Imperium Galactica: Nightfall [Open]

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Diet Galactica

Brodie Fisher kept the stoic look of a man tasked with his Lord's protection, but he couldn't help but smile on the inside as Aaron was forced to deal Senators all vying for his attention and a hint at what he planned to do if he were to be elevated to the position of Regnier. Either no one would believe him if he told them that Hiram had tossed his name out without telling him, or if they did it would reflect poorly on both. He was a Margrave on the edge of the galaxy, yes. He wasn't a rube though. He knew how ruthless Imperial politics could be.

So he kept to broad, vague statements. He would, if elected Regnier, hold the Empire together long enough to confirm a new Imperial house. That was paramount. He very much wanted to get across that he had no desire to hold the seat for an extended period of time. Or that he had any designs on the throne himself. Both assertions came easily because they were true. And he began to realize that this why Hiram had put him forward. He was...palatable...to people who worried a Regnier would look to usurp power.

He thought he would be able to speak with Hiram- and get away from the Senators- when he saw his friend move into a conversation with Archduchess Wonju. He grumbled a bit under his breath. He actually held no ill-will against House Wonju personally, but he'd spent his life in service to the Empire and the Imperial House. Which had been at odds with House Wonju.

Eventually, though, he was able to pry himself away from the politicians.
"Brodie, find Thor. We will need the Sordlanders."

"With all due respect Your Grace, should I be leaving your side?"

"I'll be with Hiram. That's safe enough for now. He has a plan. I intend to find out what, but whatever it is...I need forces I can rely on. House Rhodes' fleet cannot abandon the Margraviate of Holseta. We can rely on the Sordlanders though. I'll need them to fend off the vipers. Ask Thor if he would stand by."

Brodie nodded. The Sordlanders were indeed reliable allies to House Rhodes. And Aaron was one man who always treated them with dignity and respect. He also knew that calling in a Sordlander fleet now would be a mistake, but having them on their toes was smart.
He opened his communicator and began punching in the code 1205 to connect with Margrave Thor's security detail. The young Sordlander was somewhere here, though he hadn't seen him. He needed to find out where he was.

"Ok, there they are" Brodie replied as he received a message back. "I'll go fetch them."

"Good" Aaron nodded before stopping in his tracks as Archduchess Wonju exited the office they were heading towards.
"Archduchess" he said respectfully.

"Margrave" she responded before going on her way.

"What could Archduke Drof-Antier want with her, Your Grace?" Brodie asked.

"I intend to find out" he replied.
"Go find Thor, I'll know more about what needs to be done after speaking to Hiram" he added, as he entered the office, finally getting a chance to see his friend face to face. Brodie waited for Aaron to vanish behind a closing door before making off to find the Sordlanders.

"Hiram" he said, his voice tense.
"What in the name of all that is holy are we doing?"
 
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Pikabo

Makopa/Zhen
Iferyssia Prime, Iferyssian Kalipunan

The Metroplex is a towering monolith in the Government District. It looms over the government offices surrounding it like a glistening white sentinel. Holographic words slowly rotate around the tower, repeating the preamble of the Saligang Batas. Like any average rational person, only a few words get stuck in the heads of those who see the sign. His Illustrious Highness, Marangal na Mambabatas, Most Loyal Subjects, and compromise. Strange how people would remember reading the words democracy, liberty, and equality. When, in fact, the only relevant word in the entire document to these terms is compromise. Nominus Dakanay would know for sure. He used to lecture Pre-Imperial and Constitutional History at the Jejaka Academy of Advanced Technology.

Scholarship Plaza is abuzz as usual. Once the center of the old main IUIF campus, the grounds were redeveloped to serve the new government in 1908. Besides new additions such as monuments dedicated to political figures, varying in age and species, and playgrounds which were originally art installations at some point, the university park has become the crossroads of legislators, bureaucrats, and judicial officials. Even blue-bloods and big pockets would shamelessly strut through here just to reassure their arrangements with favored politicians. That's why protestors usually gather here to confront whoever they hate every once or twice a week.

This time, no protestors. The few who can spend actual time in the park were watching the somber black and white news on the holoscreen projected on the walls of the Kalipunan Education Office.

"The moment His Late Imperial Majesty's death was announced, subjects stopped almost all activity across our great Imperium." Dacanay's recorded self repeated what he said to the Conclave of Worlds from days ago. "The dreadful news shocked me as I took a pause and looked around. I felt the deep emotions emanating from my family and friends. A void has been left in our hearts. Remembering His Late Majesty's achievements, his devoted and dutiful character, it falls upon me to remind the Iferyssian people. As your Minister-President and as a fellow subject, his example must continue to inspire us all. His Illustrious Highness has promised to convey our condolences to the Diet Galactica, the Imperial Government, and the Imperial Family."

"Could've been better." Dakanay muttered to himself, snorting. "Too lazy for an original though. A real tear-jerker."

Dakanay listened to his recorded self only for the first part, before he lost interest from the rest of his 10-minute speech. He has been sitting quietly on the bench, with his thick tail curled next to his scaly body. He used the occupied space to put the bag of his favorite meal, Roasted Beehive, on a secure surface and taking up half of the bench. Selfish, but it would ward off passer-bys itching for a seat who might disturb him with his delicious meal. Care for personal space is truly a mark of an advanced civilization.

He reached in for the beehive inside the bag when his CODEX suddenly vibrated. Dakanay gritted his teeth and seethed annoyance. He pressed his bulbous finger on the infernal monoglass to respond.

:: Hello? Nominus Dakanay. ::

:: It's Rakkie. Hope I didn't disturb you, Nomie. ::

Dakanay looked back longingly at his meal. :: Not at all, Rakkie ... Not at all. ::

:: I got the names of the nominees for Regnier. ::

That offsets the disappointment Dakanay has for the Commissioner-General of Diplomatic Affairs. It's more important than his meal.

:: It's recess right now, isn't it? ::

:: Yes. The Count and the rest of us have just left the chamber. ::

Dakanay took out his datapad from his suit jacket's inside pocket. :: So ... the names? ::

:: I sent an email. Check your datapad. ::

He tapped away to access his emails. He opened the latest message in his inbox.

I've asked a secretary or junior assistant deputy archivist from the Hall of Records. They'll compile whatever information they can about these personalities. What's important now is we don't throw our hat in the ring without an open eye. Based on what I've seen, everyone's got their eyes closed. I put the name of the archivist in here too. They'll assist us both personally. Promised a promotion to keep their mouth shut so you don't need to talk to them. Just pray for the general obliviousness of the Count.

:: How's the Count? Is he interested in an imperial appointment? :: Dakanay asked.

:: No. He's barely done anything apart from listening to what everyone has to say in the Diet. ::

:: Heh. Listening is his strongest suit. ::

Rakkie groaned out clear resentment. :: His only suit, mind you. ::

:: I doubt he'll be appointed in an imperial office. He's a count and an...outsider. ::

There was an awkward pause. Dakanay was the first to speak. :: Does he agree on everything? ::

:: He agrees. That I could say. ::

:: Perfect. We wouldn't want to run the show, anyway. Gently- Subtly guide him in the right direction. ::

"Minister-President!"

A feminine, pompous accent called. Very familiar too. Dakanay cringed in his apprehension to see who it was. His fear was confirmed when he smelled that distinct sugary perfume only one person would dare to wear in public office.

:: I've got something malevolent coming in my direction. We'll continue this later ... if I survive this encounter. ::

He ended the call abruptly. He had to put on the widest smile he could manage comfortably and convincing enough.

A light lavender reptilian approached him. Speckled in yellow streaks and dressed in bejewelled pink robes, wearing a glittering white tiara. Taller and muscular reptilians in dark livery flanked her with a definite air of martial ability.

"Afternoon, Lady Minviluz." Dakanay greeted. He stood up and bowed promptly.

"Minister-President. May I make bold of a seat-" The Baroness blinked at the tight yet available space in the bench. "On the second thought, sitting all day in the Council requires constant stretching."

"Well..." Not taking any chances, he kept standing and took all his belongings. "That makes the two of us. Good afternoon, Lady Minviluz."

"Yes ... good afternoon."

Dakanay ignored the unimpressed tone in her voice and walked as quickly as he can, not too fast as to avoid an altercation with her ignominious fury the next time they meet. His tail wagging frantically as he waddled away.

"IUIF"
Imperial University of Iferyssia.

"Marangal na Mambabatas"
Honorable Members of the (Grand) Batasan.

"Saligang Batas"
Constitution of the Iferyssian government.
 
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Ianmey7

TNPer
Der Heim:

An attendant rushed through the halls of the beautiful Schloss Gelburg, the gold trims on the walls, the ornate pictures of what were Great Battles fought and won by the ducal family. None of that mattered as the the attendant burst into the office of the Duke. The Duke was an old man, however he was still lived up to his nickname Der Soldat König (The Solider King) the Duke paused at first looking angry then when seeing the young mans face stood and walked over. His leg was at a limp from past battles, one of his eyes had been lost too however he took the time to walk over and take the message from the mans hand. The Emperor had died, Frederich had always been weary of the Emperor seeing him as a man who could have centralized authority however there was no doubting the man deserved respect. In that Frederich called for a day of mourning, the greatest opera singer on the world would sing religious songs on the holonet all day and the army would adorn black uniforms and have a state funeral in the honor of the man.

Now what was the the plan, who would serve to be Regnier until the Archdukes could elect an Emperor. He had a say in who would be Regnier, his mind went to his title Duke he hated that title his family had served as the protectors of the north for millennia and were "promoted" to Duke. He preferred the local title that his subjects and civilians called him Gross Margraf or Great Margrave. This reflected the warrior history of his family, wether it be killing Xenos or other humans this is what the Stahlmargraf house has been doing since given the territory. No matter, once at the Diet this is where his plans would move forward there he would see what candidate could be most reasoned with. Until then he would prepare his son Wilhelm for the journey.

The boy needs to be ready for stuff like this. The idiot needs to learn more before I die, lord knows I'm close.

"Wilhelm come to my office at once!" the order rang out through the palace, Wilhelm who was originally supposed to be inspecting the troops was chatting up some maids while drinking a beer. His Field Marshall's uniform unbuttoned at the collar where his medal for bravery was supposed to be. His cigarette needed to be put out and he moved quickly to get to his fathers office. When arriving his Father was sitting in his chair with two glasses of whiskey poured and gesturing for the man to sit.

"If you didn't pass the academy and win me battles I would have disinherited you by now. But tell me, how is the Haus Guarde regiment?"

"Father I.."

"It does not matter, I needed to tell you the the Emperor is dead. We are going to the diet together, you served as a legionary in the Imperial military, you are my top Admiral now I want you to come and work as my heir. I haven't brought you with me to these things ever, now I want you with me."

Wilhelm sat for a second, he almost spit out his whiskey. Did his father actually just admit to wanting him around. This was a shocking turn of events and Wilhelm was elated, he drank his whiskey and stood up.

"I must go tell Anna the news, if you'll excuse me I will go and prepare the Yacht for our departure."

Wilhelm left the room and just stood there for a minute, he couldn't believe that his father was actually asking him to come with. He went to his castle, Schloss Ritterfall where he began to speak with his wife in their room. They would prepare for the trip to Taer Atlos.
 

Kyle

Keep pounding.
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ᛋᛚᚥᛚᚨᚦᛆ ᛆᛚᛚᛏᛆᚠᛁᚿᚿ ᚵᛘᚲᛆᛗᛆᚻ ᛟᚵ ᛋᚡᛘᚲᛁᚵ ᚨᛋᚲ ᛟᚵ ᛅᛋᛁᛝᚢᚱ.
Sløláþa alltafinn gýkamahl og svýkig ásk og äsingur.
Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.

People’s Palace
Ruslsorp, the Sordlands


Thor 12051509 sighed as he electronically reviewed documents and signed orders. People thought that being Margrave and a noble was a fun job. In reality he spends at least half an hour everyday reading through reports and granting permissions. Today he sat in front of the big screen with his younger brother Finn 12051509, teaching him how to do margrave things. Finn was seventeen; Thor was twenty. Thor needed to rely on his younger brothers to help him do things. Their fourteen-year-old twin younger brothers Snaebjörn and Styrbjörn were too young for these stuff.

A report from Ketill 12053326 stated that settlers had arrived at planet ᛩᚨ-4. Thor tapped a button on his desk. A holographic three-dimensional map of the Sordlands appeared before him. He typed the name of the planet. Bekkur Sector, Oss System, Planet 4. Right. It was, hopefully, the future 53rd sector of the Sordlands. They had been colonising the Bekkur Sector for the past few years, along with Sectors Hnapp and Øy. Last year, they had discovered ᛩᚨ-4 to be a habitable planet… Thor looked at the info summary for the Bekkur Sector. They had four colonised planets and moons there: ᛩᚢ-5.4, ᛩᚦ-3, ᛩᚺ-2, and ᛩᚷ-6.9. ᛩᚨ-4 was the fifth planet they were colonising.

“So after, you read it, and it doesn’t need any action on your part, you can simply do this.” Thor clicked “Mark as Read” on the document reader.

“What does “Send a Message” do?” Finn asked, pointing at the screen.
“Well, it… sends a message,” Thor said. “I usually click that too,” the Margrave of the Sordlands added, “It sends a semi-automated message to the sender of the report. It’s a congratulatory or valedictory message, one of our artificial intelligence speechwriters write it and a staff goes over it before I sign it.”
“Uh-huh.”
“It also brings up the morale of our explorers and colonists.”

The next message came from Björn 12052220 from Maðr Sector. The inhabitants of ᛗᚢ had elected their new kerðáherr, or governor of the Úr System in the Maðr Sector. The short info screen showed that ᛗᚢ had two inhabited planets and one inhabited moon. ᛗᚢ‘s new kerðáherr would be Sívar 73809254. Thor simply clicked “Mark as Read” and “Send a Message.”

“You can’t do anything about that?” Finn inquired. “Can you reject it?”
“No,” Thor replied. “We don’t dare go against the will of the people.”
“So we have no control over these stuff?” Finn was puzzled. “What’s the point of being a margrave if we have no control over these stuff?”
“Finn, we can’t micromanage everything,” Thor told his younger brother. “Our people are fiercely proud and independent. We let them make the decisions they should be taking for themselves.”

Finn nodded as the next message flashed on the screen. Þyrnir 12059467, þátturáherr of Sector PerÞ, was asking permission to grant the inhabitants of ᛈᚺ and ᛈᚱ to raise their own mercenary band. This one had a decision point: “Accept” and “Reject”.

Thor clicked “Accept” without hesitation. “Mercenaries are the lifeblood of our systems,” Thor told his younger brother. “We help defend the Imperium’s borders, and we raise money out of other lords’ follies.”
“But at the expense of our people…?” Finn muttered.
“They are soldiers,” Thor answered, trying to assuage the qualms of his brother. “They know what they are getting into. Fighting – whether for survival, for the defence of the Imperium, for our homelands – had been our destiny from the very start. We cannot escape that fate.”

The screen blinked red, indicating that there was an urgent message from… Taer Atlos. The Imperial Capital.

Thor opened the message it was addressed to the Margrave of the Sordlands. It still had no name. Thor’s ascension to the margraviate was probably still unknown to the capital.

Thor’s eyes widened as he read the message. The Emperor had died. The Diet was being summoned. He had to go.

“Finn, take care of our lands for me while I am away.”

* * *​

Taer Atlos

Thor Rös, as he was known outside the Sordlands, sat in one corner of the room, almost ignored and unrecognised by everyone. He was from the Trashlands after all.

Other delegations were large and grandiose, but the simply-dressed Thor was accompanied only by Hákon 91512032, Marshal of the Sordlands. Though Hákon was technically a paternal cousin of Thor, the older Marshal had an avuncular relationship with the younger Margrave of the Sordlands. The two were silent as they observed the nobles of the Imperium play with politics. Thor and the Sordlands had no such interest in those things.

He wasn’t supposed to be here. Heck, Thor wasn’t even supposed to be the Margrave of the Sordlands. He was the fourth child of Sigur 12052032, the previous margrave of the Sordlands. His elder siblings all passed away at a young age. He could still remember them being nice and kind to him. He wished they didn't all die...

Sigur Rös had three children with his first marriage with Hanna 44446039, a daughter of Kolbjörn 44444392, the famous leader of the Þýran Sacred Band (Þýransk Helgátváhópur). The Þýransk Helgátváhópur come from the planet of þýran, home of the brave and the short-lived. Their men usually die before the age of 35. Knowing that they meet certain death anyway, the men of Þýransk Helgátváhópur fight hard until the end, making them one of the Sordlands’ best mercenary bands.

Before dying at the age of 31, Hanna bore Sigur three children - Baldr, Hallkell, and Gafn. The widowed Sigur remarried to Lofn 00771509, who was the mother of Thor, Finn, Snaebjörn, and Styrbjörn. Thor saw his elder half-siblings die one after the other: Hallkell when he was 23, Baldr when he was 25, Gafn when she was 19. It broke their father so much that Thor had to take up margrave duties early on at the age of fourteen. Sigur died four years later.

While he was still alive, Sigur had scientists investigate why his family died so early. It came back to the history of Þýran. Most of the patrilineal lineages in the Þýran were descended from the Uppmansk (UM) experiment. Series 444 of the UM experiment had a molecular “kill switch” gene within the Y chromosome that kills its bearers before the age of 35 – explaining why the Þýran men have short lifespans.

Hanna 44446039 was not supposed to carry the Y chromosome and thus no “kill switch”. But in a freak one-in-a-million genetic accident, the “kill switch” gene on the Y chromosome crossed over to the X chromosome in the gamete that would eventually form Hanna. This caused her to die early. It meant that one of her X chromosomes carried the deadly gene, which she passed to all her children… killing them all too.

This left Thor as the eldest remaining child of Sigur. He had a different mother, and so was safe. But that meant the entire burden of governing and being the margrave passed on to him. And this was one such burden.

Thor yawned in boredom at the seemingly never-ending spectacle of backstabbing, hypocrisy, and duplicity. Thor perked up when Aaron Rhodes, a distant relative and the margrave of their neighbouring system, was nominated as Regnier. Aaron Rhodes and Thor may not had been well-acquainted with each other, but Thor saw how his father respected Aaron Rhodes. The feeling was mutual; Aaron Rhodes was one of the few nobles who visited the funeral of his father.

Thor would support Aaron Rhodes as Regnier, but he and the Sordlands don’t even have a vote. Only the hissing snakes and weeping crocodiles at the centre had a voice.

* * *​

In Orbit around Taer Atlos

Thor and Hákon retired to their spacecraft orbiting around Taer Atlos. They were not going to stay any minute longer in that pit of vipers, that hotbed of treachery. Thor called back home and asked for Finn. His poor younger brother was swamped with work. Thor gave Finn some encouragement. “Finn, if you need help, just call me.”

Hákon’s phone lit up. Someone was calling. Brodie Fisher, the security man from the House Rhodes. “Hello, Hákon of the Sordlands here...” Hákon’s brows furrowed as he heard what Fisher had to say. “Margrave Aaron Rhodes wants to meet with Thor?”
 
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Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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After Archduchess Wonju left, Hiram barely had time to send a message off back home before the door to his office was opened abruptly.

“Hiram,” Aaron Rhodes said, a frustrated look on his face. “What in the name of all that is holy are we doing?"

Hiram took a deep breath and put on his most disarming smile. “I’m sorry that I didn’t consult you first,” he said apologetically. “But things have been moving quite fast. And I knew you’d say no.”

“You’re damn right I would have,” he burst out.

Hiram remembered his manners and held out a hand for the Margrave to sit. “I swear my intentions aren’t to cast you into the viper's pit. I just need someone I can trust to sit as Regnier.” He steepled his hands and leaned forward on his desk. “I have no intention of claiming the Celestial Throne, but I still have interests in who sits upon it. So once a Regnier is chosen, I intend to make that public.”

He stood up and started pacing the room. “I visited my cousin’s body today, and I learned from his consort that Alecto Rian saw him just before he died. He ordered the consort to inform him first, an hour before everyone else, of the Emperor’s passing. And then, he disappears along with the entire Imperial Starfleet.”

He looked towards Aaron. “So, in order to protect this transition of power, I must step aside from the Throne, so that I can offer my forces to keep the peace here on Taer Atlos. And I know no better of a man to help me in that cause than you.”


Hiram took a seat in the smaller council chambers where they would make a decision for Regnier. He sat calmly taking in the others gathered. Never had they all gathered like this, not those living now. And, gods willing, it would not occur again for many more generations. The nine Archdukes and a handful of Dukes with special privileges granted by previous emperors. They would decide the Regnier.

He wondered what they’d been up to in the few hours since nominations to now. Scheming for their own betterment no doubt.

The candidates were named again. No one spoke, not wanting to start the inevitable arguments and discussions. Hiram allowed this to go on for only a few moments before clearing his throat.

“Since I made the first nomination, I suppose I’ll be the first to speak.”

He stood so that all could see him better. “Aaron Rhodes is the best candidate for the position of Regnier. He’s a former legionnaire, a hero of the church, and a man of honor. But those pale in comparison to his most important qualification. He has no ambition for the throne.

“He will hold the office of Regnier, he will do his job without personal bias, and when his service is finished he will return to his home world and serve loyally as defender of the imperial borders regardless of who the next emperor is.”

He finished and sat back down, waiting to see who would speak next.
 

Paxiosolange

Abrakadabra.
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THE DIET GALACTICA AT TAER ALTOS

Herault didn't seem to understand the majesty of all of this. Although he was enjoying his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a Duke assembled among the great houses of the galaxy, it seemed that Shiram's throne and his Lord's lips were the only things that remained in his mind. Although the reflections of those very old days at the Emperor's side had not totally eluded him. Chamberlain Rollant did his best out of his massive spite for the Vidame to keep him precise, yet the longer he spent on Taer Altos, the more distraught he grew. After hearing Archduke Hiram's speech, Herault found the incessant and comical need to follow him in discourse.

"Oh Archduke, you mustn't be so modest with your praises. Anything more and I will start to become suspicious of you two." Herault snickered.
"Taisez. You are acting like a fool!" Rollant muttered.
"Quiet, Rollant... House Hyntagenet is welcoming of these things of course—and regardless, I too am in support of the pretty young Margrave. I believe he will take the interim place of our dead, chaste Emperor quite well."
 

Predice

TNPer
The Diet Galactica, Taer Altos, Imperial Capital

After having again largely observed the proceedings quietly, Challion took a sip of water, and rose to speak:

"Your Highnesses, if I may, I believe that Aaron Rhodes, a member of a House clearly loyal to the Church and the Gods, and someone who has no ambitions for the throne is a clear choice. He embodies all of the values this Empire was built on: piety, gallantry, honour, loyalty, and dilligence. I fervently trust, that Aaron Rhodes is the best choice in this case."

With his short speech over, he sat down again, took a sip of water, and opened the holy texts and began to pray for a quick vote. After finishing his prayer, he prepared to start taking notes again.
 
Taer Atlos-Diet Galactica
-Rhodes hmm...- Khordus says under his breath to no-one in particular, remaining seated as he sligthly leans back, eyeing out the room once more as he fine tuned his plan, making a mental note to keep on the good side of whom he thougtht, had the better chances to become reigner

so far, he had plans on meeting with the other non human counts, most likely he would negotiate with Lithius first, for now, he hoped nothing would happen that would throw things off for him, or anyone else, for that matter

and in a way, he hoped Valk and the rest of his security detail would stay out of trouble, if possible
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Hiram's story of Alecto Rian shocked him. He had, of course, noticed the Imperial Starfleet's absence from the capital upon arriving. It had concerned him then, and he'd even remarked to himself that the Grand Admiral would have to explain himself. He had never considered what he was being told- that the Admiral had abandoned the capital after threatening the Emperor's household.

Aaron had known Alecto Rian in a very broad sense. He'd met him just a few times while he was Legionnaire, and never for very long. Still, he'd respected him as a military officer. And he had a sterling reputation. "Had" being the key word. The shock Aaron felt over this, and his own disgust over the news that Rian would not only abandon the capital but that he apparently did it with some sort of personal motive overcame his apprehension over his nomination.

"The Emperor dies, the Grand Admiral demands to know before anyone else, and vanishes along with the Imperial Starfleet. I was anxious when I saw the fleet missing from orbit upon arriving. Now I worry. Rian could force us all at gunpoint to accept any and all demands he has. We'd be helpless...."

He nodded.
"I'll accept your nomination, Hiram" he said gravely. "And hopefully we can get through this."

Aaron thought for a moment. He had intended to tell Thor to keep the Sordlanders on alert. He worried how it would look if a candidate for the office of Regnier called in a fleet loyal to him- and comprised of a people most considered outsiders- to the capital while it was defenceless. Now though- knowing what he knew about Rian's departure- he thought that no fleet to keep the peace could be too small. What Hiram thought of the Sordlanders- and House 1205- was something of a mystery to him. The subject was avoided. Now, however, was not the time to worry about what may or may not offend high society.
"Your fleets would be a good deterrent to anyone looking to strike at us during this vulnerable time, but they alone might not be able to challenge the Imperial fleet if Rian chooses to assert himself" Aaron said as he adjusted himself in the chair.

"Thor Rös of the Sordlanders is here" he added, using the "proper" name of the house as the Sordlanders' own propensity for numerical identification was not generally accepted, "and I know I can trust him and his people. My fleet cannot leave the Margraviate of Holseta defenceless. And Thor's cannot leave Sordlands defenceless, but they have notable mercenary fleets that I know will answer my call and help us cobble a combined fleet powerful enough to resist almost anything. Even Rian, potentially."

It was a gamble. He had considered keeping his plans to call on Thor and the Sordlanders private, but between the fact that he trusted Hiram and the dire need for ships and soldiers now that he knew why Rian had departed, well he was taking no chances.

"I trust you wouldn't have tossed my name out there without a plan, so I need to know if. If I am to be Regnier then who are you considering backing for the Celestial Throne?"
 

Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Hiram’s Office, before Voting Session

Hiram sighed in relief when his friend accepted the nomination. That would make things easier going forward. But Aaron’s next words about bringing in the Sordlanders gave him pause. He had no ill will towards them, but he knew they wouldn’t be welcome by all the other houses.

He leaned back, deep in thought. “This is a delicate situation, and we can’t be seen to be making aggressive moves. I worry the houses will see this as an aggressive move. But we need all the ships we can to protect the capital. If you feel we need them, once you’re Regnier, then it will be your prerogative to bring them in.

He wondered how much of his plan he should let Aaron in on. He did not distrust the man in any way, but how far would the Margrave trust him? He decided he would give Aaron some information, but keep some of it close to his chest. After all, the more the man knew, the more likely he was to be devoured by the politics of the Core.

“I intend to support the House of Wonju,” he stated as flatly as he could. “They’ll have a difficult, and uphill battle for the Celestial Throne, being outcasts and distrusted. I doubt they’ll be successful against the ruthlessness of some of the other Houses that will be vying for the throne, but my choices are limited. Should I support a greedy, corrupt, or bloodthirsty house? Should I throw my name into the running and enter the deadly game, putting my family at risk? Or support a house that my family has supported in the past and hope we can all ride out the coming storm?”

Hiram rubbed the stubble on his chin. “What House would you support?”
 

Ianmey7

TNPer
Taer Atlos-

Frederich sat at the table to make a vote. He saw where his peers were voting, they seemed to be voting for this Aaron Rhodes. Frederich looked at the man, he did not know him. He heard the others speak of his piety, they spoke of his steady hand. This seemed strange to the very old man, fifty was many years behind him, he admired the youthful strength but there was something that Frederich couldn't come to terms with in regards to the man.

"Wilhelm, du warst in den Heer. Kennen er?" (1)

"Nein Vater, ich kenne er nicht." (2)

Frederich stood up, "As a fellow man of the frontier, I will also support this man. I hope that Aaron Rhodes can bring a new age to our empire, I only ask that he remembers his roots on the frontier and allows us to continue with our traditions."

Frederich sat, he hated the politics of the Empire, he and his dynasty had been defending their frontier for generations. Centralized control meant that his corner of the galaxy wasn't his families, it was the fool who was on the throne.

Wilhelm however saw what was happening and looked on ambitiously, his campaigns for his father had taught him much. Patience was king in these moments.

(1) Wilhelm, you were in the military, do you know this man?
(2) No father I don't know him.
 

Yalkan

Minister of You
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Hvis 98

The Baron’s office was quite lavish, Iyaad noted to himself. He recognized some of the furnishings to be from the early 1950s. No longer mass produced. They must have been inherited or the man must have spent a fortune on simple seating. Iyaad was staring at the small statuette of Ishta, the eternal, on the Baron’s desk when the man finally entered the room.

“Sorry for keeping you. This is rather unorthodox for such a-” the Baron was interrupted by a guard scanning him head to toe. The device in his hand beeped signalling an all clear. Iyaad took this opportunity to take the lead.

“You know who I am?” Iyaad asked. He gestured for the Baron to sit at his own desk as he took his own seat.

“Yes, of course! House Bilal has always been a friend to the Jetra family,” the Baron replied.

“Close, but no direct ties,” Iyaad corrected. It was true that this system was important to house Bilal in the past. A key source of water, but it had been picked clean years ago. Iyaad had other plans for the backwater.

“If I am correct, you’ve been experiencing a sort of exodus as of late. People leaving on any available ship. For the core or the rim.,” Iyad commented.

“Well, I wouldn’t so much call it an exodus. More like birthing pains as the people find new industry,” the Baron responded, trying his best to conceal his frustration.

Iyaad snorted at the claim. “Yes yes, your new shipyards. How many have you built?”

“I dont have the exact numbers here, but I-”

Iyaad raised his hand to silence the man. “You have one of the most metal rich systems in the entire Imperium. Yet you’ve made only some handful of barges.”

The Baron’s patience was growing short, Iyaad could tell. Better to make this quick. “We are willing to make you a true Sol-Baron. Sponsor your industrial growth. Give you the manpower to do so, but it will be under certain circumstances.”

“Which are?” the Baron asked through gritted teeth. The man was gripping his chair as if it was holding him down from floating away from sheer anger.

“You will marry one of my many nieces,” Iyaad answered as he stood. “You will then become a part of my family. A boon for us all. Wouldn’t you agree?”

“I… I already have a family,” the Baron replied. Iyaad noted the anger in his face had begun to fade into confusion and fear.

“I suggest you remedy that situation before I do Baron Ervin. I am not a patient man.” With that Iyaad turned to leave, guards following quickly behind.


The Diet Galactica
Before the vote


“How bothersome all this is,” Adham muttered as walked arm in arm with his sister. When he received no response, Adham glanced to his sister. She was busy staring at all the senators and lesser nobles swarming the nominees. She looked like a child left out of game, yearning to be included. His grip tightened. “Seems to me you’re more interested in strangers than your own blood,” he commented.

“This isn’t a game brother, you should be over there yourself,” she replied without looking towards him.

“Oh but it is game Nylah. They’re all scrambling for something they want, they don’t realize it’ll cost them more than they have. They’re gambling Nylah,” Adham whispered into her ear. “You think I’d risk all that I have? For what? A few more barren rocks?”

“Ever the materialist,” Nylah sighed, stopping in her tracks. “I will not be a witness to your idiocy.” With that said Nylah wrestled her arm free and stormed off. Adham smiled as he watched his sister’s angered stride. A guard jogged to keep up with the woman. If only she knew what their uncle was up to Adham mused.
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Hiram’s Office, before Voting Session

Aaron smiled slightly. He didn't wish for this delicate situation to be further complicated by an argument over the core's dislike of some of his closest allies- and family.
"Believe me Hiram, I know. I know it's not an ideal situation. I don't intend to provoke the capital, or the rest of the Archdukes. I understand how bringing them in can look- in any number of ways. I'll just ask that you trust that I will know how to manage it effectively."
He did. He'd sat there, in his box, listening to noble after noble follow Hiram's lead and nominate him. Would they have done so had Hiram not done it? Likely not, but that was immaterial. The voices were heard, and the motives weren't important. It meant that a number of electors could very well be swayed. And he'd thought, before the Diet's session was even over, what he'd do if elected Regnier. He would demand Grand Admiral Rian return the fleet to Taer Atlos. His reasoning- during the Diet's session- was a matter of practicality. If he was tasked with guiding the Empire then he would demand the fleet return to perform their duty.

Now though, knowing what he knew, his reason shifted. If Rian absconded with the fleet as part of a power play- and seemed like he could have- then such an order from Regnier would be ignored. And it would potentially do two things. It just might leak to the rank and file and cause some to question loyalty to Rian, if the rightfully elected Reginer issued an order that was being ignored. It would also give him a pretext to bring in Sordlander fleets. If the Imperial Fleet was ignoring a call to return from the acting head of the Imperial state then even the Archdukes couldn't scoff at him bringing in loyal ships to defend the capital. However much they disliked their operators.
Aaron was a military man after all, and he thought about his options in those terms; how could he accomplish what he needed to accomplish?

He perked up at Hiram's support for House Wonju. So that was what he'd been discussing with the Archduchess. It was a choice that struck him as odd...but then again he was speaking of bringing in outsiders to secure the capital. Was House Wonju truly outrageous in that context?

"When I heard Emperor Shiram had passed without an heir..." he began, "I thought I would have to provide you with some support in some way. To protect you from vultures who'd see you as a threat due to your familial connection. I won't lie Hiram...I spent some of the journey here thinking of what it would take to get you on the Celestial Throne. If I am being perfectly honest, I would prefer it to be you. You have a blood claim, you have a son who can succeed you, and you're a good man."
He leaned back in his chair as he thought more about Hiram's choice.

"I may be off in the corner of civilization" he chuckled, "but I understand Core politics well enough, so I understand. Why it can't be you. I wouldn't have thought of House Wonju but..."
His mind raced through potential candidates if Hiram insisted on taking himself out of the running. He ran through all of the Archdukes and Archduchesses. Moremi Oragbade and Arnu Khor were the only two aside from Hiram Drof-Antier he thought positively of. It would have to be an Archduke or Archduchess in his estimation, as they were the only ones with the fleets big enough to assert themselves. And return to a stable status quo.
Wonju was a house he didn't dislike, but was not fond of either. His apathy was born from his service under Emperor Shiram. And yet...

"I have some thoughts, Hiram. House Wonju is not my first choice, but you know this arena better than I do. If this is who you plan on supporting then they'll have my support as well."
 
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Loz

TNPer
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The Diet Galactica

Arnu walked through the halls of the Diet after the recess was called. He left Kardin to do whatever it was Kardin did when he was alone. For the moment his thoughts were clear of the vote at hand. Margrave Rhodes would win no doubt, and that was fine. For now he was content to thinking of home, and the inevitability of change. Not that he was one for philosophizing, but Arnu liked change, even if it was bad, and this had the potential to get very bad. Or perhaps it would be good, either way House Khor would weather the storm as it had since the days of Tryan. The Archduke put his hands in his pockets and began to whistle his way through the corridor. Ahead of him he spied a few men leaving an office in what stuck him as a rather scandalous way, and to his luck it happened to be the Margrave Rhodes and entourage heading his way. He let Rhodes get close before he put his arm across the Margrave's path, and rested his hand on his shoulder. "Congratulations Margrave Rhodes, if it can be said. I think everyone in the Empire can say that you'll do the job justice, but might I offer some words of wisdom from the Oasis, now that you're caught in the machinations of the Archdukes?" Aaron nodded, holding his composure well. Arnu pulled him in close and whispered, "There ain't no wronger side of the tracks, than under them." Arnu released his grip and gave Aaron a stern pat on the shoulder. The Archduke let out a sigh, returned his hands to his pockets, and whistled his way further down the hall.

Aaron watched Archduke Khor walk away cheerfully, an eyebrow raised as he contemplated what in the name of Tryan had just happened.
 

North Timistania

RolePlay Moderator
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The Imperial Diet

The Nominations stream in from all corners of the Imperium and soon my datapad is awash with one name repeated in unending sequences. I tap a finger on the arm of my chair irritably, the situation is rapidly evolving into something I doubt anyone could have predicted.


“Rhodes, Rhodes, Rhodes....it seems the Margraves name is flowing from every set of lips in the Diet,” I say in frustration as we sit in the darkened antechamber

“You do not sound overjoyed with that news” Oba replies with a knowing grin

That’s putting things mildly, the politics of Taer Altos are cold and prone to very quickly becoming lethal, I fear that the Margrave is to be a sacrificial lamb offered up to the altar of noble ambition.

“I bear the lord of Holseta no ill will, but Taer Altos is a cold and unforgiving place, I had hoped to spare a good man such a sentence in favour of a cold and unforgiving woman” I reply in a blunt tone

“You underestimate him Moremi, Margrave Rhodes is no lamb, he is a warrior and far savvier then you imagine,” Oba says protesting

My consort typically follows my lead on political decisions, so it is amusing to see him buck the trend. Years as a periphery legionary have left Oba fiercely loyal to the Margrave, perhaps almost as much as he is to me. I will need his help if I am to have success in the coming intrigues.

“For his sake and the Imperium's let us hope you are right” I reply grimly

“What are your orders then?” he asks his tone cautious

“We shall continue to support Mira of House Vane officially” I reply matter-factly

“And when Margrave Rhodes is inevitably elevated to Regnier?” he says with a smirk

“Then you will go to him and offer him our full support, he will respect our words better if they are delivered by another warrior,” I say calmly noting the surprise on his face as the words sink in

I wonder privately if this was Hiram’s intention all along, placing a warrior lord in the path of all the would-be claimants and their boundless ambition. It would seem the Drof-Antier gambit has paid dividends, the question is should a soldier be trusted to rule an empire? If the rumours of absconding fleets and scheming admirals are true, we may have our answer sooner rather than later.
 
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Loz

TNPer
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The Diet Galactica

Arnu was still smiling as he returned to his box. His chance sighting of Rhodes leaving Archduke Hiram's office had left him in a good mood. He had said his piece to Rhodes, but now he would have to corner Hiram after the vote in order to discover whatever drama he was keeping from the rest of the Archdukes. Kardin caught his smile and gave him a nudge.

"Something have you in good spirits?" The Guard Captain asked.

"Maybe." Arnu replied. "We're all missing something here it seems."

"What do you mean?" Kardin questioned.

"No idea." Arnu said thoughtfully.

"I swear to all the gods you're the most unhelpful person I've met." Kardin said as leaned back in his chair and shook his head.

Arnu sat quietly for a moment before laughter welled up in them both. As they stifled their laughs the first real votes began to come in. Kardin calmed himself and leaned over to his Lord. "Showtime." He said quietly.

Arnu nodded and stood. He walked forward and leaned on his railing, catching the eye of the Chancellor. The old man quieted the floor, "What is the vote of Khor?" He asked.

Arnu stood up straight, hands firmly on the railing. "I, Archduke Arnu of House Khor, support Margrave Aaron Rhodes to be Regnier of the Imperium." He spoke with force, and what observers might have even called "clarity" had he not continued. The Archduke leaned back on the railing, and caught Rhodes' eyes. "I have no doubt he'll keep us on the right side of the tracks."
 

Wardency

Registered
The Diet Galactica, Taer Atlos, Imperial Demesne.
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After casting his nominations for House Rhodes, a few laughter could be heard echoing the Chamber. The atmosphere after casting the nomination was haunting. The Grand Duke felt embarrassed on his way back to his seating box. Wondering to himself if he had made the wrong choice.

"Don't overthink the situation my Duke, this is only a nomination, the real event ahead is the Voting Session. I'm sure that you have plenty of time to make your final decision. Until then, we'll be sitting here to wait." Gerritsen slowly leans toward Laakonen's ear and whispered.

Still filling with guilt inside his gut, the Duke could only reply to his Senator's advice by a simple nod. The nominations from other Houses continues, some Houses the Duke has never heard of before. It was unbelievable how the Duke's father and his father distant the Duchy from the Imperium. With a vow already popped up in his mind, he must open his Duchy's borders as soon as he gets back to Astatine, and welcome aliens of all kinds to stay.


Voting Session
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The moment of truth has come. As it turns out, the Duke didn't make the wrong choice, House Rhodes had at least 10 nominations from other Houses. It was such a relieving moment for the Duke. From across the Chamber, Archduke Arnu from house Khor stood up and walk down to the center platform.

The Supreme Chancellor quieted the floor, making the Duke jump out of his thoughts. "What is the vote of Khor?" The Chancellor asked.

Archduke Arnu stood up straight, hands firmly on the railing. "I, Archduke Arnu of House Khor, support Margrave Aaron Rhodes to be Regnier of the Imperium." He spoke with force, and what observers might have even called "clarity" had he not continued.


"So, the first vote for House Rhodes, doesn't surprise me much, have you made up your mind on who to vote yet, my Duke?" Gerritsen shakes her elbow at Laakonen, whispering to him.

"I am now certain that I will be voting for Aaron Rhodes to the Regnier". Laakonen replies to Gerritsen while nodding slowly.

The Duke stood up sturdily, now determined that his fellow Southerner shall be the Imperium's Regent. "I, Duke Laakonen Lissange of House Fensalir, vote Aaron Rhodes to be Regnier of the Imperium."

Before casting his vote, he remembers Gerritsen's face, she bit her lips in disgust and lifted her palm to her forehead. As he walks back to his seating box, he could see that his Senator wasn't very delighted to be informed of his choice. It was clear that she had a different plan for him in mind.
 
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Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Drof-Antier Manor House,
Padaas Province,
Taer Atlos


Faizal powered down the ship, running through the post flight check. Once everything was set and the engines were off he stood up, taking his wife’s hand. They exited the ship, his guards following until they were safely inside the shielded house.

They were met by his aunt, the Governess of this manor, Serenna Antier. Her face was stern, which was a permanent fixture on the woman, but he noticed quite a few more worry lines around her eyes.

“Is your father safe?” she asked after they’d made a few quick pleasantries.

“As alright as anyone on this planet is right now,” Faizal answered.

“Have you heard from our daughter?” Izarri, ever the worried mother asked.

Serenna gave her one of her few smiles. “I spoke with her an hour ago. She’s upset that she was moved offworld from Coarin, but she’s alright. Jazil and Lysbel have her busy with her studies.”

“I’d feel safer if I could hold her.”

Faizal put a comforting arm around his wife. “This madness will sort itself out soon enough.” She nodded lovingly and Serena had one of her house staff take the Comtess off to get a calming cup of tea.

When she was well out of earshot Faizal asked his aunt for a secure line to the House Fleet. The communications were located underneath the manor in the house’s bomb shelter. He was lead down there and then left alone, two guards outside the door.

He took a seat in front of the communications instruments and keyed in the code for direct contact. A surly looking older woman in a blue uniform answered, snapping to attention once she saw him.

“Your highness,” she greeted him.

“Status report, Cruzier.”

Cruzier Imersa Natal nodded, picking up a datapad. “The fleet is in standby position. The first column is at full readiness and can jump to Taer Atlos immediately if necessary. Reserve forces, including planetary guard, are being activated. We should be at full strength within three days.”

“Can we cut that down to two?”

She gave him a weary look, one that said he didn’t know the kind of logistics needed for such a reduction in the time-frame. But she had served the house for fifty years and knew not to ever say no. “I will see to it that we are ready in two days, as you command.”

It was what he expected from her. He knew they wouldn’t be in full readiness by two days, he just wanted everyone to know, the Archduke was worried about violence. “Have you seen any sign of the Imperial Starfleet?” he asked.

She put her datapad down quickly, an audible thump coming through the communicator. “One of the local garrison’s frigates was having engine troubles and we were able to detain them. Should I begin questioning the crew?”

“No. Count Taschal will be returning soon. He will lead the investigation.”

She nodded, but was clearly annoyed that she would have no authority over the investigation. Faizal reaches over to turn off the communicator, but then hesitated.

“One last thing, Cruzier,” he said. “If you do not hear from me or my father within the next two days, you are ordered to bring the fleet to Taer Atlos immediately.Do you understand?”

His words had visibly shocked her, but she was a professional and did not ask any questions, merely answered in the affirmative. Faizal then turned off the communicator, the screen going blank.
 
Diet Galactia, Taer Atlos

Fredrick looked out into the space that made up the smaller diet hall, he watched as the dozens of different Dukes and Archdukes declared their votes for Regnier. The young upstart Aaron Rhodes, the man who Fredrick had originally backed seemed to be the most popular of the candidates. Not wanting to go against his first opinion and gain the ire of this possible Regnier he approached the voting space and declared his vote saying.

"House Valin of the Violet Fields votes for Aaron Rhodes of House Rhodes for the position of Regnier."

The chamber filled with a mix of boos and cheers. The Archduke turning on his heels walked out of the room and into the hallway outside hoping to find and speak with the young man he had just voted for and give him some advice. As he walked down the hallway he passed several other boxes and offices and he eventually came to Archduke Hiram's office and just outside of the office he saw Aaron and began making his way to him.
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Iclinga, in orbit above Taer Atlos

Hiram had left to deliberate and vote on Regnier with the other electors. Aaron, meanwhile, paced in his study aboard the Iclinga.

Nothing was certain in Imperial politics, but he nervously contended with the very real possibility that he would be Regnier. It had been more than just Hiram who had tossed his name out- though he was sure the others were mostly following his lead- and that could very well sway enough electors. He dreaded it, even with a sense of duty to his friend. All he could do was move pieces on the very small corner of the board had access to and hope for the best.

He sat in one of the chairs of his study, undoing the collar of his uniform a bit. He’d just started to feel relaxed when the intercom beeped.

“Commander Fisher is approaching in a shuttle belonging to House 1205. He is being accompanied by Margrave Thor and Marshal Hákon,” Captain Fox announced.

“Have them brought to my study,” Aaron remarked.

“Yes Your Grace,” the Captain replied.

Aaron had last seen Thor at his father’s funeral. He’d offered the lad his help in whatever way he may need. Thor just had to ask. That day never came, as the Sordlands remained quiet and stable following Sigur’s death. And now here he was, ready to ask him for help. The universe could be funny like that…

Thor 12051509 and Hákon 91512032 entered Aaron’s study soon after docking. Thor had changed a lot since the last time they met. When Aaron attended Sigur Rös’ funeral four years ago, Thor was sixteen and was still a boy at the cusp of puberty. Now he was twenty and was now a tall, lanky, blond-haired young man. His face was deeply creased with stress from all the governing, making him look years older than his age. His pensive blue eyes were an open window to his thoughts and emotions.

“Good day, Margrave Aaron,” Thor bowed slightly, offering his hand for a shake.

Aaron stood up from his chair and greeted his visitors. “Good day, Margrave Thor, Marshal Hákon… have a seat.”

“Congratulations on your nomination,” Thor said pleasantly. “I sincerely hope you’d win.”

Aaron smiled. “Thank you…” he wondered if he should admit that he didn’t actually plan on being nominated. He’d kept that secret from everyone he’d spoken to. It would reflect poorly on both himself and Hiram. Maybe he still saw Thor as that sixteen year old boy, saddened by the loss of his father but…
“...it wasn’t what I came here for” he said as he shook his head, "but I’ve served the Empire before and if they ask I will serve again.” He sighed a bit as he leaned back in his own chair.

“I have a request to make of you and the Marshal,” he said motioning to Hákon. He studied Thor’s eyes for a moment. The lad was young, but he’d been taxed by the stress of governing. He noticed that almost immediately. He had, in the years since Sigur’s funeral, assumed that the quiet in the Sordlands had meant an easy time of things. Maybe they were...but it was clear that Thor had been introduced to the rigors of government.

“One I don’t make lightly. You two might have noticed that the Imperial Starfleet is not defending the Celestial Throne. I was worried when I saw this upon arriving, but I have reason to believe that Grand Admiral Rian has absconded with the fleet and is acting against the Empire. My friend Hiram of Drof-Antier had pledged his fleet to keep the peace in the capital but…” he shifted in place a bit.

“Imperial politics can be treacherous Thor,” he began, addressing his relative directly.
“We’re both blessed to be removed from it on the frontier, but fate has thrust me into its centre. I need a fleet I can rely on. I trust Hiram, but it will take more than his ships to hold off the Imperial Starfleet. The Rhodes fleet cannot leave the Margraviate of Holseta. So I am asking you to call the mercenaries of the Sordlands to my aid. So that should the political situation turn dire I will have a fleet I can trust.”

“How many do you need?” Thor answered reflexively. He then realised what he had just said. He said yes and was offering everything without having the details. But Aaron Rhodes was family… they were not close, but he was family. They wouldn’t betray him, would they?

Thor looked at Hákon. His Marshal just gave him an encouraging nod, signifying that he was doing the right thing. Thor resolved that he would place his trust on Aaron Rhodes. Surely his family would not put him and the Sordlands in danger.

“The Sordlands would be happy to assist House Rhodes in keeping the Imperium secure,” Thor clarified. “Maybe we can hammer out the details… Our Marshal Hákon is here.”

Aaron nodded.

Hákon decided to speak. He had known Aaron from the battlefield. House Rhodes had hired Sordic mercenaries, including his Black Wolves Band, to put down the Three Fold Path rebellion. He had encountered Aaron Rhodes and saw how the man treats his warriors, even paid ones, respectfully. He would not cheat them or send them to pointless battles. But there were some things that need to be ironed out.

“Margrave Aaron,” Hákon began, “it’s been a long time since we’ve met. The Sordlands would be very much honoured to assist you and the Imperium.” The Marshal smiled. “I know you know this already, and I hate to be the one to say this… but the mercenaries need to be paid for their service.”

Hákon hoped that Aaron understood the implications. Would the House Rhodes pay for everything? It seemed to be a heavy investment for something for a fleeting advantage. Privately, if Aaron would be negotiating for a lower cost for the mercenaries, they could reduce the share of the Sordlandic government for the deployment. But he would have Aaron ask for it.

Aaron had served with Sordlander mercenaries before, and nodded. He had accepted this as a necessity. What he was asking for was more than a few legions too. He needed a fleet that, if combined with the Drof-Antier fleet, could stand up to the Imperial Starfleet. It would be costly, but House Rhodes could shoulder the cost. All made more necessary by the need for ships to defend the capital.

“House Rhodes will shoulder the cost for the fleet. With any luck we will not need it for long. I will move quickly to select a new Emperor or Empress should I become Regnier. And once everything is secured we can all hopefully return to the western reaches and free ourselves from Imperial politics once more,” he added with a chuckle.

He shifted his focus from Hákon to Thor. He’d offered everything on instinct, before cooler heads had prevailed. He truly wanted to help him. He sighed. He valued the Sordlanders. His family had since they were found so long ago. Yet he felt like he’d been distant. He hadn’t spoken to Thor since his father had passed, and here he was, ready to help him instantly.

“Thank you Thor, Marshal Hákon,” he said with a nod. “Hiram is a friend of mine to be sure, but at the end of the day I’m a lord on the frontier. I don’t have many people I can rely on. Thank you, for your support.”
He meant it too. Simply knowing he’d be able to count on the Sordlanders was a relief. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Hiram. He trusted him a good deal. He just didn’t trust the Drof-Antier fleet to be enough to fend off the Imperial Starfleet. The Sordlanders would be enough though.

He stood up, and Thor and Hákon followed suit.

“Thor, you and your brothers should come to Holseta when this is all over,” he said with a smile.
“Killian and Aiden,” he added, referring to his sons, “would very much like to meet you. And given how well the Sordlands have been run since your ascension, I would say you’ve earned a holiday of sorts.”

“Thank you very much for the invitation, Margrave Aaron,” Thor replied, his eyes filled with excitement. The prospect of a trip to his ancestral homeland thrilled him. “I will let Marshal Hákon and your representative iron out the details.”

Aaron nodded, pulling Brodie up on his communicator.
“Commander Fisher, Marshal Hákon 91512032 will have details I need you to look over concerning mercenary contracts. Please see to it that everything is tended to.”

“Of course Your Grace,” Brodie replied.
Brodie entered the study, giving the Marshal and Sordlander Margrave a respectful bow.

“Commander, you and the Marshal work out the details. It should be a few hours before the Archdukes make up their minds and elect a Regnier. Thor, would like to have a meal with me while we wait on the election results?”

“I’d love to sit down for lunch with the future Regnier of the Imperium,” Thor beamed.




ᚵᛆᛝᚢ ᚼᚨᛋᛆᚧᛁᛝ ᛅᛋᚵ ᛊᚿ ᚡᚥᛚᛊᛁᛏᚢ ᚵᛘᚲᛆᛗᛆᛚ ᚡᛊᚵᚢᚼ.
Gangu hrásaðing äsg en vøleitu gýkamal veguhr.
The youth walk faster but the elders know the road.​

The two margraves sat down in a private dining room within the Iclinga as the cooks served up a hearty fine meal for the two men. Margrave Aaron Rhodes and Margrave Thor 12051509 were a generation apart; Aaron’s sons were about Thor’s age. Thor seemed to be in need of a fatherly figure ever since his father died. Thor seemed genuinely lost and needed help. Aaron’s heart went out to him. Poor kid was thrust into the rigours of managing a vast borderland, not being able to enjoy his childhood.

“So, how are the Sordlands?” Aaron inquired, trying to start a conversation as the food arrived.
“We’re… ok,” Thor answered tentatively. It was just three syllables, but the way Thor said it and the look in his eyes… there was much more meaning to it.

Aaron looked into Thor’s eyes. They, unlike his face, hadn’t been stressed by the rigors of rule. He took a sip of water before he replied.

“Ok…” he repeated. “Thor, I apologize. For not reaching out more since your father’s death. Your father was a good man and…” he sighed.
“My point is I suppose I let the lack of news coming from the Sordlands lull me into a sense that everything was well. I should know better though, that tranquility does not mean what it appears to mean.” He smiled and sighed.

“So if anything is wrong, or troubling you, you can tell me. We’re family.”

Family. It was what Thor had missed quite a lot. After the deaths of Baldr, Hallkell, and Gafn, his father became more withdrawn and delegated tasks to Thor. When Thor’s mother Lofn died four years ago, Sigur seemed resigned to dying too. Mere days after Thor turned eighteen, Sigur died in his sleep, probably because the Sordlands were then in Thor’s steady hands.

Thor had his younger brothers Finn, Styrbjörn, and Snaebjörn still with him. He was glad that they were supportive and tried to help him as much as they can. He also cherished the friendship of Kyle 12052277, a paternal second cousin around the same age. Kyle grew up within the People’s Palace and served as Lord Protector. Alas, his father Gunnsteinn 12059064 recalled Kyle to their home in Sector 1. But peers and younger brothers would not replace an older role model.

Hákon tried to be the fatherly figure to Thor after he came back from leading the Black Wolves mercenary band shortly after his father’s death. But Hákon had his own family and the margraviate’s military to manage. Sure, there were a lot of people in the Sordlands who could guide Thor, but having seen the people’s reaction to his father’s depression... any sign of weakness in the leader of a martial people would court disaster. Thor could not outwardly show any sign of it.

Maybe Aaron could replace his father? He said he was family. But that was a long time ago. Thor’s family were thoroughly integrated with the Sordics, so much so that Thor himself might be considered human trash too by some outsider’s standards. Aaron was apologising for not keeping up with him and his lands. To Thor, it seemed that Aaron and House Rhodes still felt some sort of responsibility for the Sordlands.

“There is no need to apologise, Margrave Aaron,” Thor said. “I’d like to… thank you for your offer.” He smiled as he started to cut the piece of steak on his plate. “Maybe I will take up your offer someday… and maybe you can keep it in utmost confidence, Margrave Aaron.”

“Of course,” Aaron assured him. “And please, call me Aaron.”

“Aaron…” Thor repeated the name. “It feels awkward though,” Thor chuckled, “you’re old enough to be my father for me to call you on a first name basis.”

Aaron laughed. “I get it. Just throw away the titles is what I meant. There is no need for us to use our titles with each other. We’re family…” Aaron then took a sip of his drink. “If it will make you more comfortable, you can call me Uncle Aaron.”

Thor nodded as he chewed his food. Uncle Aaron… seemed fitting. Aaron Rhodes was as avuncular as Hákon, maybe Thor could look up to him. Thor washed down the food with his drink and afterwards said, “Uncle Aaron… maybe you can teach me statecraft after your term as Regnier is over.”

“I would be happy to do so,” Aaron smiled. “And hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later. The process to select a new Emperor or Empress seems like it will be trying,” he mused. Such a process hadn’t been followed in nearly a thousand years. Still, the procedures and rules were laid out clearly for all to see.
“I imagine it’ll take some politicking,” he shrugged. “If you’re looking to learn statecraft, however, then I imagine I will have much more to teach you-and your cousin Killian- after I’m done with this blasted job,” he chuckled.

Thor laughed softly as he ate. He wondered what his cousins, Aaron’s children, were like. Would they welcome him like their father had? He didn’t think about it too long though. Partially because of the remarkable situation at hand. A Margrave from his corner of the galaxy - someone related to him no less - could be elevated to the position of Regnier.

His people had no interest in, or desire to get involved with, Imperial politics. It was mostly because of their own past as refuse, unwanted, rejected garbage. He got the sense, however, that House Rhodes was not too enamoured with the Imperial centre either, historically.
Despite that Aaron seemed well regarded among the nobles and politicians in the Diet. He was friends with an Archduke who was related to the recently-deceased Emperor. And had served as a Legionnaire. He seemed able to operate in both worlds - the core and the fringes. His mind raced with the stories he might be able to tell.

“I wish they soon elect a new Emperor who’d take the best interests of the Imperium at heart,” Thor said earnestly. “So that we can go back to managing our lands.”




OOC note: Co-written with @Kyle
 

Andrenne

bastard
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The Diet Galactica

Dae-Soon had been incredibly quiet so far. Her hands clasped together in silent contemplation. Her circular, (literal) rose-tinted shades hid her true expression- one of anxiety. She was incredibly still, like a statue. Dae-Soon brooded, since she had no one to speak with here. Not even of her own house, since she had requested to go alone. No co-conspirators, no advisors. Just herself... and a pack of hyenas. She had the support of the Imperial House of all people. Incredibly unexpected but she wouldn't complain. When would she get an opportunity like this again? She hadn't originally intended to go for the throne but with direct support... that plan had changed. All she had to do was support House Rhodes for Regnier. Not her first pick for the role considering their distaste for House Wonju but they'd do fine. Just fine. After what seemed like an eternity she stood up suddenly and put a white-gloved hand on the desk in front of her forcefully, her other hand balled up in a fist and against her hip.

"I, Archduchess Wonju Dae-Soon, support Margrave Aaron Rhodes to be Regnier of the Imperium."

There was no glance to any other Archduke or Duke in the room as she sat back down without another word. This was- completely out of left field for House Wonju frankly. They were supporting a house that was directly involved with the Imperial House. It was likely a complete screwball for any political analysts attempting to predict who they'd support and for anyone that hadn't seen her speaking with Hiram. She had returned to her brooding, statue-like pose from earlier as if she had said nothing and done nothing.
 

Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Diet Galactica,
Taer Atlos


“Alright,” the Supreme Chancellor said, tallying the votes. “It’s quite obvious who it will be. Margrave Aaron Rhodes is hereby appointed Regnier during the interregnum.”

He stood up and thanked the electors individually. “I will relay the news to the Margrave. In the meantime, I wish the Prince-Electors the wisdom of the gods in their search for our next Emperor. Praise the Gods!”

“Praise the Gods,” Hiram responded as the Chancellor left. He didn’t stay longer after that. He knew many would want to address him about whether he intended to claim the throne. He wasn’t ready just yet to let his intentions go public.

He made his way towards the landing platform, calling in a shuttle to take him to the House’s estate. His guards fell in around him, clearing a path as they moved quickly. He was deep in thought and didn’t notice Alshanah approaching.

“Your Highness,” she called out.

He looked up, expecting to see a noble attempting to speak with him, but when he saw who it was he smiled. She was dressed in modest garb, looking more like an average citizen than the former royal consort. It was expected of her to remain at the palace until after the funeral, so her apparel was a disguise. “What can I do for you?” he asked, motioning for his guards to let her approach.

She fell in beside him as he continued towards the platform. A ship was taking off, likely carrying some lord back up to his ship, or away to their own estate on the planet. He noticed a number of transports hovering around, waiting in turn to pick up their house’s noble lords.

“I wanted to take you up on your offer,” she said. “I considered my options and I think it best to relocate to Coarin. If you still want me to.”

“The offer still stands,” he responded. He had felt that she would accept. Her closeness to his cousin would have given her access to numerous secrets that other houses would want for themselves, and some would want to keep secret. Who else but his house could protect her? “House Drof-Antier protects its own.”

“Thank you,” she said, another shuttle taking off to be replaced by the next. “I do have one condition,” she added.

He hid a smile. He had expected she would. He checked the insignia on the side of the shuttle but it wasn’t his. “Name it,” he said, already guessing her answer.

She shuffled her feet nervously, waiting for the shuttle to take off, its loud engines cutting off her response anyway. “I want a title,” she said. “And not something for show, a real title with all its rights and status.”

The next shuttle landed and he saw his insignia on its side. “Done,” he said, stepping towards the transport.

“It’s that easy?” she asked in surprise. “Not even a negotiation?”

He turned back, stepping once again to stand in front of her. “Shiram picked you for a reason, shared his life with you for a reason. And I’m going to trust his choice. I want you to serve my house, and a title is a price I’m willing to pay.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. “Now get back to the palace before anyone notices you.”

She thanked him and then turned and hurried away. He watched her go for a minute. He had learned never to doubt his instincts, and now was no exception. He knew she would be worth the investment. Likely as Shiram had. He smiled and turned to make his way to the shuttle.

KAWOOOMFFF!

The shuttle went up in an explosion of fire. The shockwave threw Hiram through the air. He felt his shoulder dislocate as he came down on it, followed by his face smacking into the ground as he tumbled over twice. He came to a stop against something hard.. He tried to push himself back up a wave of blackness washed over him and he fell back down. And then everything went black.


The Cathedral of Aramay,
Unknown System


Once again Alecto Rian stood in the empty room, the old man sitting upon his plain throne. He had once again come alone, the same group having led him here, and once again having to cross the final hallway by himself.

“The Brotherhood has news,” the old man said.

“Finally,” Rian responded jubilantly.

The old man shook his head, his face set in a grim frown. “Your enemies are far more numerous than you would suspect.”

Rian took two steps forward, his hands clenched into fists. He needed to know who had killed Shiram. He needed vengeance. “Who?” he demanded. “Which house? Or houses? Tell me!”

“All of them,” the old man replied. “None of them.”

“Give me more than cryptic answers,” Rian bellowed, taking another step forward. “I will not honor my side of the deal if you do not honor yours.”

The old man sighed, closing his eyes. “Your anger will not avail you,” he said calmly. He then opened his eyes and fixed them on Rian. The Grand Admiral found himself transfixed by the stare and his anger, his drive to take on the galaxy right this instant, faded.

The old man continued. “There are forces at work here beyond either of us. Something manipulates events to its own end. But what? The Brotherhood does not know. And thus the Cathedral fears. But we will honor our bargain. We don’t know who ultimately was behind the fate of your beloved emperor, but we know who administered the poison.”

“Who?” Rian asked again. This time his voice was calm, almost timid. These cultists spoke of things beyond him, beyond what mattered to him, but it was enough to humble his fire for the moment.

“Hiram Drof-Antier.”
 

Lord Lore

Eldritch Horror that Plagues Eras Cartography
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Communication Office, Anduri Embassy, Taer Atlos

Knowing that there was nothing to do after the closing of the nominations the aged statesman decided to retire until a decision was ton be announced. He now sits in a spartanly decorated room of smooth metal wall within the Anduri state building in the capital. Before him a large oval table with a small panel in front of his chair.

The man slots two small crystalline rods into the panel before inputting the communication array details for his ship in orbit, the ASDV Vedar, within a minute a small holographic representation of the Captain of the ship appears. The fairly young woman bows slightly before saying, "Chancellor, is there something you need from me?".

"I am actually in need of two things from you, the daily report from the Steward if it has come in. But before that I wish for you to dispatch a runner and a shuttle."

The captain quickly gestures to a man in the background outside of the range of the projector to listen in to the discussion.

"In my personal quarters there is a hand carved box of black crystal. Inside should be my mother's coronation medallion with the crest of House Henreves on it. I want you to deliver it with a letter I will shortly send you to the personal ship of the Marcher Lord Rhodes."

From the Lords of the Anduri

You probably do not know of us, a people on the opposite side of Ithdod from yourselves, well outside your periphery. But it is our belief you will be the most even handed and rational choices for Reigner. As such I would like to extend symbol of my clan and house as a gesture of friendship. We have some ideas of how this could be beneficial for both our houses and keep the proverbial wolves away from both our lands.

When you are ready to discuss these you can contact me through my personal ship the Vedar or through Andal-Vedar's offices in the Diet.

~Count Mekonis Vel of Andal-Vedar, Lord Chancellor of the Anduri.

The Captain nods sending the young sailor now tasks as courier before noting. "Unfortunately there is no word from the Steward, I will send a request to Yventral for any news. Though some of our officers are hearing some scattered reports of worrying activities of the humans on some of our border worlds."

"Alright, I will be dining at the Embassy before returning to the Diet to converse with our staff there." Mekonis starts to pulls the crystals out of the terminal quickly cutting off the holographic display.
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Iclinga, in orbit above Taer Atlos
Aaron had wished Thor well, and restated his offer to host the young Margrave and his brothers on Holseta for a visit once this craziness was settled. Thor and Marshal Hákon had taken their leave, leaving Aaron with the creeping pensiveness concerning the Regnier elections. He sighed as he took a seat back in his study.

“Are you doing alright?” Brodie asked, entering as Aaron tossed his head back.

“As well as can be expected. You tended to the mercenary contracts with Marshal Hákon?”

“Yes, it’s all settled.”

“Good, that’s some peace of mind.”

“Do you really think you’ll need them?” Brodie asked as he took the seat across from Aaron.

“I just know that we have no Imperial Starfleet. If I am to be Regnier then I should be able to count on the Starfleet to enforce the rule of law, but I can’t.”

“Do you not trust Hiram?” Brodie mused.

“I do,” Aaron answered. “Absolutely I do, but his House’s fleet cannot stand against the Imperial Starfleet alone. At least not to a degree I’d be comfortable with. The Sordlanders tip the numbers game in our favour. And besides, the more ships I have I can count on the better. This could get dangerous. I don’t intend to leave cards unplayed.”

“Well Margrave Thor seemed eager” Brodie replied.

“He’s a good kid,” Aaron nodded. “Poor lad’s had it rough enough. He looks like he’s been stressed pretty heavily in four years. I should have been there for him.”

“With all due respect” Brodie said, “you offered to help. He never took you up on the offer.”

“You know how Sordlanders are. The kid thought he had to appear like a proper soldier for his people. I should have been more proactive. Besides, it would be good to get to know him better. They don’t have many they can rely on. I can say, after speaking to Thor, that he wants the best. And takes his position seriously. Maybe I’ll be lucky and some of his attitude will rub off on Killian” he laughed.

Brodie couldn’t help but chuckle. He hadn’t spoken much to Thor himself, but he thought he’d get along with Aaron’s youngest, Aiden. Killian, Aaron’s oldest however, had a certain lack of concern for the more minute aspects of governing.
“Send Killian to Ruslsorp after Thor has visited Holseta” the Commander smirked. Now it was Aaron’s turn to laugh.

“That’s not a bad idea actually” he chuckled.
“I do owe it to Thor though,” Aaron said, “to see to it that he does alright.”

Brodie was about to respond when the doors to the study opened. He and Aaron looked up as Captain Fox entered.

“I’m sorry to disturb you and the Commander, Your Grace. We have received a communique from the Supreme Chancellor.”

Aaron tensed up a bit.
“And?”

“You have been elected Regnier of the Empire.”



House Rhodes shuttle to Taer Atlos

The trip to the surface of the capital was a tense one. Aaron was lost in thought, and Brodie tried to do his best to lighten the mood.

“The Margrave of Holseta. Regnier of the Empire. What would your father say?” Aaron began to chuckle.

“Dad would have shot ‘em for even suggesting it.”

“Your Grace” the pilot to the shuttle announced, “there’s been an explosion. Archduke Hiram Drof-Antier is in serious condition.”

Aaron’s blood went cold.
“What? Was it an attack?”

“They’re in the process of figuring it out” the pilot replied.

“Change course. I need to see him.”

“I’m afraid I can’t, Your Grace.”

“Why not!?” Aaron asked, panicked.

“The Supreme Chancellor is requesting you return to the Diet. You need to take the oath as Regnier. He says it’s imperative more than ever that you take office as quickly as possible.”



Diet Galactica, Taer Atlos

"This arrived for you" Brodie handed a pad to Aaron. It was a message from Count Mekonis Vel of Andal-Vedar, Lord Chancellor of the Anduri.

"The Anduri? I didn't expect to hear from them." He seemed preoccupied. Given all that has happened.
"But it's good. Things are falling apart. Alien or not, allies are allies."

"Sordlanders, Anduri. You're putting together an eclectic coalition" Brodie joked. Aaron just rolled his eyes. The Chancellor had approached, thankfully cutting off Brodie's commentary on the matter.

Aaron stood at the centre of the Diet Galactica, his heart racing, and breathing heavily.

“Are you ready, Margrave?” the Supreme Chancellor asked.

“Yes” Aaron nodded.

“I truly hope so” the Chancellor replied, his voice shaking with worry. He then activated the microphones.
“Aaron Felix Rhodes, Margrave of Holseta. Please raise your right hand.”

Aaron nodded, raising his right hand.

“I, Aaron Felix Rhodes…”

“I, Aaron Felix Rhodes…”

“In the name of the gods, give this holy oath…”

“In the name of the gods, give this holy oath…”

“...swear to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Imperium Galactica…”

“...swear to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Imperium Galactica…”

“...to extend law, justice, and mercy in all decisions in the execution of my duty…”

“...to extend law, justice, and mercy in all decisions in the execution of my duty…”

“...and to respect the institutions, liberties, and integrity of the Empire.”

“...and to respect the institutions, liberties, and integrity of the Empire.”

The Supreme Chancellor nodded, giving Aaron a bow.
“On behalf of the Diet Galactica, I congratulate you on your election, Regnier Rhodes.”

Aaron managed a smile as the Diet applauded. He already felt the cold hands of treachery clawing for him. Still, he took the Chancellor’s place in addressing the Diet.

“The paramount goal of my time in this office will be the selection of a new Imperial dynasty, and the restoration of our beloved peace and security. I intend to convene with the electors as soon as possible, but there is one matter that must be attended to before I do. The attack on my good friend Archduke Hiram Drof-Antier has made the Celestial Throne’s defence a matter of urgency. I hereby, as the duly elected Regnier of the Imperium, order Grand Admiral Rian to return the Imperial Starfleet to the capital to defend it in this time of uncertainty. And for the Grand Admiral to give a complete account of his whereabouts and actions following Emperor Shiram’s death to myself and the Diet as a whole.”

With that he stepped down from the podium and made his way out of the Diet’s chamber.
“Get me Archduchess Wonju Dae-Soon” he said quietly to Brodie.
“I need to meet with her before the Electors convene.”
 
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North Timistania

RolePlay Moderator
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The Diet Galactica

I watch from the balcony of my box as the Regnier takes his oaths of office, the success of Hiram’s gamble does little to reassure me. The raising of margrave Rhodes to Regnier is likely the prelude to a greater struggle, one that will threaten the imperium in its entirety. The empire may have gained a temporary head of state but there remains the matter of its missing fleets.

Admiral Rian's mysterious exodus raises many questions, and few are likely to have pleasant answers. Whether he intends to seize power for himself or to enact some hidden agenda remains to be seen. However the damage is already done, entire systems have been robbed of the shield that is the Starfleet and the empire's enemies are likely slavering at the mouth as they plot to take advantage of the chaos while we debate on Taer Altos.

“Moremi” a static-filled voice calls out over the comms

“What is it, Oba?” I reply turning from the diet below

“I have news on the bombing,” he says in a grim tone

The Diet was always going to be a nightmare scenario, an interregnum invites intrigue and backstabbing as no other event can. But for a sitting archduke to be attacked in such a brazen manner suggests that forces far worse than scheming nobles are at work. Removing Hiram from play robs the new Regnier of a powerful ally and potentially eliminates the strongest candidate for the throne proper.

“is Hiram alive?” I ask

“So far.... but he's in serious condition, whoever wanted him out of the way may still succeed” he replies his serious tone suggesting the arch-dukes life is very much still in the balance

“Get back here as soon as you can, we need to move quickly before things deteriorate further,” I say rising from my chair

Poisoned emperors, rogue admirals and now potentially a murdered archduke, Taer Altos is more than living up to its reputation as a viper pit. I had hoped to meet with the new Regnier in private, away from the prying eyes of the Diet but now it seems I will need to risk acting openly.

“Captain Fela” I snap in an authoritative voice

“My liege?” he replies in a reverent tone as he slams his fist against his chest in salute

“Take my son back to the estate, ensure that the property is kept under full lockdown until otherwise instructed”

“As you command my lady” he replies obediently before saluting and turning on his heel to carry out my orders

My remaining guards follow me in perfect step as I journey toward the halls below, time to have a word with the Regnier in person. I had hoped to avoid such direct appearances but the time for subtle diplomacy has been unceremoniously ended by the attempted murder of Hiram. Whoever is behind the chaos has just sent a strong message, no one is safe not even an archduke. It's time to make our allegiances clear.
 

Loz

TNPer
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Taer Atlos, Capital Estate of House Khor

"Things really seem to be heating up." Said Minras, the Archduke's son.

Arnu laughed a wheezy laugh. "Did you just make a pun about Hiram being blown up?"

"I don't know, maybe." Said Minras absently. "How is he?"

"Critical. They're unsure if he'll pull through. If he dies it will be a rather irritating setback in solving this riddle." Said Arnu.

"Riddle?" Asked Minras. "You're going to investigate?"

"Oh of course. This is all too much to miss. However I fear I've always been a terrible detective."

Minras laughed. "Azuari always snuck everything right by you when we were kids..." Minras trailed off and looked off thoughtfully. "Maybe you should have brought her with you."

Arnu raised an eyebrow. "You don't want a crack at it?'

Minras scoffed. "Azuari lives the the capital intrigue. I think she would be an asset."

"That's the nicest thing you've ever said about your sister. Said Arnu barely containing tears.

Minras rolled his eyes and disconnected.


Taer Atlos-The Diet Galactica

Arnu and Kardin stood under the shade of a colonnade as the shuttle carrying Azuari landed at the Diet Galactica. Arnu smiled as his daughter disembarked, "Welcome to Taer Atlos." He said wrapping her in a hug."

"Okay, okay. gods enough." She said worming her way out. "Good morning Kardin." She said giving a (voluntary) hug to the guard Captain. "I hope all this time with him hasn't driven you insane." She said nodding at Arnu.

Kardin laughed. "He wouldn't have hired me if I wasn't cracked already my Lady."

"Yeah yeah yeah." Said Arnu. "Let's get going, we have quite a bit to do." Arnu said motioning towards a small vessel at the edge of the landing area.

"Not very Archducal, is it?" Questioned Azuari.

"Hush." Replied Arnu sharply. "Get abroad and we'll speak more candidly."

The three took their seats on the shuttle, and strapped in. The vessel was not a thing of comfort, it jerked and groaned as they took off. To make matters worse was a near constant grinding sound coming from something which the passengers could only image was important. For Arnu purposes however, it was perfect.

After an uncomfortably long silence Arnu spoke. "Do you know why you're here?" He asked Azuari.

"Because Minras saw an opportunity to get rid of me?" She replied.

Kardin laughed as Arnu looked for words. "Well....you might be right, but the more important reason is because we have a mystery to unravel here, with Archduke Hiram Drof-Antier at the center."

"The guy who got blown up?" Azuari asked.

"Yes the guy that got blown up." Arnu said exasperated. "Now certain people have informed me that just prior to the explosion Hiram was seen talking to a certain women. Whom I believe lives at the location to which we are going. Very simply I would like you to find out everything you can from in regards to the current galactic predicament we find ourselves in."

"Oh is that all?" Said Azuari sarcastically. "And why me over you?"

"Well, I tend to be...unsubtle." Arnu said

Azuari burst out laughing. "YOU DON'T SAY." She yelled. "Where are we going anyway she asked, finally looking out a window.

"The Imperial Palace."

"Oh fuck you."


Taer Atlos-The Imperial Palace

As Legionnaires escorted Azuari to the late Emperor's chambers she could not help but notice how still and quiet the Palace lay. Their footsteps echoed through the endless corridors and hidden places of the Imperial Home. Having always been uncomfortable with silence, Azuari felt the need to speak.

"Silent as the grave in here huh?" She asked one of the guards. None of them so much as grunted as they continued their march.

"THE GRAVE! WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT!" She thought to herself putting on a polite outer smile. Luckily the awkwardness was brought to a sudden end by the groups arrival at their destination.

"The Imperial Consort is within My Lady. We shall remain here until you have finished paying your respects to the Emperor." Said what Azuari imagined must have been the guard captain.

"Thank you." She said quietly as she went inside. The room was freezing, but otherwise less extravagant than Azuari imagined. In the middle lay the body in stasis, and the consort beside it.

"Thank you for coming Lady Azuari." Said Anshalah the Imperial Consort. "I did not expect any of the Archducal children to have made a personal pilgrimage."

Azuari put on her best smile. "Of course, he was good man, and friend to my father." She said with false confidence. "Did he ever speak of my father?"

"At times. As much as I imagine your father spoke of him." Said the consort calling Azuari's bluff.

"So often?" Azuari replied.

Anshalah laughed. "Why are you here? Here to play the game?" She asked.

The Consort's directness took Azuari off guard, but she was always quick to recover. She smiled. Walked to the door, and closed it softly. "It would be more correct to say I'm here because you're the one playing the game."

"I cannot be Empress Anshalah said coldly."

"No." Azuari said. "But you could benefit greatly from being friendly with someone who could be." Azuari said pacing around the chamber.

"Can we get to the point."

"As you wish." Said Azuari. "Who killed the Emperor."

"I do not know." She replied.

"Who does?" Azuari questioned back.

"Someone must." Said the Consort in turn.

"What will it take for you to be more cooperative?"

"A sol barony." She said.

"Done." Repied Azuari.

"At the least." The consort continued.

Azuari smiled. "Depending on what happens in the next ten minutes maybe we'll start at Duke and go from there."

Anshalah smiled. "Sit down."


Taer Atlos, Capital Estate of House Khor

"Alecto and Hiram?" Asked Minras. "Well that is bad business, do you think the bombing was a counter assassination attempt?"

"Most certainly." Said Arnu

"What do you need me to?"

"Find me Alecto."


Imperium Starship Dauntless-Dead Space

"Captain, the supply ship is ready." Said the 1st Officer to Captain Arkra Vas.

"Very good." Replied Vas. "Let's make this quick and quiet."

"Aye Sir."


The 1st Officer barked commands, and the ship was in motion. It was a quick warp to meet with the covert supply ship. This was the new prefered method now that Alecto had taken the fleet into hiding. Captain Vas did well to keep his disdain from the men, but slinking in the shadows sat uneasy with him. Especially without clear guidance, and a dead Emperor. Rapidly the Dauntless overtook the supply barge and assumed boarding position. The two ships interlinked, and the Sailors of both vessels began the transfer. Vas watched as a myriad smugglers silently loaded goods onto his vessel. In another situation he might have had them all in chains, but these were not ordinary times. His concentration was broken however by a small xeno trying to get his attention.

"Captain Vas." It hissed. "With me."

"Why woul..." Vas started but the creature was already moving, and for some reason Vas felt compelled to follow. The xeno led him into the bowels of the smuggler ship to a small room with a screen.

"Highness." The creature hissed at the screen before scurrying away.

Vas whipped around as he heard a familiar voice from the screen. "Didn't think our next meeting would be like this." Said the voice of Minras.

Vas knelt instinctually. "What the fuck." He said from the ground laughing.

"Get up, get up, get up." Said Minras. "And I could rightly ask you the same thing."

Vas stood up. "We're on...special assignment Minras."

"I guess that's one way to call going rogue." Minras laughed. "What the hell is happening?"

"I wish I knew, but orders are hard to come by these days." Replied Vas. "We're out here pissing around in dead space while the Empire is defenseless."

"What's Alecto's game?"

Vas laughed. "If I knew that I probably wouldn't be here in this situation talking to you now."

"Fair enough." Said Minras. "Care to find out what his game is?"

"I'd rather not be killed Minras."

"You owe me." Said Minras.

Vas sighed. "Tell me what you need."


Taer Atlos, Capital Estate of House Khor

"He'll get us names, and try to sow a bit of discord. We can count him him if the time comes." Said Minras from Armintarik.

"Excellent, well done." Said Arnu

"Here for you old man." Said Minras with a smile.


Taer Atlos-Imperial Legion Headquarters

"Archduke Khor, to what do I owe the pleasure." Said Irena Zabi, Grand Legate of the Imperial Legions.

"Well I'll be honest." Said Arnu. "I'm not here on a social call."

Irena smirked. "No one ever is."

Arnu leaned in. "What If I told you I had information about the death of the Emperor and the disappearance of the Grand Admiral.

Irena put her arms on the table. "You would have my attention."
 

Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Taer Atlos,
Imperial Hospital,
Kyzant City


“He has two broken ribs, a broken wrist, and numerous fractures throughout his body. He also hit his head really hard, but we won't know the extent of the damage until the swelling in his brain goes down.”

Faizal took the news calmly, belying the anger and panic underneath. The doctor patiently waited for a response, but all he could think about was that someone had tried to murder his father. They had tried to murder him on the Diet Galactica grounds.

“Your Grace,” the Doctor said, “Your father isn’t out of danger…”

“I understand,” Faizal responded. He could see his father, resting in the room beyond. He was connected to multiple machines, tubes running into his arms and mouth. Much of his face was bandaged, and Faizal could see his chest rising up and down. He was alive for now. At least there was that. “What can I expect.”

“If the swelling goes down we’ll be able to take a look inside, see how extensive the damage is. If it doesn’t or it gets worse, we’ll need to operate to release pressure.”

He nodded. “Keep me informed, Doctor. Do whatever you can.”

All he could do now was wait. He wasn’t one to sit around, so he needed to be busy. He left the hospital, intending to return to the estate, but changed his mind and ordered the pilot to take them to the Diet Galactica.

The city passed below, the lights twinkling in the darkness. The traffic of the city passing far below. He hadn’t understood why his father had no ambition for the throne, until he saw the cramped and crowded, bustling imperial city. To trade the peace of Coarin for the frantic pace of Taer Atlos, seemed madness now.

But if the alternative was for his house to be picked off one by one, it was a trade he would be willing to make. His transport touched down on the pad at the Diet Galactica. As he marched away towards the consulate buildings, he could still see the scorch marks and cracked stone from the explosion.

He barely looked though. He had a purpose. He marched into the Coarin consulate, passed the startled late night staff, and found his father’s office. Taking a seat in his father’s chair, which felt way too big for him, he began making calls.


Coarin,
In Orbit Over the Planet


Adammar Taschal stood in shock at the news. There had been an attempt on Hiram’s life. “Do you need me to return to Taer Atlos?” he asked. The face of Count Faizal on the communicator was clearly haggard and tired.

“I need all of our forces here,” he said, turning his attention to the Cruzier. “Bring the entire fleet. If someone thinks they can attack House Drof-Antier, they will be met with hellfire.

Imersa Natal nodded, and she turned to relay the order. But Taschal was in a bit more of a sound mind. “Wait,” he said, stopping her. He turned back to Faizal. “The Capital’s orbital defenses would open fire on our fleet, and while I have no doubt we would prevail, how many ships would we lose?”

“This isn’t the time for discussion,” Faizal responded, a vein on his neck bulging from anger. “We must protect ourselves, and the Imperium.”

Taschal wanted to rant about the impatience and stupidity of youth, but with Hiram in serious condition, Faizal was the acting Archduke. “Assaulting the capital will cause all out war,” he rebutted. “But there is another way. I have never steered you wrong Your Grace, will you trust me?”

Faizal hesitated for a few seconds, then the anger seemed to go out of him and now he just looked worn out. “What would you suggest?”

Taschal breathed out the air he didn’t know he was holding in. “Go to Aaron Rhodes. Your father already offered our fleet. Offer it again, and we can bring our forces to the capital without starting a war.”

“Can we trust Rhodes wasn’t the one…”

“Your father trusted him.”

It was enough to get Faizal to come to his senses. “You’re right, Count Taschal. I was thinking irrationally. Very well, I will stick to my father’s plan for the time being.”

Faizal reached out to turn off the communicator, but Taschal wasn’t done yet. “There’s one other thing I need to report,'' he said.

Faizal’s hand stopped and he pulled it back. “Continue.”

“I finished questioning the crew of the frigate, the one that didn’t leave with the rest of the Starfleet. It appears Grand Admiral Rian has ordered the fleet to a number of remote locations, places way off the typical trade routes. The Frigate’s navigation computers had been wiped, but my technicians were able to recover what I believe is one of these locations.”

“So Rian ordered the Starfleet away from defending the Imperium, to do what?” Faizal asked.

“I don’t know yet,” Taschal admitted, “but we can’t afford to sit around and wait to find out.”

Faizal rubbed his beard as he thought. Taschal wondered if the young man was ready to take the reins from his father. The next few days would tell. “Take this frigate, Count Taschal, and make contact with the Starfleet. Try to find out what Rian is planning.”


Cathedral of Aramay,
Unknown System


Alecto Rian had returned to his starship. He had been prepared to order the entire Starfleet to jump to Coarin and blast Hiram Drof-Antier into dust. But as his ship left behind the trinary stars and their interference, they began receiving updates on events that had transpired. The first was the orders from Margrave Rhodes to return with the fleet at once.

Rian scoffed. “They didn’t take long appointing a Regnier. This Margrave is a fool if he thinks I intend to reply.”

Commander Vis approached and passed him another report. “It appears there’s been an attack on Archduke Hiram,” she said.

He read the report. At first he was angry that he wouldn’t be able to make Hiram pay for poisoning the Emperor, but then he started laughing. So Hiram had enemies after all. If he survived, Rian would make him pay. But even if he didn’t, it would be the end for House Drof-Antier once he sat on the Celestial Throne.

“Prepare transwarp, set a course for the rendezvous point.” He would need to start planning. It wouldn’t be easy, even with the largest fleet in the galaxy, to assault Taer Atlos.


Taer Atlos,
Headquarters of the Imperial Legion


Grand Legate Irena Zabi had expected to remain as neutral in the proceedings as possible. She knew eventually that the numerous hopefuls for the Imperial Throne would eventually come, trying to garner her support in the upcoming power struggle. Her intentions though, was to flatter them with empty words until she knew for sure which house would be coming out on top.

Interestingly, it was the Archduke of Armintarik that approached her first. He stormed into her office, the way that the nobility did, as if no one would dare to stop him from going wherever he wished. She had been speaking with some of her Legates, but cut the communication short as he barged in.

“Archduke Khor, to what do I owe this pleasure?” she asked, mustering up as much politeness as she could, a pleasant, but fake, smile on her lips.

“Well I’ll be honest. I’m not here on a social call.”

Obviously not, she thought. “No one ever is,” she said out loud.

"What If I told you I had information about the death of the Emperor and the disappearance of the Grand Admiral?”

Maintaining her smile she leaned forward, her arms on the table. “You would have my attention."

Rian’s disappearance had been a matter of speculation. She had in fact been discussing such with her legates when the Archduke had arrived. Already there were many rumors floating around, none of which could be substantiated. Still, she was willing to hear anyone out that might have additional information.

Arnu told her what he knew, that Rian had been aware of the Emperor’s death at least an hour before the news was relayed to the Diet.That he had gone to the palace less than a day before that and, aside from the imperial household, was likely the last one to have spoken with Emperor Shiram.

“So he was aware the emperor was dying?” she asked, pondering over what the Archduke had told her.

“Yes, and I believe this is a blatant move by him to grab power.”

It was a logical conclusion, but what concerned her was that Alecto had chosen to abandon the capital, instead of moving the fleet to secure it. There was more at play here, but what?

“I will put the entire legion on alert, and tell them to report any movements by the Imperial Starfleet they witness,” she said. That of course, wasn’t why the Archduke Kjor was here. He certainly wasn’t sharing this information freely. He had his own motivations.
 

Kyle

Keep pounding.
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ᛏᚥᛚᛊᛝᛋᛚᚨᛏᚡᛁᚢᚱ ᚦᚢ ᛒᛚᛘᚲᚮᛞ; ᚠᛃᚥᛚᚯᛚᛋᚲᛦᛚᛞᚨᛏᚡᛁᚢᚱ ᚦᚢ ᚺᛚᛘᛟᛚᛚᚢᛋᛏ.
Tølengslátviur þu blýkóð; fjølölskyldátviur þu hýkollust.
Blood makes you related; loyalty makes you family.

Thor 12051509 immediately left the Imperial Diet after Aaron Rhodes’ oathtaking. It was not likely that he would have an audience with the new Regnier of the Imperium. He probably has a lot more important people to talk to… Thor of the Sordlands was not that important. And besides, there was nothing to discuss.

Instead, Thor typed a message in his communicator to his fellow Margrave who had just been elevated as Regnier. A family member in the centre of the Imperium. Even though they were generations distant, separated by realms and social status, Thor had developed some sort of fondness for and loyalty to Aaron Rhodes. Aaron was fatherly to Thor… or maybe Thor was merely projecting, searching for something to fill that gaping hole in his heart?

Nevertheless, Thor resolved to support Aaron, so that he won’t be consumed by the beast that is the Imperium. Thor kept this in mind as he typed his message.

To my dear good friend Aaron,
Good day! I hope this message finds you in good spirits.
We would like to send our congratulations on your election as Regnier of the Imperium. On behalf of the Margraviate of the Sordlands, I would like to express our utmost confidence in your ability to govern the vast Imperium while we are in this difficult times.
We understand that a captain does not steer his ship alone in the rough seas. This is why I wish to offer to you the full support of the Margraviate of the Sordlands. As I type this message, our mercenary bands, including the Þýran Sacred Band, the Black Wolves Band, the Troll Guard, the BattleTech Group, the White Company, and the Sisterhood, are en route to Taer Atlos to support you and your forces. They will be in your full command.
I also heard of the unfortunate fate that befell Archduke Hiram Drof-Antier. I personally fear for your safety there in the centre. As such, I would like to offer you a personal security contingent composed of my most trusted, most loyal Sordics to help guard you and Taer Atlos, while you take care of the Imperium.
Should you need further assistance, do not hesitate to contact me anytime. We Rhodes shall always support each other in times of need.
May Jayko smile upon you and your endeavours.
Your friend,
Thor 12051509
Margrave of the Sordlands
 
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Loz

TNPer
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All Hands

“I will put the entire legion on alert, and tell them to report any movements by the Imperial Starfleet they witness." Said the Legate. Arnu could see the unease on her face. He felt strange knowing she was readying herself for what he would say next. "Legate Zabi..." Arnu started. "If I'm anything I'm honest, and I'm going to be honest with you now." He walked over to her and leaned on the desk. If Rian, or anyone comes for the Throne who shouldn't be upon it, I want the Legion standing with House Khor." Irena looked up at him. Her face was stone but her eyes betrayed her. Arnu could see the wheels turning, looking for the perfect word to both secure herself, and not compromise the legion. "How do I know you'll take the throne? It wouldn't look very good if the Legion supported the losing candidate." Arnu smiled. "I don't intend to lose Irena, and I'm not asking you to fly banners from the compound." She sighed. "Then what are you asking? Arnu leaned in. "If it comes to it, support in combat, but for now I only ask subtle whispers among the ranks. When they talk in the barracks, when they mingle in the streets. Let it be know House Khor and the Legion share the same goal of safety and peace." Irena leaned back in her chair. "I make no promises." She said. "A good politician never does." Arnu replied. They stood for a moment in silence before Arnu began to make his way to the door, but before he left he turned back. "And Irena, you may want to do a scrub of your brass for anyone overly fond of Rian. I wouldn't rule out anyone as a threat." Irena nodded, and Arnu went on his way.

"So we're going for it?" Said Azuari. "Yes." Arnu replied. "We'll never have another shot like this. Minras, I need you here now too. You're mother can take the reigns better than any of us anyway." He said to the screen. "Of course father." Minras replied. "We need to move quickly." He continued. "Yes yes I know." Arnu said holding his temples. "Kardin." He barked. "Write this down." "Aye Sir." Said Kardin producing a holoscreen. "Drof-Antier, Rhodes, Valin, Doden." Arnu listed off. "These are first." he continued. "I will take Rhodes, and Valin. Azuari you have the Prince Bishop, Minras, you have Faizal." Arnu looked at Kardin. "Kardin, you will make sure no harm whatsoever comes to Archduke Hiram." Kardin nodded. "Alright." Arnu said. "To work."

First up was Archduke Fredrik Valin. To be true Arnu did not know the man well, but he knew of his house. House Valin had stood for a millennia, and many rumors swirled about them. What was important to Arnu however was how they maintained their distance while at the same time holding prominence as an Archduchy. It was this balance of power and discretion that Arnu valued in House Valin, and it was why he was walking to meet the fellow Archduke with the offer of the office of treasurer. The treasurer stood behind the throne, known but unknown, lording over the largest stockpile of wealth ever known in the galaxy. "Fredrik would love it." Arnu thought to himself. At the estate of House Valin Arnu was ushered in and brought directly to the Archduke, who was making it known he knew Arnu was not here for a mere social call. After a brisk walk to the study, Arnu was finally with the man himself. Fredrick, per usual looked resplendent in his flowing jacket. He was seated at a desk, and clearly waiting for Archduke Khor. "Fredrick.." Arnu began with a gesture of greeting, but he was cut off. "I know why you're here." said Fredrick. "So let's cut to the chase. What is your offer for my vote." Arnu was taken by surprise, but smiled. "I'll be direct then." He said. "I want you to be my treasurer and keep the Empire afloat." Fredrick laughed. "And what makes you think I want such an office over magistrate or justicar?" Arnu cocked his head and spoke. "Come now, we both know you don't want that visibility. And if the rumors are true, well...I imagine you don't like to be away from you wife and home very often." Fredrick replied with a smile. "I could work from here?" "Of course Arnu replied." He laughed and continued. "If I'm made Emperor I might work from home too." Fredrick gave a soft chuckle. "Alright Arnu you have my support for now. I'll let you know if there's anything else I decide I need while I can still leverage you." Arnu laughed again. "Well I appreciate the honesty." Fredrick gave a soft smile, and nod, clearly sending Arnu on his way.

Azuari paced the hall of House Doden as she waited for her audience with the Prince Bishop. The Prince Bishop was an anomalous man in the galaxy. Celibate and priests for nearly 30 years now, he had done more for the gods then most men outside the normal church establishment could dream of. He was 61 now but healthy and whip smart. Azuari questioned the judgment of sending her to talk to such a man, but her father most always knew best, much to her annoyance. After a few more times up and down the hall, Prince Doden appeared. Azuari bowed. "Thank you for meeting with me sir." She said. "Of course of course." Said Doden. "I was told you needed my council and I am not one to turn down one looking for advice. Now come, let us walk." Azuari fell in beside him and spoke. "That's correct your highness." She said. "Or I suppose I should say its more correct that my whole family needs your council." The Prince raised and eyebrow. "Indeed, your father must be overwhelmed with the choice he must make in the near future. To decide the Emperor is to decide the fate of us all." Azuari smiled "Well...He has...already made the choice." She said carefully. "Oh? And who will he be supporting?" Asked Doden. Azuari stopped. "Himself." The Prince coughed. "My my." He said. "Well that would require a unanimous vote would it not?" Azuari nodded. "That is why I'm here you grace." "But I am not a voting member." Replied the Prince. "No." Azurai said. "But you are a light to the faithful, and beyond. We need you with us if you we are to keep the Empire together. My father would like to make you the Justicar. So that you can guide our laws, and root out corruption within the Imperium." Prince Doden took a deep breath. "That is not what I expected to hear when I heard you were coming, but it is something to think about. To put the word of the gods into the practice of the law is something I have long desired." Azuari took his hand. "Then seize the opportunity your grace. My father, my family, and I need you." Prince Doden nodded. "Child, please take a message for your father."

As he approached the estate of House Drof-Antier Minras did not know what to expect. He had met Faizal years ago as a boy, but beyond that they had no real working relationship. He knew his challenge however would be offering terms to Faizal while not appearing to take advantage of the attack on his father. Although Minras knew that that was likely what the young Drof-Antier was already expecting. As Minras landed he noticed Faizal awaited him outside, a kind gesture he thought. Most would have made the son of an Archduke walk fully through their manor as a way to intimidate or show off. Minras departed the craft and showed his host the finest pleasantries of greeting that he could muster. The two exhancged this way awkwardly for several minutes before Faizal finally asked the question he had wanted to ask since he first received word that Minras wished to see him. "What brings you here Minras?" Minras took a moment to chose the correct words. He had several plays ready in his mind, but in the end he decided to go with the one given to him by his father, honesty. "Faizal I have news about the death of the Emperor, your father's attack, and why the Imperium is going to need you. Please, can we go somewhere private. Faizal was grave as he led him into the manor, to a quiet study. He closed the door firmly and invited Minras to sit. "Now, tell me what this is all about?" He asked behind pleading eyes. "My father has been investigating all the circumstances behind this mess, and has learned that Alecto Rian was perhaps the last person to see the Emperor alive, he knew before even the Diet Galactica. We believe he is making a power play. He has absconded with the fleet, and further more we believe he is behind the attack on your father." Faizal interrupted "How can you possibly know that? Have you had contact with him?" Minras shook his head. "No, but it all fits together. Of course he would want to kill your father as the closest relative of the Emperor. He was the closest to the throne." Faizal sat back and took deep breaths as Minras leaned in to continue. "Furthermore I have confirmed with my contacts in the starfleet that Alecto has them hiding in deadspace, but there are still those loyal to the Imperium in the ranks, and they will stand with us if Alecto moves on Taer Atlos." Faizal let out a sharp breath. "With us?" He asked. "Yes." Said Minras. My father and my family are rallying the houses of the Imperium, the church, and even the legion, we will not let chaos take the Empire. "And your father seeks the throne?" Asked Faizal. "He does, and when he does he will put an end to all this and bring to justice your father's attackers. No threat will come to House Drof-Antier or any loyal house of the Imperium." Minras realized now that he was breathing deeply, he had gotten in to his speech more than he had anticipated. He slowed himself down and continued. "And we want your help, we want you to serve as Magistrate of Taer Atlos, and show all the Imperium that Khor, and Drof-Antier are a united front against the threats to the Imperium. "And if my father awakes?" Faizal asked. "Then he will be proud to see his son standing proud, bringing peace, freedom, justice, and security to his house and the Imperium."

Arnu marched down the halls of the Diet Galactica towards the Office of the Regnier. In his mind were all of the endless deals that he and his were now making, but most of all he was thinking about how proud he was of his children for their part in this. He had to admit to himself he had underestimated their skills in diplomacy. He would not have been able to do any of this without them. As these thoughts swirled he finally reached the office, outside were several guards greeted him curtly and granted him entry. Within was Aaron Rhodes, he looked tired, but his figure was still that of a frontier lord, tall and powerful. The Regnier was so engrossed in his work that he did not even notice Archduke Khor enter. After several minutes Arnu finally knocked on the wall. "Good to see you Aaron." Margrave Rhodes' head shot up. "Arnu! Forgive me, as you can see running an Empire isn't everything its cracked up to be." Arnu laughed. "You're handling it well Aaron, we all know it." Arnu walked about and slouched unceremoniously into a chair. "This is not the place for you though. That's why I did not want to vote for you." Rhodes gave a smile, but dodged the subject. "How is your family?" He asked Arnu. "The family is well, but busy. I have them all off running errands. And I'm afraid I'm here on one myself." Aaron sat back in his chair. "Go on." He prompted. As Arnu launched into his speech about the consort, Alecto, and the coming election he could not help but notice Aaron seemed to know much of what he said already, from who he got the information Arnu could guess. Coming to the end of his words, Arnu changed the subject. "Aaron I would like your support for the Throne." That seemed to catch Aaron off guard. "You?" He asked. "I never would have guessed you even wanted it." Arnu laughed. "Sometimes you find a situation forced upon yourself, as you have found out. It has to be me Aaron. Imagine what could happen to the Imperium in the wrong hands." Aaron sighed. "You know I admire you Arnu, but I owe Hiram my loyalty. To betray him while he's incapacitated doesn't seem right." Arnu raised his head. "It is no betrayal my friend. Minras spoke to Faizal and offered him the position of Magistrate, to which he seemed receptive. Hiram would want his boy calling the family shots." Aaron put his hands together. "Seemed receptive?" He asked. "He's young but he's not stupid Aaron. He knows how to play the game and he knows better than to accept outright while his father lives." As they moved away from the present they began conversation of the future, wealth for the fringe worlds, justice for the Sordlanders, unity in the Imperium. After talks at length Arnu broke pace. "Do I have your support Aaron?"

The final stop on the first round of gaining support required all three Khor's. They had a meeting with Grand Patriarch Archos II. Arnu was tentative about appealing directly to the Church for support, but he had been convinced by his children, and in his estimation they were right. The Church was power in the galaxy as much as some liked to pretend it was not, and despite his apprehension he was confident his gaining of the favor of the Prince Bishop would help their case with the Grand Patriarch. At long they were bid into the audience chamber. The Grand Patriarch bid them welcome but wondered what brought near an entire Archducal family to his door. The three Khor's spoke of their journeys over the last several days although kept many of the more sensitive details to themselves. Archos spoke little, but finally gave a rise when Arnu asked for the support of the church. "Well as you know we do not usually make endorsements, even to those who have befriended the Prince Bishop but...I hear your space has been blessed by the gods with resources..."

"We're in good shape honey." Arnu said to his wife. "I think we can do this."
 
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St George

Minister
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A Little While Ago...

Selyf ap Tywysog grunted as the pirate raiders helped themselves to his ship's auxiliary systems. It was the usual fare. Lure whoever it was who was attacking freighters along Tyran's Arc into an engagement, here, in an asteroid field on the outskirts of a low population system like this. These systems mostly only existed to support Tyran's Arc, but Selyf yearned for more. He had come to lead House Penfro half a decade ago, after his father's death. An illness took him in the night, despite all the technology and healthcare the Margravate could offer. Marcher Lords weren't as rich as the Dukes, obviously, but they still had significant resources.

Selyf thought briefly of the colonisation program, seeking to settle and tame some of the wild planets at the edges of Imperium space. It wasn't going fantastically. People were too scared to move out there for a variety of reasons, and along with the increased piracy along Tyran's Arc itself, Selyf sometimes felt under siege within his House's space. Still, Penfro would endure. House Penfro always did.

"C'mon you bastards, follow me in," Selyf muttered. His ship had come to the aid of a stricken freighter, helping the ship escape and destroying one of the raiders. The remaining pirates, instead of scattering into the deep like they often did, attacked his ship, just as Selyf wanted. They often were content to just chase off these raiders, but he'd pulled some strings and today there was a cruiser of the Imperial Starfleet on hand to help with the ruse. Selyf's more mobile vessel could've easily sped through the field away from the pirates, but he needed to draw them in. That, unfortunately, meant taking some additional damage.

"I am so very glad those sensor scramblers are working." His second in command chuckled, and made a note to praise the ship's quartermaster. Technically illegal, Selyf hadn't deigned to inform anyone higher up in authority about his ships using them. What the likes of Starfleet and the administration didn't know, very much wouldn't hurt them.

"Almost clear of the field. Our friends should be just about her-" Selyf interrupted himself. "Are we in the right place?" The pirates' fire was getting more accurate - shields were falling, and several of the weapons systems were at breaking point.

"These are the coordinates we were given, Margrave."

"Well, where are they?" Communications went out as Selyf asked the question. Something was very wrong.

"I have no other ships on sensors... all I detect is a transwarp signature leading out of the system."

Selyf swore as the pirates descended on them once more. "Right, fire everything we've got at these bastards and try to make for the station. If we make it there, all of you have my gratitude, and much more booze than you were expecting too."

The fight that followed went on longer than the pirates would've liked, but ultimately Selyf ap Tywysog perished there, cursing them, and the Imperial Starfleet cruiser who had abandoned them.

Now, Sortof...

Owain ap Selyf rubbed his temples. He was far too young to be getting into this habit, but that's the only way he could concentrate his mind on current events. He very much would be anywhere but here, on his way to Taer Atlos, to give an opinion - not a vote - on who would further ruin the Imperium. There were too few good men and far too many pampered, preening idiots. Speaking of, his younger brother Arp sat down next to him. A scholar more than a fighter, trader or captain, Arp had taken Selyf's death by far the best out of all his siblings, having not spoken to their father for more than a year. If he had any regrets, he hadn't shared them with Owain, who now led House Penfro.

"So let me get this straight," Arp began, beginning to note down current events. "The Emperor dies. He hasn't left an heir, there's political manoeuvring to be done. At the same time, the entire Imperial Starfleet fucks off to Nalnut knows where leading to our father getting murdered by some pirates. And now we're off to go and... what? Fix things? Get revenge? Sell our lands and become wandering avengers, destroying pirates wherever we find them?"

Owain shrugged. "We were called. We server the Imperium, no matter how poorly run it has become." Owain sighed. "Arp, you more than anyone knows this snake nest we're walking into. What can I expect at Taer Altos?"

Arp was silent for a while, before speaking. "It would probably be more accurate to describe it as wolves amongst sheep, brother." Owain raised an eyebrow at him, but said nothing. "Oh you can be assured that each and every house will be scheming to advance their own causes, but most of them will be small things. The sheep doesn't concern itself with much more than sleeping, eating and eventually, fucking. Wolves on the other hand, are prideful things. They consider bigger matters. Territory, hierarchy. Watch out for those. Find the one that seems mostly likely to win, and align yourself with them."

Owain considered the words. "Discerning who is most likely to win requires knowing who the players are. Selyf didn't put a lot of stock in this kind of thing - I barely know our neighbours, like Ros or Coarin. Obviously Hiram is well known, but his house is a stranger to ours. We have been too inward looking, it seems."

Arp nodded. "That is true. I've never met the Archduke but he was cousin to the old Emperor. He has a strong claim, should he choose to pursue it. We'll have to see who else is pushing their own. And this Regnier - Aaron Rhodes - is an interesting choice also. He's a Marcher, just like us. He may be in need of our support."

Owain snorted. "At the risk of sounding like a sheep, rather than a wolf, I couldn't give less of a shit who becomes Emperor. I care about the borders and Tyran's Arc. We need ships and crews, and credits to pay for them. The House that offers us that and won't get us killed at the same time, they'll have my support."


"I hope you'll allow me to feel pessimistic about our chances of not getting killed," Arp replied, "but if it's ships, crews and credits you want, might I arrange an introduction with Arnu, the Archduke of House Khor?"
 

Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Estate Drof-Antier
Taer Atlos


The visit by Minras Khor had been a surprise to Faizal. He knew that a number of houses would be making their plays for the throne. Khor no less likely than the others. Though it did surprise him they were the first.

He had been thinking on what his own goal would be. There was no guarantee his father would recover. If he didn’t then he’d need to start making his own decisions. He had contemplated making his own move for the throne. But without his father, he felt the familial ties might not be enough to justify his own grab.

So he listened to the words Minras spoke, and weighed his options. House Wonju was a wildcard, possibly the reason his father wanted to support them. Archdukes from the fringe were less likely to play the core houses as well. But house Khor had connections, friends, and a will to grasp opportunity.

He carefully considered their offer, Magistrate of the Imperium. It was a generous offer. The military power behind the throne, independent of the Starfleet or Legions. But also close to the Emperor themselves. It was a good deal, and the fact that Minras informed them of what they knew about Rian, what his father had already suspected, showed they were willing to share intel. They could have held onto the information in exchange for support. They had given it freely instead.

“Alright,” Faizal spoke. “I will support House Khor’s bid for the throne. For now. I do not go against my father’s wishes lightly. But you have my support.
 
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Loz

TNPer
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All Hands II

Arnu sat at the table waiting for Margrave Owain ap Selyf. Arnu was surprised at being contacted by the Margrave's younger brother Arp, but the contact was certainly not unwelcomed. Arnu and his children had been on a flurry of activity while they made their play for the throne and to finally have a house reach out to the, rather than the other way around was a reassuring sign that their efforts were paying off. Margrave Owain arrived shortly after Arnu had finished musing on their efforts, the Margrave was not late by any means, instead Arnu was simply dreadfully early. He rose and shook hands with Owain as the two exchanged the normal pleasantries of introduction and greeting. Arnu gave his condolences for the late Margrave Selyf, Owain asked after Arnu's wife and kids and the like. They seemed to both be keeping the conversation deliberately light over their drinks and appetizer's, but the main course was due in short order. As the food arrived it was Owain to speak first. Rubbing his temples he said "I'm sure you know why I had this meeting arranged Archduke Khor, but I want it to be clear that I don't really care who sits on the throne. With that said however the security of my boarders and Tyran's arc relies in many ways on whomever is sitting in that chair." Arnu took a drink and nodded. "Go on." Owain took his hands off his temples and leaned in. "If you want the support of my house I need a guarantee of security, and I need it fast. Pirates ravage my space, and with the gods damn starfleet run off to fuck knows where we're having a bit of a problem keeping them at bay." Arnu put down his drink. "The Starfleet has not simply run off Owain. I'm afraid the situation is a bit more dire than a simple poisoning of an Emperor." Owain gave a snort. "Enlighten me please." He said. Arnu leaned in and lowered his voice. "Owain what I tell you does not leave this room." Owain nodded. The Margrave's hands returned to his temples as Arnu gave him the summarized version of his suspicions in regard to the death of the Emperor and the possibility of a rogue Fleet. "So you're saying we're fucked?" Owain eventually interrupted. "No, not yet. But if we don't move fast we might be." Arnu replied. "My children and I have been pulling support from every corner of the Imperium in an attempt to intercept and militant attempt for the throne. And we would value having the support of your house as well." Owain leaned back in the booth and let out a deep sigh. "And how will you secure my space?" "For now, I can provide you with ships from my own fleet, and from the fleets of those who have already given me their support. When the times comes for me to sit the throne, and the starfleet has been brought to heel the first priority will be the re-securing of all Imperial trade routes beginning with the Arc. After all my own space relies on the Arc as well." Owain nodded. "Let's talk this out a bit more." "Of course." Arnu replied.
 
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North Timistania

RolePlay Moderator
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Taer Altos, The Diet, Earlier

“I Moremi Oluremi Oragbade, Arch-Duchess of the Yoruba Reach and head of house Oragbade nominate Mira Vallen for the position of Regnier” Archduchess Oragbade said in a booming voice

Oranyan watched his mother's speech with growing curiosity, it all seemed so counterintuitive to be on the one hand supporting a candidate whilst on the other plotting to support another. Such were the ways of Yoruba politics though, once a side was picked the Oragbade would always follow through even if only symbolically.

Oranyan knew deep down that his mother had been correct when she declared Taer Altos a cesspit of corruption and intrigues, but that didn’t stop the young ducal heir being fascinated by it. There was something hypnotic about the many great nobles gathered here, they had a distant and unworldly quality that had no counterpart in the reach. Back home the ties of clan and family ensured that even the Archduchess herself was required to give respect to the poorest elder and to honour the ancient promises made to the people.

In the reach, social rituals played out daily, everything from greeting to food was done with ancient gestures and obscure prayers. For his part Oranyan found the capital refreshing, here there was no crowd of aunts and uncles endlessly giving lectures and criticisms, here the nobles ruled apart from their subjects. It wasn’t that Oranyan didn’t love his people, it was that he had never felt a greater sense of freedom then amidst the cold splendours of the throne world.



Taer Altos, Present day


I bow low before the lord of Holseta and the new Regnier of the imperium, a public display intended to dispel all doubts as to where the reaches allegiances lie. I had hoped to avoid seeing a good man be pulled into the intrigues of this vile world, but now I must attend to reality.

“Aaron Rhodes, Regnier of the Imperium, I pledge my houses fleets, armies and wealth to your cause, though I did not vote for you our empires hopes now rest upon your success,” I say in a low respectful tone

The time for division is over, something terrible is coming and if we do not stand together it will sweep us all aside like a killing wave.

In Orbit above Oduduwa, the stilts

It was an ancient construct, aged slabs of dirty plasteel suspended on long metal moorings above the glittering orange jewel that was Oduduwa. For generations, the stilts had served as a hub for traders, wanderers and vagabonds from across the Yoruba reach. At any one-time hundreds of vessels were docked in its stained corridors. The interior was a ramshackle expanse of improvised markets, ad hoc accommodations and all a manner of dens of vice catering to every whim a sentient creature could possess.

For all its ugliness there was a certain beauty to the battered old station, life here was vibrant and bound to the ebb and flow of interstellar traffic, whole generations had lived and died beneath the yellowing metal bulkheads of the stilts. For Olo Bandasi the stilts were an old friend, a watering hole where he and his crew could recuperate body and mind after long voyages in the stars, today's visit though was likely to be a short one. Momentous news was spreading across the reach and with-it opportunity.

In many ways' opportunity was the guiding ethos of the Oragbade people, Yoruba mariners had claimed the wealth of the reach by gambling their lives against the risks of the untamed region. In those early days when the reach had been a wild and unremarkable backwater, there had been next to no support from the imperial state, the Oragbade had instead relied on vast fleets of armed traders. Indeed, the now Archduchy still relied upon those same warrior merchants, the Starfleet might have been the empires shield, but the free armada was house Oragbade’s insurance policy.

The free armada had a well-deserved reputation for delivering, whether it was a trading run or a void assault the mariners kept their word. The mix of commerce and war had even taken on an amusing fusion, the victorious squadrons would often loot the defeated enemy for anything of value before selling it in the nearest scrap markets.

“First they will kill you, then they’ll sell ya” as the popular saying went

For Olo’s part, the opportunity to do both was an enticing one, he walked down cramped corridors thick with the stale reek of recycled air. He passed lines of joy girls with red braided hair who called out trying to get him to part with his credits, he ignored them and continued passing the greasy stink of the chop stands as they called out with offerings of grilled meat and rice. Finally, he came upon the dive bar that his bridge crew had wasted no time in making their second home.

The exterior was little more than a corrugated iron shack bolted to the side of a bulkhead, a scrap metal sign with half the lights flickering proclaimed the establishment as the “addicts rest” it reeked of smoke and palm wine. Inside the shack was illuminated only by several dim red lights that added a gloomy hue to the already decrepit establishment. An ancient man in silk robes strummed a Goje* with a metallic hand as he hummed a low and haunting tune about the struggles of the first settlers.

“Captain, come chop abeg!*” one of his crewmen called out enthusiastically

Olo pulled up a chair, his crew were in various states of relaxation ranging from mellow to outright intoxication. He took in the sight of a dozen men in a collection of stained overalls and traditional robes, half the crew were missing fingers and limbs and the other half were marked by tribal scars and snaking tattoos. The crew of the Oko* were some of the most grizzled and reliable mariners in the imperium proper, in no small part thanks to the hundreds of battles and trade runs they had all taken part in.

“We will all be rich enough to drink palm wine and eat the best cuts of meat soon, the Balogun* has sent out the call for vessels!” Olo said with a sly grin as he reached for a cup of palm wine and began to sip it slowly

“Ships? Where's he sending them?” Babatunde asked in a low and slightly slurred voice

“Taer Altos” Olo replied in a relaxed tone

He watched as the news sank in around the table, core world runs were not uncommon but a full military summons? That was unusual. If the Balogun wanted ships to muster for a journey to the capital, the implications promised to be grim. By now the new Regnier’s speech had spread across most of the Imperium, lord Rhodes demand that the Grand Admiral return the imperial fleet and make account for his absence becoming the talk on everyone's lips.

“Does this mean war capn?” another man with a prosthetic lower jaw asked in a buzzing voice

“maybe, maybe this is just posturing, either way, the commission is well compensated, and we could all do with a payday” Olo replied in a nonchalant voice

The facts were what they were, these days the trade routes were rife with competition, money no longer stretched as far as it used to, and operating costs seemed to go up year by year. Tithes to the imperial state and an endless number of tolls had made it harder to stay in the black. After years of doing moderately well working security details on the edge of the reach and delivering ag products to impatient farm holdings, Olo was ready to jump at the chance for a real payout.

“A toast! To the ancestors, the ship and the wealth their favour will bring!”

His crew roared their approval before gulping down their cups, the sweet nectar of the palm tree lulling them into a deep stupor, tomorrow would be hangovers and flight prep, but tonight the Oko would revel in their newfound opportunity and dream of the wealth it might bring.

*a traditional Yoruba instrument, similar to the violin
* “Come and eat please” In Reach Pidgin

*Oko means spear
* House Oragbades chief military leader
 
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Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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Faizul marched into the Regnier’s office, attempting to appear as lordly and confident as possible. He had received no update on his father’s condition. Though he had gotten no better, he also had gotten no worse. He said a quick prayer of thanks to Oridran, and then went to meet with Aaron Rhodes.

He had informed the Margrave that he was coming and what time. The Margrave was sitting at a comically large desk filled with numerous electronic devices set up around it. He must have had a great deal of paperwork to deal with and reports to read. Faizul didn’t doubt the few days following the emperor’s death had created an immeasurable backlog.

The Margrave greeted him warmly and offered him a seat. Faizul sat down, realizing he hadn’t had much time to rest the last few days. When Aaron asked after Hiram, Faizul answered succinctly. “His condition has not changed. All we can do is pray for the gods to favor him.”

He sat straight in the chair, his back not even touching the backrest. “I am here to once again pledge the military support of my House to defend the capital in the absence of the Starfleet. I also wish to reassure you that I have no intention of grabbing for the Celestial Throne during this crisis. Following the attack on my father, I think it is far more critical to secure the peace, than to make a play for power. On this, my father’s wisdom is also my own. If you order it, I can have my fleet here within two days. I only await your word.”

With that bit out of the way, Faizul took a deep breath and calmed himself for the next part. “My father explained to you his intentions to support House Wonju. This has left me in a bind, as I have no idea of his reasons for supporting a fringe house. Unfortunately, our House can no longer keep to that agreement. We are in need of better suited power to take the throne, one more familiar with core politics. I have agreed to support House Khor instead. I have come to ask for your support in this matter, at least until such a time as my father makes a recovery and retakes control of our house.”
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Office of the Regnier
Taer Atlos


Aaron looked around his office. It was grand, befitting his station. Far grander than his own in Kiel, on Holseta. His father would have hated the elegance. Aaron smirked at the thought. He was, unlike his father, far more worldly. The provincial styling of home was not one he chafed under, but he'd spent enough time in the heart of Imperial power in his youth to appreciate the finer things.
Still, grandeur did not define an office...the person who held it did.

"Regnier" he thought.
"The most powerful man, in all of civilization. In all of history. For this brief moment."
It was an intoxicating thought, but he chuckled as he took his seat.
"I'm not here to buy, just to rent for the weekend" smirked. So much to do though....

He passed through the various data screens demanding his attention. Letters wishing him well, requests to meet with him. He himself had made it clear he did not intent to stay Regnier for long, but already there were people lining up looking for favours. It made sense. No one knew who the next Emperor would be, but people knew who Aaron was. Best for as many people to try and get some favour tossed their way in this window before a new dynasty was installed.

There were only two people he wanted to talk to right now though... Archduchess Wonju Dae-Soon and Grand Legate Irena Zabi. The Archduchess to confer with her about what she and Hiram had spoken of and the Grand Legate to try and secure as many forces as possible for the Throne given Rian's abandonment. The fact that not one of the data screens showed a communique from the Grand Admiral was noted too.
"He's ignoring me" Aaron muttered.
"Good."

The Legate was necessary though. He himself had been a Legionnaire. He had good relations with them, he was one of them. If he could use that to secure Grand Legate Zabi's support in keeping the peace....suddenly a beep indicated an incoming message. From Holseta.
"Three people I need to talk to" he grumbled. It was his wife. He'd told her..."back before long." How would he explain this? Needless to say she took priority over both the Grand Legate and Archduchess.

"Hey dad!"

Aaron was shocked. It was Killian, his youngest, of seventeen.
"Hey" Aaron replied.
"I thought it was your mother."

"Oh she wants to talk" Killian smirked.
"She's mad."

"Yeah" Aaron replied, rubbing his temples.
"I thought she'd be. How's your brother?"

"Aiden is good, he can't believe you're Regnier!"

"Well that makes two of us" Aaron smirked.

"So what's it like?" Killian asked.

"I just got the job so I don't really know. I suppose I have a lot of meetings to get to though."

"Can we come join you in the Capital?"

Aaron laughed.
"No. House Rhodes needs a presence on Holseta. I won't be here long anyway."

"That's what you said when you left" Kylie said, entering the room behind Killian.
"Go on, I need to talk to your father."

"Ok mom, bye dad!" Killian waved as he headed out. Aaron leaned back in his chair.

"You know, love, I can explain..."

"Explain how 'I won't be in the Capital for long' means becoming Regnier?" Kylie asked.

"I had no idea. The first I heard about it was when Hiram nominated me before the Diet. I told him I'd have talked him out of it had he told me sooner."

"Well that's why I'm upset" Kylie replied.
"Don't think I don't believe in you, Aaron, but Hiram was nearly killed."

Aaron nodded grimly.
"Yes, I know."

"Think of what's at stake here, Aaron. Lordship. Over everything. If killing one Archduke is a price high enough for someone to pay for that, then what about one Margrave from the backwater?"

Aaron grunted and adjusted in his chair a bit.
"I'm a soldier. I've dealt with people trying to kill me all my life. I'm still here."

Kylie chuckled.
"Yes you are love. I'm merely saying that you should be careful. You're a target as long as you're in that chair, so find someone to be Emperor and get back here, pronto."

"Yes dear" he replied with a smile.
"I love you."

"I love you too" she answered, before the screen went blank. He sighed as he reached for a small box that had been brought down from his ship. He opened, taking out an elegant necklace gifted to him by Count Mekonis Vel of Andal-Vedar, Lord Chancellor of the Anduri.

"I'll have to meet with him too" he said as he looked the necklace over. He didn't fully understand the gesture of passing on a loved one's possessions, but he knew a gesture of good will when he saw one. And alien or no...support was support. He set the necklace down before he began to organize what needed doing.

Suddenly he heard him. Faizul. The boy was always a loud one, like a particularly proud rooster. Still, he never held anything against Hiram's son.
"Faizul" he said, bowing his head respectfully.

"I hope your father is doing well." He was going to suggest everyone would be better off if Hiram was up and about, but stopped himself. Faizul might take that the wrong way as he was now acting Archduke.

"His condition has not changed. All we can do is pray for the gods to favor him" he said as he took a seat. As straight as a plank of wood. Aaron smiled though, when Faizul announced that he planned on pledging his house's forces to the Celestial Throne.

"The word's given" Aaron replied.
"We have a rogue Starfleet somewhere out there. The more ships we have to defend Taer Atlos the better." He decided to keep his plans about the Sordlanders unspoken for now. He was unsure if Faizul shared his father's more accepting stance on them, and this was not the time to pick apart every potential decision. Besides, Faizul did quite a good job moving the subject matter along on his own.

"I have agreed to support House Khor instead. I have come to ask for your support in this matter, at least until such a time as my father makes a recovery and retakes control of our house."

Aaron's eyes opened wide just a bit, for a moment. He liked Hiram, and his house, a lot. They were still of the core though, of the highest strata of Imperial aristocracy. Where Aaron was from, if you pledged to someone you stuck by it. And Faizul was essentially saying that he intended to throw House Drof-Antier's behind House Khor...unless Hiram were to wake up. Then they'd support House Wonju again. Faizul likely didn't see this as a contradiction at all...it was just how things were done. Aaron found it an unpleasant aspect of the Imperial centre, but he also knew enough from his own time living among that group that questioning it got you nowhere.

"House Khor..." he repeated. Arnu Khor was, along with Hiram Drof-Antier and Moremi Oragbade, one of three Archdukes Aaron had positive opinions of. Even if his earlier conversation with Arnu had been...cryptic. Too cryptic...that happens, and now Drof-Antier is supporting them? After Hiram was sidelined? Aaron may have been from the backwater, but he also knew how the game was played. He couldn't help but wonder how this all tied together.

"Arnu Khor" he nodded.
"If your father had asked me to name three people who I would have supported for the Throne he would be one of them. Wonju Dae-Soon would not have been, but your father had his reasons. And knows this arena better than I do. Thankfully, for my own sense of honour, I haven't spoken to the Archduchess yet. I'm weary of going against your father's wishes, I won't lie. I've yet to lie to him yet, but..."
He looked around the office for a moment.

"I'm sure your father, when he returns from his coma, will be happy to see a secured Imperium. You have my support for House Khor, Faizul Drof-Antier."
 

Esplandia

Factbook Addict
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“You have my support for House Khor, Faizul Drof-Antier.”

Faizal rankled at the Margrave’s improper use of his House Name as if he was a common borderworlder. He was Faizal Mulhraad of House Drof-Antier! But he let it pass. Pride, his father had told him, is another tool to be used in house politics, and sparingly at that. It was certainly not to be wasted when it was more likely to divide.

He would hold his pride, as his father had taught him. A difficult task for the men of the Harraddyn. He stood up, giving the Margrave —nay, the Regnier—a formal half bow of respect. “Let us hope my father makes a speedy recovery. In the meantime I will prepare my fleet. If you are in need of anything else from House Drof-Antier, we are at your service, Regnier Rhodes.”


Hexactor 0017,
Unnamed System


The frigate dropped out of warp, the forward viewscreen once again filled with stars.

Adammar Taschal stood silently at the viewport, waiting for the bridge crew to scan the area. A distant blue star twinkled, the only thing visible to his eyes.

“First sweep complete,” a technician reported. “No planetary bodies to be found, neither gaseous nor rocky. There are multiple fields of dust particles and ice.”

Taschal pursed his lips, deep in thought. “Anywhere for a fleet to hide?” he asked.

The technician shook his head. Taschal hadn’t expected it to be easy. Damn Rian, but he certainly knew how to hide a fleet. He tapped his fingers together, pondering their next move. This system was their only lead and he wasn’t going to give up so easily.

“Move us deeper into the system,” he ordered. “Full sensor sweeps. I want to know every celestial body and its orbit within the quadrant. And if there's anyone out their passively listening to our scans, maybe they’ll do us a favor and come out and investigate.”


Imperial Command Carrier Hammerhead
At Warp


Rian sat at his desk. He had a lot to ponder. The assassination attempt against Hiram has dampened his fire for revenge. But it had not put it out. Even if Hiram died before retribution could be exacted, Rian had every intention of tearing House Drof-Antier apart down to the last bit.

Not just them though. Every Imperial House would feel his wrath. If any of the pompous great houses or the sycophant lesser ones dared stand against him he would bring them to dust. It was time the corrupt, scheming nobility be brought to heel.

Yet he was no fool. The Starfleet was mighty, the greatest force in the galaxy, but it could not stand against the unified might of the imperial houses.

No, if he intended to take the Celestial Throne for himself, he’d need more than just warships. Thankfully the empire held its own secrets, known only to the emperor and his most trusted advisors. Rian knew most these secrets. He would wield all of them if it was necessary to bring peace and stability back to the Imperium.

He called up the bridge. “Commander Vis,” he said when his second-in-command answered. “We will be changing course. Set our destination coordinates to Salicor. We’ll be bringing in the big guns.”
 

Kyle

Keep pounding.
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ᛊᚠᚡᛁᛚᛏᚢ ᚦᚢ ᚠᚱᚨᚱᛁᚦ, ᚦᚨᚢᚿᛞᛁᚱᛈᚢ ᚦᚢ ᛋᛏᚱᚨᚱᚾᚦ.
Efviltu þu fráriþ, þáundirpu þu stráríþ.
If you want peace, prepare for war.

Somewhere around Taer Atlos

The masses of Sordic mercenaries were orbiting around Taer Atlos, its system, and the surrounding space. Discreetly, of course, since it still wasn’t public that the Sordics were now in the centre of the Imperium. Passersby might notice a ship or two, but not an entire congregating fleet. They were still waiting for orders.

The commanders of the Sordic mercenaries were in the war room with Brodie Fisher, head of the House Rhodes’ security forces. The House Rhodes had contracted much of the Sordic mercenary fleet for this. The leaders of the mercenary forces listened as Brodie gave them instructions over a holographic map of Taer Atlos and its surrounding systems. The area around the system was divided into defence sectors. Taer Atlos is the central sector. Six crucial sectors surrounding Taer Atlos, plus four peripheral sectors. Brodie gave them their assignments, taking into account the mercenary sizes. Until the nobles committed forces, this was the most he would have.

Hlynur 31629481 of the White Company for the central sector.
Thorbjörn 44476336 of the Þýran Sacred Band and Kjallakur 31990560 of the Interstellar Knights for Crucial Sector 1.
Ragnar 12056339 of the Black Wolves Band and Brynheiður 81560065 of the Skepn Scientific Corporation for Crucial Sector 2.
Sigbjörn 23661500 of the Troll Guard and Þröstur 30951162 of the Victual Brothers for Crucial Sector 3.
Finngeir 50652663 of the Flayers and Eyleifur 77165903 of the Fellowship of the Star for Crucial Sector 4.
Baldr 00351509 of the BattleTech Group and Greipur 30616223 of the Free Guild of Adventurers for Crucial Sector 5.
Gefjun 60605607 of the Sisterhood and Arnbjörn 00521856 of the Starway Guardians for Crucial Sector 6.
Jökull 10774150 of the Force Protection and Dýrmundur 61622190 of the Dragon Company for Peripheral Sector 7.
Leiknir 45480015 of the Red Company and Baldvin 80618116 of the Company of the Rose for Peripheral Sector 8.
Olgeir 32995708 of the Company of the Planets and Axel 99031653 of the Griffin Band for Peripheral Sector 9.
Hafþór 21082256 of the WarTech Group and Gyrð 53518652 of the Peacemakers for Peripheral Sector 10.

So many names, so many mercenaries. Brodie hoped this was enough.
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Býkonsviði
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Aaron nodded as Faizal bowed. Someone from a higher house-from the core no less- bowing to him would have felt weird had he not been a former Legionnaire.

"Here's hoping what we've amassed will be enough."

Faizal hadn't even been gone for a minute before another incoming message lit up his desk.
"The Sordics are here..." he smiled.
"Perfect."




Diet Galactica,
Taer Atlos


"Imperial Citizens" Aaron began as he addressed the assembly.
"There are two things of note that you all must be informed of. The first is a matter of collective security. Grand Admiral Rian has refused to return the Imperial Starfleet to the capital. He is henceforth to be considered a traitor and outlaw in rebellion against the Celestial Throne..." he let the words sink in before he continued.

"To anyone serving under the Grand Admiral...your oath was not an officer in the Imperial Starfleet. Nor was it to any one man. It was to the Celestial Throne. The Imperium. As Regnier, duly elected by the law of the Imperium, that authority is mine until an Emperor is chosen. I urge all personnel of the Imperial Starfleet to resist any unlawful orders."

"It is because of the Grand Admiral's traitorous actions that I have assembled the makings of a fleet to both defend the Celestial Throne and to wrestle the Imperial Starfleet away from insurrectionists. House Drof-Antier has pledged their fleet to such a cause. They will be joined by Sordic forces, loyal to House Rhodes, while the fleets charged with the defence of Holseta and the Sordlands remain stationed on the frontier, loyal to their duties. Amassing such fleets is worrying, I know, but I have no choice but to rally these forces to the Throne. I put out the call to any house loyal to the Imperium, to send your fleets here so that we may resist the designs of traitors who would wield the Starfleet as a club in their efforts to establish tyranny."

Aaron looked around the chamber before getting to the heart of the matter.
"These forces will defend the capital as we engage in our primary duty. I am hereby calling all Archdukes to convene. The time is now, to select a new Emperor, and a new dynasty to sit upon the Celestial Throne. The future is staring at us, bleak, harsh, and uncaring. Only by acting now, and returning stability to the Throne, can we see it through, together."
 

Holdac

Citizen
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Taor Atlos

Classic Galactic elections in play; squabbling delegates, disputes over the most trivial of issues and a succession crisis every time the throne became open again. Aaron had recently given his speech urging the galaxy to decide a new Emperor to lead the Imperium. An antiquated system in his opinion, however At would have no choice but to abide by the rules of this election. The Archduke let out a yawn of boredom, throwing aside a tattered letter from Antica asking for his vote. Like the hundred other letters from nobility across the galaxy. The House didn't have interest in this dispute of the next Emperor, comfortable in its region of space. It was all a headache to him. But Antica was a long-time ally of At. Maybe he could capitalize on this. The Council of Five has already made clear their stance. As long as trade went on through Aflovind, the Syndicate will flourish on with the backing of House Eburtkol. Crime is a less-than-desirable enterprise, controlled by the Syndicate where he had come from; an enterprise which the Archduke profited off. If the next Emperor brought down their wraith upon the Archduke, the House would suffer immensely, though the Syndicate would not. And as long as the Syndicate stands, the Council of Five remains stable and by that, the House is bound.

"Reymar, friend. Replay the Kingpin's message, please?" At looked over to his advisor, gesturing at a projector in the chamber with his bony finger. Reymar nodded, turning it on and slowly closing the shutters blinds with the wave of his hand. The Kingpin was a terrifying figure, perhaps the true leader of Aflovind where the Archduke was a mere marioanette to the overarching interests of the vast criminal underworld which lived beyond the House's grasp, preying on the wealth of Eburtkol like a leech slowly draining one of blood.

"Archduke. The Council has made a decision regarding your trip to the capital. I've decided, as Kingpin, that it is in the Syndicate's best interest that we do not involve ourselves with silly intergalactic politics. After all, there is no reason for an underworld organization to be involved with your barbaric debates." It started to cut off, breaking into static. "Archduke. The Council has made a decis— "

The Kingpin's sly smile at the end would remain branded into the Archduke's mind as the video played over and over again. He slid to the edge of his seat. "Reymar, who do you think is best to support?"

"Your Grace, you're referring to the elections?"

"Of course, yes." The Archduke knew Reymar was an agent of the Syndicate too, sent to merely spy on his activities. It would only be time before he slipped a pill into At's drink or put a bomb in his spaceship.

"I am a strategist, with all due respect, Your Grace. I would believe that this is far out of my area of expertise." Reymar responded with a look of confusion.

"Reymar, please. Help me choose. You can't expect me to make this important decision on a whim, can you?"

"Alright. I'll shoot. Livia? Is that not what Antica had in mind for her letter to you?"

"You've read it?" The Archduke chuckled, a hint of nervousness in his laughter. He wasn't sure how much more Reymar knew, but the Archduke knew that this man could not be trusted. Or perhaps it was just paranoia besting him.

"I guessed—saw the name on the floor." Reymar pointed at the stamped letter on the carpet, shrugging at the Archduke.

"House Livia it is. I'll deliver this to the Diet Galactica."
 
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Slon

Registered
Taer Atlos,
Before Voting For Emperor

Sulla sat on his chair with Pelagius in his villa overlooking the many ships in the abyss below in their lanes. Millions of people going to work so they could provide for their families, millions of people fighting so they could make ends meet and what did the nobility do for them? Nothing. Instead Taer Atlos served as a den of corruption and a place where serpents could convene to make their next move. Their emperor lay dead at the hands of an assassin, and most recently Hiram had been attacked in a bombing. There was no honor here.

Sulla did not fear for his life though. Death did not scare him anymore. He’d almost made the final sacrifice in more situations than he could count and if he were to fall to a weak willed and cowardice assassination attempt, so be it. However when you’re fighting in a den of serpents, it makes more sense to become one yourself than risk contracting the venom.

As he discussed potential alliances with the different houses with his brother, one of House Livia’s soldiers approached them.

“Archduchess Antica has arrived, your highness.”

Sulla smiled. “Good bring her in.”

The doors to the chamber were pulled open to reveal Archduchess Antica. Flanked by a singular soldier, Antica quickly waved him off, coming to ease at the sight of the villa. It was apparent the knight in ebony armor went off begrudgingly, but Antica insisted by walking deeper into the room. The doors closed shut behind her.

Antica absorbed the lavishness of the hold and the Pelclaren architecture it was inspired from. They might have been a warrior culture but House Livia never failed to impress in their building. A series of statues and sculptures were logged in chronological order depicting the detailed history of House Livia. Battles from the second solar age, to the founding of the imperium. Bloody wars and counterfeit monarchs galore. Finally, Antica turned to the most recent statue, a squandering dove. Representative of an era of increasing pacifism that had dawned the Imperium. It was an upheaval to the militant ways of an encaptivating history, and an embarrassment to many houses, including House Livia.

Antica strayed over to the Archduke and the table at which he sat. She took her own seat and adorned an admirable smile, “it’s a lovely place Sulla, I see your tastes have not worsened since we last met.” She took a final peak at the hall, “to what do I owe the invitation?”

He was flattered that she had paid attention to the extravagant Pelclaren art that he had imported from Solios. Pelclaren tradition dictated that the warriors of its society should always remember their people and their culture and to stay true to it, and that was entirely what Sulla had attempted to do. His people were proud, fierce, and had the honor of a thousand emperors that had sat on the throne.

“Pelagius, could you leave us please?”

“Of course” Pelagius said as he stood up, bowed to both of them, and left the balcony.

Sulla turned back to Antica and smiled. “I am honored that you agreed to meet me here. I wasn’t that sure that you would with all of the intrigue in the shadows occurring and the recent attempt on Hiram’s life. But I am very grateful that you’re here.”

He grabbed the Pelclaren Brandy off of the table and poured her glass before he poured himself one, a sign of friendship and honor on Solios, and in House Livia. “I know you’re a very busy woman and I don’t intend to waste your time here.” He took a drink before continuing. “I intend to become the next emperor. I’m attempting to gather support from the rest of the Archdukes and other houses and I would specifically like your’s. I know it has been a long time since we’ve last spoken but I am hopeful that you will consider voting for me.” He took another drink, this time a little more than the last, “And… I am willing to offer something as well, I think that’s only fair. As I’m sure you know, my wife was taken from me some time ago from a mysterious illness, I am unwed. In order to secure your support I would like to marry from House Arcdothien and my bride will serve alongside me as Empress. What do you say? Are you intrigued?”

Antica felt the coldness dim around her icy heart, beaming at the opportunity to score an impressionable seat next to the throne, she knew this meeting would be worthwhile. But, she did not let the emotions dominate her, instead vying for a sip of the Pelclaren Brandy―which might have been telling enough.

She brought the glass down from her lips and stirred the liquid inside it. While still looking down at the glass she replied, “and you’re just so willing to let another House infiltrate your future government?”

“It’s not like I could turn down such an open opportunity, but confusing you with a bride that won’t just confuse your mind but your pants,”—Antica smirked—“I thought you wanted to escape the political norms of the centre, not join them. It is the good Emperors that run this place no longer. Only corruption survives here,” she gestured to the open view of the city lights below. “Our executive powers have failed us. By Oridran, we don’t even know where the imperial starfleet is anymore. I understand your militant nature, but how can I trust you aren’t another Shiram?”

He laughed not only at Antica’s joke but at her questioning of him being “another Shiram.”

“How can you trust that I won’t be ‘another Shiram?’ Shiram was weak and led us into an era of pacifism that had no place in the Empire. Peace has cost us our strength. Victory has made us weak. Corruption and deception have rendered us incapable. My past alone should answer any questions you have regarding me imitating the Morghanos of the past. We will expand the Empire’s borders into the unknown territories. I have traversed there and seen the opportunity is ripe for the taking. We will usher in a new age. We’re the only ones with the fucking guts to revolutionize, would you like to be apart of that? And maybe my new bride to be, could help” he said with a wild grin, “if I’m not too confused of course.”

Antica laughed at Sulla’s ourbust. She could not recall why they hadn’t met up in years past, she was enjoying herself, talking about politics no less. She took another swig of her drink and stole Sulla’s attention.

“It escapes me why we ever stopped communicating, it seems this Diet is bringing all our old friends back together,” she flashed a sterling smile, “of course it took Shiram’s death to see us reunited. But, I wholeheartedly support the militarism of your hypothetical rule. I tire of the shitter the Senate has left us i,.” they shared a collective laugh. The image of the legislation leaving the Imperium in deep shit was all too resonant, which made them laugh even harder.

“Jokes aside,” Antica loosed one last fit, “my bloodline is… large, to put simply. Is there someone in particular that piqued your interests to play the role of bride?”

Sulla hadn’t thought of it too deeply. On one hand, he knew they had to have some significant title—but it wasn’t like Antica wouldn’t find someone of importance. On the other, what if he didn’t like her? He had no ideas who Antica intended to set him up with, she had only mentioned him being confused, not if he knew he was being hurt. Sulla scolded himself for letting his heart have a hand on the wheel, and came to an easy conclusion. “Why not you?” he dared.

Antica went as still as the ice on her homeworld, only moving to set her glass down on the table. Sulla could count on the seconds to determine the thoughts exploding in her head, but Antica did not let on as easily. She eventually turned to him, not smiling this time, with a plain, “No, it can’t be me… ”

“That’s not an answer—”

“Sure it is,” Antica countered. “I will not sell myself or my body to the throne. Not yet, not now. Not when Arcdothiens like too many in this galactic web have too long suffered from ‘his majesty’. I don’t just mean Shiram.”

Sulla nodded. He knew the feeling all too well, he was sure everyone did. The throne had debts to everybody and Antica was just one of them.

“Besides,” Antica said, relaxing, “there are better candidates. I have multiple sisters and cousins, even some old enough for you.”

Sulla huffed at the low blow, but Antica carried on, “They’re complete of titles and have served on the Arcdothien Senate, some for decades now. Besides governing their own homeworlds. They are loyal, undyingly loyal. But at the end of the day, their allegiance lies with me.”

“And you’re right to question why I would not give myself. Sulla, the timing isn’t right. Before politics we were on the battlefield, I’ve served as the commander and the warrior. Strategy is the only path to peace of our time. And strategically, I should not take your hand beside the celestial throne, not now.”

Sulla sat there in a state of amusement. She wasn’t willing to sell herself out but that of another member of her family. If it wasn’t for the Pelclaren Code of Honor then he would contemplate the same thing in most decisions but he respected her playing the game. He took another swig of his drink.

“You’re right. Strategy is the only path forward now and House Livia time and time again has proven to understand this. So, what do you say, do I have your support?”

“Yes, Sulla of House Livia, you have my support.”

(Collaboration Post With @Nogori )
 
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