Phoenix Rising (Tapani Sector)

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Phoenix Rising (Tapani Sector)

Post by Leo Godric » 2011-05-05 02:29

Part 1: The Status Quo

A beam of light shone through a window to splash upon cold stone. Save for this ray of light, all was darkness, but from the darkness... came a whispered voice.

"Once this House was great. There was a time when we strutted haughtily among the lords, thinking ourselves gods. Those passing would see our blue livery and our proud bearing and think 'There goes a Pelagian'. But now are we layed low? Are not our once beauteous waters clouded with the debris of starships, fallen from the heavens? Our nobles have became fearful and paranoid. The Mecetti instigated this heinous desecration of our waters and slaughter of our people. It is they who are the very root cause of all our suffering. But they know not our plans," the disembodied voice paused and a sigh was heard.

"For have we not layed our preparations carefully? Our ships lie in the darkness of orbit, like hidden titans. Their weapons, once of simple nature, have power the Mecetti know not. Barnaba, and Melantha... we have long coaxed them, have we and Cadriaan. Now, they seem to tip toward our side. Does the Mecetti, with their weaving network of spies like the careful spider's web, know any of this? No, they know nothing. At last, after nigh twenty-six years of careful planning shall I have them. They are as in the dark as I am now, but they know it not."

A figure egressed from the shadows. The footsteps were slow, almost hesitant to come into the light. "Shall we then illuminate their darkness, like a phoenix from the ashes?"

The speaker was a man. His dark hair lay long, but neat and lined with grey. His skin had that milky-white complexion of most Pelagian aristocracy. Dark, piercing eyes stared from beneath hooded brows. The man's bearing was a proud and strong, reminiscent of the days before the fall. His mouth had lines born of grief, age, and laughs. He peered out through the window to glimpse the Pelagian sea, a vast body of water that covered nearly all of the globe. The sea, once contaminated, now sparkled brilliantly. The Phoenix was rising.

Stark clicking footsteps sounded as another figure materialized from the darkness of the High Lord's chambers.

"What is it, Diaktoros?"

"High Lord Paddox, the Federation Diplomat is here."

Theux Paddox, High Lord of House Pelagia and ruler of Pelagon let his disdain show through his voice, "At last, I thought he would never arrive, but these imperialists are always strict in adherence to the rules... if they be their own."

"My lord?"

Theux sighed, "I will see him."

"I will inform the Diplomat at once, sire."

Fifteen minutes later, the High Lord emerged into the formal meeting room. His attire was at once plain and majestic. The material was a light blue, with thin silver, swirling lines. It was not overly gaudy, but carried a sense of royalty with it. This defined Theux. He connected with the peasants, but seemed even higher than the other nobles. It was that simple elegance that won so many over.

Already sitting down, the Mrlssi Diplomat looked round as Theux entered. It clucked its beak in token of greeting. "I'm extremely greatful that you have granted me an audience, High Lord. I am Sasevi Saiyan"

Waving a hand in dismissal, Theux dropped gracefully into a seat. "'Twas nothing, Diplomat Saiyan, but let's put aside formalities. We both know why you're here and I will tell you once again, that House Pelagia shall not open the Shapani lane to the Mecetti alliance."

"Ah, I see you feel strongly on this issue. That's for the better, as the Federation does too. The rest of the Tapani sector needs the supplies, the rest of the Federation needs supplies. I'm afraid this might not be an option for you." The Mrlssi clucked its beak sharply.

Theux smiled at the Imperialist diplomat and folded his hands neatly. "The Federation is far too focused on other matters for you to seriously consider forcing us to comply with your demands. You know this as well as I. There is only one way that we will consider opening up the Shapani bypass. And that is if all Imperial ships are removed from this province. We feel... uncomfortable with this display of Imperialistic hegemon. In return, the Shapani Bypass will be reopened."

The beady eyes of Sasevi Saiyan peered at Theux, as the Mrlssi cocked his head. "I will relay your proposition my superiors. Let us hope the response is a favorable one."

"Indeed," muttered the High Lord coldly.

Upon a balcony stood an older man clad in black. His eyes contained some curious emotion as he gazed upon the festivities below. Today was a House celebration. It was on this day that Verinia and Trad Paddox had been found in stasis, onboard the Regal Destiny. There was dancing and songs and all sorts of entertainment and food. Trad could be seen in the company of ten ladies at a time as he regaled the discovery and made jokes and laughed.

The man in black did not laugh. He surveyed the gay scene quite coldly. "Oh what merry mirth do these fools in high positions placed enjoy," whispered the man. "Now is the long summer of their happiness as they dance and love and drink. What infinite heart's ease is theirs who do these idle things enjoy. And it is all for ceremony. Oh heartless ceremony. For celebration of him do they dance. Oh yes, my distant cousin, however far below thee I may be I am still to thy blood related..." the dark eyes were fixed upon Trad. "The dreadful ships of war sit in their orbits, silent. Instead of the wail of sirens, we hear the music of the lute." The man put out both hands and gripped the railing until his knuckles turned white.

When he spoke again, his voice was changed to harsh tones. "But..... I.... who was once so lowly born as a son to a Knight and could not enjoy these royal meetings. I, who sat on the lowest level of our proud, proud nobility, most rudely worked to build a fortune. I that am stuck in my position; cheated of any higher rank by my base birth. Mundane, obscure, placed into the lowest of the highest. And that so obsequiously that these lords laugh at me as I pass by them. Why I have no part in these 'blessed' times of peace. If not to glimpse upon what might have been mine save for the hard condition of fate and lament my very birth." A deep shudder ran through the man in black.

"Therefore, since I cannot be noble by being noble, other means shall be sought for to achieve the end," he paused. "Plans are in motion that shall change the face of this game called politics!" The man hissed with vehemence. "So dance while you can, oh cousin of mine. But in the approaching time of war, look well on that position of thine... less it slip from thy grasp. But hush, someone approaches."

Sasevi Saiyan, the Mrlssi Federation Diplomat made an entrance on the balcony to stand beside the man in black. "Wonderful isn't it?"

"Oh yes," croaked the man. "But to which does he refer, the celebration... or Pelagon?"

"You don't look well, Godric. I can't have my Aide unwell, especially at this time when I need him most," clucked Sasevi.

"Of course. I'm perfectly fine, Monsieur Saiyan."

"Good. It may just be me, but I think that High Lord Paddox is planning something big."

"More than you could imagine," thought Leo Godric. "The High Lord is usually quite elusive. We Pelagians never tell a lie, but you have to be careful what you ask if you want to get the answer you seek."

"Hmm, yes. I seem to have learned that," clucked Saiyan dolefully. "But I still seem to sense something coming. Change is coming for the Tapani Sector, mark my words."

Leo gazed out over the crowds of aristocracy and at a tapestry. Ashes lay scattered at the bottom and a bright yellow sun lay in the background. But emerging from the ashes, was a royal blue phoenix. "Perhaps."
Last edited by Leo Godric on 2012-08-06 00:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phoenix Rising (Tapani Sector)

Post by Leo Godric » 2011-05-07 01:12

"We were fortunate that the Imperials agreed to our demands," muttered a tall man whose hair was grey with a single strip of white. A single, peculiar strip of white amongst the grey was the only sign of how old he really was. His face, though old, still retained signs of vibrant life and his eyes were full of quick vitality as they darted between Trad and Theux Paddox.

A bark of laughter started from Trad, “Baron, the Imperials are too focused on fighting the New Republic to give much thought to us. They were probably glad for the chance to remove their ships with some semblance of an excuse.”

“‘Tis true. They have also withdrawn their security forces in Calipsa and Cadriaan. High Lord, if we are to strike... now would be the time.”

Theux Paddox nodded once, his gaze was fixed on the ground. “We have waited long for this enterprise to be put into action. We must wait longer yet. The Great Council is gathering. There, we will trap the Lords of House Calipsa. The withdrawal of Imperial forces does not give us carte blanche to retake what is ours. Not yet. The approval of a majority of the Noble Houses must be sought. Supporting Calipsa are Houses Reena and Mecetti. Together, the three form a bond we cannot alone break... not even with our steadfast allies of Cadriaan. No. The support of Barnaba and Melantha must be sought. With them on our side, we will have enough votes that Calipsa will be forced to meet our demand of recompense for their faults."

The grey haired Baron Lyceus fixed an inquiring eye on Theux, "And what will those demands be, High Lord?"

At this, Theux looked up. A slow smile crept its way across his face. "Why, we will simply ask for what is ours. Netolio."

"Just Netolio?" asked Trad sharply. "Why not the seven other systems? They, as well as Netolio, rightfully belong to us!"

"Because, brother, they will never give up a single planet. They are too stupid and stubborn to realize the mistake they will be making. Our fall from grace has made us learn the wisdom of concession, while we bide time to rise again. The Calipsans are not so. Their rise in power now rivals even the Mecetti. They wear the laurels of their long past victories proudly, while the head beneath grows stupid, and the body fat. Their refusal will be our permission."

Trad's eyes sparked with comprehension, but Lyceus' face was still grim. "Will Melantha and Barnaba join us in this vote?"

""Lady Arabella is headstrong, but her virtuous mind will lead her to see that this is the only way to take true action against the evil of the Mecetti’s coalition. But Lord Jaset is another matter. He is strongly Imperial and is untrustworthy. Just ask any of those women he pursued. Over thirty children out of wedlock. That should say something to his ability to be trusted."

Lyceus nodded in understanding, while Trad burst out laughing.

"Melantha's High Lord, a whorehound? Ha!"

"Brother... do not speak like that of Lord Jaset to anyone else but ourselves. His influence stretches farther than the borders of his province. Much harm could he do us if he thought one of us had insulted his honor. We need his vote. Do you understand?" questioned the High Lord sternly.

Trad sighed, "Of course, High Lord. As you wish." But the twinkle of mischievousness had not left his eye.

"Now, where is Diaktoros? The Regal Destiny had best be ready," said Theux irritably as he rose from his chair and left the room to summon his chief attendant. At the mention of the Regal Destiny Trad's face darkened.

"I won't go on that ship," he muttered to himself.

Lyceus' quick eye missed nothing. "The ship displeases you my Lord?" he asked.

"It is none of thy business, cousin!" spat the haughty younger Paddox, who with an air of offended pride rose and left as well, leaving Lyceus all alone.

The grey haired Baron closed his eyes and drank in the silence. "Oh, how I hope these Paddox's will make this house great once more. But I fear the young too brash and the elder too sly. One might have my head off, while the other would stick a knife in my back if it pleased him. Though, they are strong. How now though, who comes hither?" whispered Lyceus to himself.

Into the room stepped the black-clad figure of Leo Godric, a Baron of Pelagia and Federation Aide, as well as the Federation Diplomat Sasevi Saiyan. His face, in contrast to those of the Paddox's, was a ghostly white. He had dark, wavy hair that was cut short. No hint of grey showed despite his age. His features were, as ever, grim. Lyceus stood.

"Cousin," said Leo with a slight smile.

Lyceus smiled back, "Leo!"

"I just saw the Lords Paddox leaving. Are you to leave for the Great Council soon?"

"Yes, yes," said Lyceus as he settled back into his chair. The old Baron occupied a high seat in the Great Council. One does not live as long as he had without gaining some few positions of power.

"I assume that's where we finally make our play for power," said Leo.

Surprised, Lyceus raised his eyebrows. "And why would you think that?"

Leo gave a cold chuckle. "Cousin, I was in the Defense Force. I know that we are building up our fleet. Not only that, but I know that we have been doing it through House Cadriaan so that the Mecetti Coalition wouldn't receive word through their spy network."

"My, my. You are well informed," muttered the Baron.

Leo smirked "You don't do ten years of training with Cadriaan pilots without making a few friends. So what will happen at the Great Council?"

"Why don't you ask the High Lord?" replied Lyceus. "By the way, would you care for some refreshments. I can have the servants bring them right away."

"Thank you for your hospitality, Uncle, but I am perfectly fine. You know as well as I do that a simple knight like myself goes unnoticed in our circle of nobles."

"True, true." Lyceus was silent for a moment. Leo was a familiar at his estate, but he had recently engaged as an Aide to one of the Mrlssi. A Federation Diplomat, who was here on Pelagia at the moment. The Mrlssi had been the one responsible for mutual agreement between the Federation and House Pelagia, which led to the reopening of the Shapani Bypass and the removal of Federation ships from their province. Lyceus liked his nephew, but he wasn't sure that he could trust him. His rumored relationship with the Mrlssi was one of good friendship. None of the nobles on Pelagon trusted the Mrlssi much. Though, they really didn't trust any aliens that much, save for the Herglic. In recent years the Herglic Trade Empire had made an excellent deal with the Pelagians. In return for free travel in the Shapani Bypass the Trade Empire did cleanup work on Pelagon, restoring it to its former beauty. But the Mrlssi... they were part of the Freeworlds League, a dangerous opposition to all the Noble Houses, and a growing threat.

Was his cousin the same man who had grown up on Pelagon? Or did his allegiances now lie with the Federation? Lyceus squinted at Leo. "What do you think will happen at the Great Council?"

Godric's reply was quick, as if he had already thought it through before, "I think High Lord Paddox will force the Calipsans into some concession of our former territory. I also know that Lord Jaset will never support such a move."

Lyceus raised his eyebrows. At that moment, Theux returned. "Diaktoros says that the preparations are finished, we can board when ready." He stopped in the doorway to the room and frowned at Leo.

"High Lord, this is my cousin, Baron Godric."

Godric bowed to the High Lord.

"Hmm, well any cousin of my noble cousin is a friend of mine," Theux smiled at Godric.

As Godric and Paddox resumed their seats, Lyceus spoke, "My Lord, Leo has just been relating to me some fanciful ideas. He seems to think that we will be making a power play at the Great Council and that for some reason, Bal Jaset will not approve."

Theux looked sharply at Leo, "Do you now?"

"Yes, High Lord."

"Explain."

"Lord Jaset sees everything from how it affects his relationship with the Federation. If he thought that we were moving in a fashion that the Federation wouldn't approve of, or could potentially backfire, he wouldn't take part in it until he has seen the reaction of the Federation to it. Any move against the Calipsans he would see as dangerous and back out of, regardless of previous agreements."

Theux peered cautiously at Brian. "How did you discover this?"

"I am an aide to Federation diplomat Sasevi Saiyan and we were recently in talks with the Melanthans about their hostile attitude towards the Freeworlds. But-" said Leo, seeing the look of anger come into Theux's eyes. "I assure you that I am loyal only to this House."

The High Lord was silent for several moments as he stared at Leo. "Very well... Will you be at the Great Council?"

"Yes, I plan on attending."

"Well then, we will see if these predictions of yours play out. But I will continue with whatever plans I may or may not have had regardless. Thank you, Sir Godric..."

Glancing between the Baron and the High Lord, Godric saw that he was dismissed. He rose and left. Leo carefully controlled his anger until he had left the Baron's estate. An open bridge led to a landing platform where his ship was docked. The wind from the nearby ocean swept over Leo, whipping his clothes and hair about him. Leo's anger finally boiled over.

"Curse them! Do they see the danger which rises before them and yet spurn my advice? Because I am an aide to an Imperial! Curse them! Let them see that my predictions prove true. Oh, how they will come weeping to me when they see I was right. Thrice cursed Paddoxs!" Leo drew his lightfoil from his belt and thrust it into one of the many trees that had been planted for scenery. It burned through the tree like it was wax. Leo deactivated it. Smoke rose from where he had pierced it. He drew in a deep breath. "I must calm myself. I cannot come bursting into flames at every insult. I must bear it. For in time, I will receive payment for their spurning looks!"

Leo continued until he had reached the diplomatic vessel, where Sasevi was waiting. He climbed aboard. Sasevi, seeing how unstable his Aide was, made no comment. He gave orders to the pilot to depart for Procopia. Within moments the diplomatic courier Arbiter rose from the landing pad and disappeared into the skies.
Last edited by Leo Godric on 2012-08-06 00:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phoenix Rising (Tapani Sector)

Post by Leo Godric » 2011-05-11 22:07

The brilliant city of Estalle lay beneath a pristine, cerulean sky. The harsh glare of the sun reflected off the azure sea around the island, making it glitter. Rising from the island were great monoliths of structural technology. They to reflected the light of the great, glowing yellow disk. The windows of the towers sparkled and the city was the very essence of beauty. Those in approaching shuttles gaped in awe. Whether it was your first visit to Procopia's capital or your twentieth, it never failed to have a grandiose effect on visitors.

Unless you were someone like Brian Godric. When he looked upon the finest city in Tapani, all he saw was the wealth of it all. When he saw the sparkling waters, he thought of Pelagia's.... so recently polluted. The spiring towers recalled the burning of Pelagon's. The only beauty he saw on Procopia was that of a place so rich it would provide much in the way of recompense. And what was this visit for, if not to provide recompense? Brian gave a simpering smile to the city at the thought. The 'Great' Council, oh how he hoped the High Lord would upend it on its head.

Sasevi Saiyan peered through the viewport. The Federation diplomat shook his head and clucked his tongue against his beak, "This city never ceases to amaze me."

Leo nodded in agreement, "It is a most... wonderful city."

"Indeed," the Mrlssi turned his beady eyes on Leo. "What do you think will happen at the Council?" he clucked. The shuttle began its descent toward the landing pad

Godric took in a deep breath. "I'm not sure. House Pelagia seems like it wants to do something, I'm sure they will try something. I don't know how the other Houses will take it."

"I thought much the same. You know the Houses better than I do... how would the others react to a Pelagian proposal?"

The shuttle eased down onto the pad, its landing struts extending to give it the graceful landing of a feather falling to the floor. Brian's lip twitched.

"Most.... unfavorably," he said darkly.

"Indeed," the Mrlssi stood and the two walked down the gangway. They stood in sharp contrast to each other. The one, a Mrlssi, wearing vibrant clothes with startlingly brilliant feathers, a mixture of sharp colors. Godric was in black. Black pants, black tunic. The only thing that wasn't black was the sigil of his house embroidered upon his shirt. It was a blue phoenix, with blue flames flickering up from its wing. Other than his clothes he had with him a datapad, and the lightfoil he always wore on his belt.

The lightfoil was of particular influence. It had been handed down through his admittedly minor family through generations. It was silver in color, with the blade being brightest blue. The graceful lines of silver flowed along the sweeping hilt, molded like the waves of the Pelagian sea. The knuckle bow was a peculiar addition, since it seemed to serve no practical purpose the blade of a lightfoil would cut right through it, but overall it complemented the style of the elegant weapon. The lightfoil was something essential to every nobleman, for duels were still quite common though the outright slaying of commoners was not.

Sasevi carried no weapons. No one here was foolish enough to challenge the might of the Federation.

Together, the two oddly contrasted men made their way amongst the great crowds of Tapani aristocracy. The Mrlssi carried himself in a dignified manner, but did not strut like the others. Leo's stance was neutral. His dark eyes glanced about, the dangerous defiance hidden behind layers of apparent apathy.

Two-thousand of the Expanse's most powerful beings were on Estalle Island. They were all making their way to the enormous building that housed them all. Leo and Sasevi followed the rest up the only slightly inclined steps leading to the capitol. Godric glanced toward the top of the building. It was very tall.

"How high are her towers, how splendid her gates," muttered Godric, quoting an ancient text about this same building. It had been around since the days of Shey Tapani. He stared at it for several seconds before following Sasevi into the building. The guards on either side of the tremendous gates were impassive to those who passed, perfect statues.

As they passed the front desk, Sasevi waved his Federation seal. They were officials of the ruling government, no visitor's permit was necessary. They navigated the maze of the interior until they had found the Senate's main meeting room. It was an extremely large room, with balconies overlooking the chambers. It was to one of these balconies that Sasevi Saiyan and Leo Godric settled. They would wait here to watch the scene unfold before them.

Theux and other members of his House that were on this council filed in to sit in their accustomed positions. Among their number were lords, barons, some knights, and many of the highest ranking military officers in the Pelagian Defense Force. Theux had left his hotheaded brother at home. If the Mecetti coalition were to try any tricks, Trad would be best suited to deal with them. He was quite capable of commanding a fleet. Unfortunately, his abilities at inter-house politics were rather lacking. He tended to be too easily riled and speak out at the worst moments. Hence why he had been left at home.

The High Lord of House Pelagia settled into his seat on a dias that held the Council of Ten. Hundreds of beings settled into their seats. Over on the far right sat the bantha-headed Reenans. A flaming ram's skull was their sigil. Many Pegasi of House Calipsa could be seen upon the clothing of those proud Calipsans. The green Mecetti serpent was by far the most common sight, until the great eye of Melantha filled the room. Theux's face darkened. There were many of their enemies this day, where was House Cadriaan and House Barnaba? Finally, the great yellow hawks of Cadriaan could be seen filing into their seats as did the red dragons of Barnaba.

Sitting at the Council of Ten were all the High Lords and Ladies of the Houses, and other major figures. Though in its name it was only ten, there were at most thirty-five who sat on the Council of Ten. Several powerful representatives of the Freeworlds also sat on this Council. The head of the Herglic Trade Empire, Gaju, sat confidently in his seat. Though they called themselves a trade 'Empire' it was nothing more than the humble remnants of what had once really been a powerful syndicate. The leaders of the Freeworlds League also sat upon the Council of Ten. Typically the Noble Houses would ally against the Freeworlders and outvote them, then they would vote amongst themselves for power. Though it was supposed to be a Democratic entity, the Freeworlders were almost always shunted off to the side.

To Theux's left was his mother-in-law, Lady Bathos, High Lady of House Cadriaan. On his right sat Lord Jal Baset, the womanizing High Lord of House Melantha. Lady Bathos smiled at him, but Baset remained neutral. They all sat erect and dignified.

The opening ceremonies commenced and Theux wearily waited while they were all gone over. Much fatiguingly fastidiousness was gone through. House Melantha was questioned for an aggressive attitude towards the League of Freeworlds, but the majority really didn't care. Other minor things such as taxes and regulations were gone through. House Pelagia was praised for reopening the Shapani Bypass, though the high tariffs were troubling. Here, Theux sought to make his opening.

He stood as the Prime Minister gave him voice. He thanked the Prime Minister and moved to take over the central podium. The previous speakers had been minor nobles and boring ones too. The fact that the High Lord of Pelagia was about to address an issue made a ripple of excitement rush through the thousand members of the Great Council.

"Council members, gladly do I open the Shapani Bypass once more. Long has it flowed through our lands and it would be a shame to keep it closed to the detriment of all. But it is with humility that I admit our House is not what it once was. Just three systems remain in a Province that was once rich with worlds. For this reason these tariffs must remain. Our people starve while we continue to pay the gracious Herglic Trade Empire for their assistance in repairing our capital. I trust I do not need to remind such a wise council of why we must repair our capital? Of the bombing of our prized city by House Mecetti and of the despoiling of our waters. How the Calipsans took advantage of our weakness and seized our systems. Eight systems were ceded to them. Now, we are returning in strength, but these three systems alone simply cannot support us," Theux gazed intensely at the crowd of assembled council members. "Long have we born our disgrace, but at last we ask this. The tariffs on the Shapani bypass will be lowered. All we want is the return of what was once ours..." here the Calipsans began to grow restless and mutter amongst themselves. "The Netolio system."

"OUTRAGEOUS!" cried Lord Albert Bertram.

"Order!" cried the Prime Minister. High Lord Bertram reluctantly regained his seat, fuming with anger. "We will have order in this council!" The Prime Minister looked sternly over all, finally he turned to face Theux. "Lord Paddox, this council will consider your request. A vote shall be held, is this acceptable."

There was an overwhelming chorus of "Aye!" The Calipsans were furious and wanted to crush this opposition in what would surely be a spectacular landslide vote to their position. The Reenans looked smug. It was always fun to crush those upstart Pelagians. However, the Mecetti looked warily at the other Houses. The High Ladies of Barnaba and Cadriaan did not seem at all surprised by this announcement. Lord Baset kept a cool exterior, but seemed to be irritated at the announcement. The Lords of Mecetti looked at each other in consternation. They recognized what Reena and Calipsa did not, this was a trap. The High Lord of House Mecetti leaned over to whisper in Lord Bertram's ear, but he was brushed off by the irate Calipsan. How dare the Pelagians question their honor! To Albert Bertram, this was an inexcusable offense and must be quickly settled.

"Those in favor of this settlement?" asked the Prime Minister.

The votes of all the Pelagians, Cadriaans, and - to the shock and anger of the Calipsans - the Barnabans were cast in favor. A large holo screen indicated those in favor and opposed. A decision could be made by simply pressing a button on the datapads. Furious mutterings filled the room. Theux's face darkened. Melantha.... Lord Jaset had said he would support Pelagia's endeavors, what then was this? Did Melantha betray them? To Theux's immense pleasure, the Freeworlds all raised their hands in support. It gave them just enough to overpower the Mecetti coalition, if Melantha did not support the Mecetti.

"Those in opposition?"

A flurry of votes from the Mecetti coalition rose in opposition. It was not enough.

"House Melantha, do you decline your vote?"

Lord Baset smiled, "We will not interfere in the affairs of our neighbors this decision is between Pelagia and Calipsa. We will not force either hand."

Theux turned his dark, piercing eyes on the High Lord of Melantha. Lord Baset was clever with his words. He made himself seem the wiser, covering up his displeasure at this development. The Calipsans were nigh uncontrollable in their anger and the Reenans befuddled by this turn of events. But the Mecetti looked slyly upon the House of Pelagia, recognizing that their enemy had grown clever in defeat. Once more, the High Lord of the Mecetti leaned over to whisper in Bertram's ears, but was ignored as Bertram leapt to his feet.

"We will not give up Netolio!"

The Prime Minister looked sternly on Bertram and spoke slowly. "The Council.... will reconvene tomorrow. This meeting is adjourned."

Theux did not smile as he left the chambers. It would not do to be seen as smug in victory. If this was even a victory. A select few of his House followed him closely. It was entirely possible that their High Lord would be assassinated in revenge. Such a thing was not uncommon, even in the very heart of the Great Council. Lords had died of poison after a crucial vote, though such things were obviously frowned upon.

It was with slight coldness that Theux saw the Federation Mrlssi diplomat and his aide, Godric. Paddox nodded toward Godric, who bowed.

"It seems you were right, Baron," the Lord's voice was chilling.

"I aim for accuracy in my conjectures, my Lord. But I am truly sorry it did not turn out otherwise. It would have been a great benefit for our House."

"So you say..." said Theux darkly.

At this moment they rounded a bend and came face to face with Lord Bertram and his entourage. Bertram's eyes blazed fury.

"Lord Paddox, you have dishonored not only my House, but I also!" Bertram tore a glove from his hand and struck it to the ground. "Blood shall wash out dishonor!"

Theux stared at the thrown glove. All men when they came of age were taught a lesson. Three times they were touched on the shoulder, then slapped in the face with a glove. Those who knighted them would tell them this: "Never again will you bear these insults without redress. Honor is your life." So it was that the thrown glove caused all to shudder. Such an affront to a man's honor would not be taken without appropriate redress. There would be a duel.

"Who will be your second?" said Theux with icy fire in his voice. In this age it was common for the seconds to fight as well as the principals.

"Baron Desanders and Sir Kavoiqin," said Bertram haughtily.

"Very well.... then I will have Baron Aiolos and..." Theux stopped and turned to look at Godric. Leo's blood ran cold.... he wouldn't. "Baron Godric."
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Re: Phoenix Rising (Tapani Sector)

Post by Leo Godric » 2012-03-13 18:03

"No," clucked Sasevi Saiyan, his eyes going hard with anger. "I will not have duels fought here today. Especially not with my aide involved."

All those present turned to stare at the Mrlssi as if he had just defiled the dead. Duels were a way of life for the Tapani noblemen. Once the glove was thrown... it could not be undone. The sacred honor of the Tapani compelled them to engage in such a bloody sport, to preserve their dignity and pride, for among the Tapani hubris was a virtue.

Theux Paddox stared at Sasevi with a mixture of surprise and anger, "And why should we heed your commands? We are not dogs to beg at your feet."

"Certainly not, but I will not stand by and watch the two ruling heads of powerful families kill each other," Sasevi stared at Bertram and Theux in turn. "It would throw the Tapani sector into chaos, with every House flapping to grab power from the struggle." The Mrlssi spread his feathered arms in a gesture of supplication, "It should go without saying that the Federation doesn't want one of its primary supply lines to be unattended while the Tapani sector thrashes in the agonies of civil war."

In the background, Leo's face darkened. "The war is an inevitability. If you only knew..." Godric knew that the war machine Pelagon had slowly constructed in secret would not be deterred by the over-confidant and lax forces of Calipsa. Nothing would.

Throughout Sasevi's short tirade Lord Bertram's face had turned alternate shades of pink, red, and now an almost purple as he held his breath in tight. When the High Lord spoke it in trembling, whispered tones, "What darkness veils your eyes, Mrlssi? Do you not see? We are Tapani, and as Tapani we shall duel," he managed to bite out.

The avian shook his head, "No, unless you would chance the wrath of the Federation upon you?" Sasevi menaced. "All our power does not reside in might alone. What would happen to Calipsa if we denied access to our bacta shipments?" Bertram blanched slightly. The bacta could only be supplied through the Federation, as Pelagon refused to grant the Calipsans access to the trade flow. "You are already have angered the Federation enough with your antics toward Pelagon, do not press us further."

Theux let out an angered sigh, "This once will I let you dismiss our traditions, Saiyan, but do not try it again. The Federation may rule over a splintered Tapani, but gods help the one who angered us united."

No reply issued forth from Sasevi save for the subtle click-click of his beak. At once, the avian turned and left the gathering, his steps carrying him toward his diplomatic vessel. Brian Godric followed at a distance, a curious frown on his face. A united Tapani.... that would be something.

One Month Later

War came to the Tapani Sector and it came violently. Not long after Theux Paddox and his entourage arrived at the restored capital of Pelagon, the High Lord immediately marshaled his forces. From the Freeworlds he summoned the return of the many hundreds of nobles who had fled Pelagia after the Purge. At long last, after years of waiting, House Pelagia would have its vengeance. From within their hidden shipyards came forth Theux's secret Navy, who under his watchful eye had trained and grown until they were a force might to behold, but as yet untested in battle.

Originally, the Pelagian Fleet consisted of only two Tapani-class frigates and five Neutron Star-class bulk cruisers. But Theux saw the need for a different sort of fleet if he wished to succeed against the vastly superior forces of the Mecetti League. The High Lord sold off all the Bulk Cruisers in exchange for four smaller, but faster, Carrack-class cruisers. Over time the number slowly grew until Theux had a fleet of six Carracks, four Tapani-class frigates, and ten DP-20 corvettes. The large and imposing fleets of the Calipsans, mainly consisting of refitted Neubulons and large warships, would be far slower than Theux's agile fleet. Exactly as he intended.

The clever High Lord knew he could not sustain a war with the Calipsans unless he had more ships, but the Pelagian sector could barely stand the upkeep of his current vessels. He had to expand. The obvious choice was to attack Kamper directly from Bethal, but that risked Theux losing his entire fleet in open combat with Bertram. He needed another system and his eyes turned to Sheva.

The planet of Sheva had long been too tolerant of pirates, preferring to pay them off and even letting them settle bases upon their moons rather than drive them off. These pirates in turn raided the shipping lanes of Pelagia and her neighbors, virtually the only means of income for the recovering House. The merchants of Pelagon, including many of citizens of Giju, were disgruntled and itching for retribution. Theux saw his chance in their unrest. Calling a meeting of all the noblemen and merchants, Theux whipped them all into a frenzy against Sheva. He convinced the Herglics of Giju that were present to lend their ships in support. After the first week of his return to Pelagon, Theux launched an all out attack on Sheva. Terrified by the enormous fleet that had just arrived and having little means to defend themselves, the unsuspecting planet surrendered without a fight, but not so the pirates. The scum of the galaxy gathered themselves a small flotilla which they prepared to launch against the Pelagian fleet. Ever astute, Theux saw the danger in having to fight a prolonged battle with the pirates. He sent an emissary to the pirates and offered them a choice. Fight to the death to keep their bases, or keep the bases and fight for him under letters of marque. A few of the pirates raged at this, valuing their freedom above all else. But the majority understood that the offer Theux presented them with was a good one. The only difference now would be in who they raided. The pirates accepted the terms and killed the ringleaders who had disagreed, confiscating their ships to other captains.

With the pirates now directed at raiding the Calipsan supply lanes, Theux flew his fleet to Obelia and prepared for an invasion of Netolio. There was not a direct hyperlane to Netolio, but Theux had retrofitted the large yacht ship, Regal Destiny, and added a large array of sensor suites; capable of helping a fleet navigate through a place where no hyperlane was previously established.

Once, the system of Netolio had belonged to Pelagia, as had many of the systems under Calipsan rule. This was an advantage for Theux as it gave him the righteous cause and the hearts of the populace. The systems that had formerly been under Pelagia still saw themselves as Pelagian, even after years of Calipsan rule. Pelagian spies confirmed that the leaders of Netolio would gladly hand over their planet to what they saw as their rightful rulers. And so it was that Leo Godric once came before Theux Paddox. It was Leo, under the true guise of an Imperial envoy, that had negotiated with the leaders of Netolio and it was him who would report to Paddox.

Theux's glittering dark eyes studied Leo. "Tell me, what is the report from Netolio, Baron Godric?"

"Good, High Lord. The leaders of Netolio wish to throw off the burdensome rule of House Calipsa. Their planetary defenses and what ships they have will not join in against us. We have only to deal with two frigates Calipsa has stationed there as a precaution against revolt." Leo's face was a political mask. Though many of the Nobles despised him as being a part of the Federation, Leo had learned much in his time with the Federation diplomats and tacticians.

The High Lord nodded slowly, "It seems you've proven useful yet again. Usefulness has its rewards. I am appointing you captain of one of the DP-20 corvettes. But if your information proves false, expect dire consequences." The High Lord's flaming, dark eyes shone with intensity, as did Brian's own. In many ways the two were alike, but while one was a High Lord, the other was a mere Knight.

"Thank you, High Lord." Leo bowed and removed himself from Paddox's council room.

The High Lord rested wearily upon a silver-wrought chair, eyes staring off aimlessly into the beyond. "Upon me they rest their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor." He stood suddenly, and the rest of the high Pelagian nobles stood with him. "So we steel ourselves for war. It is determined then. We have now no thought in us but Netolio." he declared, marching out of the room followed closely by his entourage. "No Lord of Pelagia, if not Lord of Netolio!"
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