The Midsummer Imperial Ball

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Laurel WinteShrine
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The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Laurel WinteShrine » 2011-07-16 02:21

[This event chronologically takes place after C1M32]

Candles dipped fingers of amber flame over crystalline decanters, filled with an array of bright, jewel-toned liquids that shone in the rose-golden glow from the chandeliers overhead. Similarly lit aquariums along the walls displayed a vast menagerie of strange and vibrant sea creatures that lilted gently in the incandescent water.

Overhead, the ceiling was domed, glass inlaid with intricate filigree made of golden armature, affording a view of the vast velvet of the night sky beyond. The skies alit briefly as the attendees began to arrive in their vessels, landing in the adjacent spaceport where attendants awaited them before the champagne-colored lights that lead them to the front entrance of the estate.

A balcony lit by pale moonlight lay beyond the ballroom with fragrant lilies, paper thin and white as milk climbing over the balustrades, underneath the stained glass balcony enclosure, bathed in watery, aquamarine light.

The marble of the ballroom floor had been polished into a mirror-like sheen, inlaid with mosaic that depicted a scene of constellations and starbursts that shimmered like the iridescent scales of a large fish gliding through clear water. Swathes of sheer fabric ran in graceful streamers betwixt the hanging chandeliers on the ceiling, strings of pearlescent light running through them that kissed the very tops of the aquariums along the walls.

The orchestra was warming up their set in low, dulcet tones, furthermore adding to the dreamlike quality of the gala. They suddenly erupted into lustrous fanfare, a herald beginning to call out the titles and status of the first guests as they arrived; swept down the grand staircase and toward the buffet tables where the Master of the House Winte’Shrine greeted them, laughing jovially and offering them glasses of L'lahsh to get the festivities started.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Laurel still sat, a damp-haired mess and freshly bathed in her hanbok before her vanity as her attendants fussed at her face and hair, and she bit her lip as her mother strode in. Moro,” she began, the term for mother in the house traditional dialect. Moro, I cannot…. I cannot go down there. I cannot do this.” Her heart fluttered like a small bird as her gaze flicked, again, towards the doors of the bedchamber of her childhood, her prison of three years. Her mother instantly took note of her panic, and ordered the windows to be opened, letting in the sultry, aromatic air of a midsummer’s night from the gardens.

Given the circumstances, she should have been thrilled. As a child, she would watch her elder sister be bathed and dressed for these sorts of occasions with the utmost care, then strode out into the ballroom in a euphoric mist of shimmering fabric, soft giggles and perfume. Often, she had run the estate hours before the cotillions were to begin as the house attendants prepared, the household suddenly full with fairytale romanticism, pageantry.. it all beheld secretive enchantment to the eyes of a young girl. The house attendants would humor Laurel as she crept away from her bedchambers in her nightgown to watch in secrecy from the staircase, the festivities starting well beyond her bedtime as a little girl.

Laureleiden, you are fine. You are safe. Come, look at what I have brought you, a gift from your dear fielstra and I.” Her mother smiled as she was turned around in her vanity chair, her attendants never deviating from their work for a moment.

A dress figure, adorned in a cascade of rich fabric was brought in, and Laurel couldn‘t help but hold her breath. It was magnificent- she had fought her mother tooth and nail over wearing her Imperial Dress Uniform, and for once she was anything but disappointed that she had lost. But one detail presented itself to her, and her eyes widened in shock.

Fierfek.

Moro, this dress… it is white.” The gown was indeed colored a rich, pale cream; Her mother beamed, and Laurel started up as if she were a cat with its tail trod upon, realizing its implication. “Hurry, child! The guests are already arriving!” It all made sense, now: Weeks earlier, Laurel had received a personal invite to attend the annual Imperial Ball at her home, an honor which had been extended to the entirety of the command, as well as several other noble families and friends close to House Winte‘Shrine. Giving her parent’s standing as accomplished diplomats, it was readily agreed upon that the Imperial Ball was to be held at the Winte’Shrine estate, much to their daughter’s chagrin.

Without decorum, Laurel was stood up, marched and undressed of her hanbok behind her dressing screen; she was attending this ball whether she wanted to or not, apparently, and she certainly fancied herself no debutante. Her mother clucked her tongue as she made her way towards the door to welcome their guests as the sounds of more titles being called out drifted through the hallways.

“Despite yourself, Laureleiden, who knows? You may come to enjoy yourself this night..”
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Devan Kronos » 2011-07-16 03:00

Devan sat in his hotel room buttoning up his shirt. He needed to finished getting dressed for the Imperial Ball then he had to head down the hall to next door to pick up his date for the evening, Aquila. When the ball had been announce Devan had managed to work up the courage to ask her to be his date for the evening. Much to his delight she had agreed, although he had no idea what had been going through her mind when he asked he hoped it was good. Devan put on his tie and made sure it was straight. He got up grabbing his suit coat and put it on.

Devan had arranged for him and Aquila to have neighboring rooms, he need not have really asked to be honest. The hotel in conjunction with the people organizing the ball had been placing the people who would be coming together next to each other where they could. It made for easier organization later on. Devan walked over to the full body mirror and looked at himself. His jet black tuxedo smooth and unwrinkled like his white dress shirt underneath, his black tie completed the ensemble. He smiled into the mirror.

Devan had to admit, even to himself he looked good. He walked over to the bathroom and put a little bit of cologne on and straightened out his hair. Looking at himself in the mirror once more he walked over to the door and exited the room. He walked the ten feet to the room next to his and paused. He looked at the door, for one of the first times in his life he felt a little apprehension, he really wanted Aquila to enjoy the night with him. After all the trauma of recent events they both needed some rest and relaxation. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

"Aquila, it's Devan. I'll be here when you're ready. Take your time." he said through the door.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Aquila Slyphs » 2011-07-16 06:19

Aquila nervously fumbled with her hair, feeling uneasy about the upcoming date. To her dismay, no one else from Fenrir squadron was invited and had they not insisted so strongly she attend without them anyway, Aquila would have just as soon let herself stay behind if it meant she didn't have to alienate her friends and feel bad for doing it. Sure, Devan was a nice guy, but it was an eleven to one ratio so they had strength in numbers along with being able to relate to her a lot better, being pilots and fellow squadmates and all. I miss them... she thought as she stared into the mirror in the refresher, her hands in her blonde hair as she tried to figure out what she wanted to do with it. Wear it up? Curl it? Ohhh... I can't decide... She had to decide quick because they would be late if she spent much longer debating what to do with her hair. Trying a few styles, she finally decided to pin it up into an updo, giving her the appearance of added height which she really didn't have. Coupled with her stiletto heels, she might actually be able to appear to be Devan's height.

The hard part out of the way, Aquila finished up with a bit of red lipstick and blue eyeliner and shadow. Looking at her reflection, Aquila accepted what she saw, knowing she didn't have the time to start second guessing herself as she walked back out into the main room and fetching the long, strapless blue dress she had brought with her. Slipping it on, she was glad it still fit as she felt she had eaten a few too many baked goods lately. Looking at herself in the mirror, she twisted around a little, examining her figure for a long moment. It was a slimming dress, further helping give her the illusion of height.

A knocking came at the door suddenly, causing Aquila to stiffen in surprise. "Aquila, it's Devan. I'll be here when you're ready. Take your time." he said through the door.

"Uh... I'm almost ready!" She replied, raising her voice enough so Devan could hear. Grabbing her heels, she quickly threw them on her feet and grabbed her matching blue handbag, quickly looking at herself in the mirror one last time before opening the door to meet Devan and not keep him waiting any longer. "I-I-I'm sorry!" she stuttered, as she looked at Devan who was patiently standing there. He looked handsome in a tuxedo, she had to admit. "You... You look good," she managed, adding quickly as she felt her face start to flush, "I... I wasn't aware it was such a formal event." Seeing him in that tux, she felt very under-dressed.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Mydnyte Syn » 2011-07-16 10:28

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Mydnyte found herself dressed to kill in a gorgeous black evening dress with a low-scooped open back, simple black sandals with a low heel, jewelry to accessorize the ensemble and pull it all together -- all for a ball she had been mysteriously invited to but by whom she did not know. She stood in front of a full-length mirror looking at her reflection but she didn't really seem to see herself. Her mind was elsewhere as she idly plucked a loose thread from the seam-work above her breasts, then touched the shiny diamond necklace laying cozily upon her neck, and adjusted the thick bangle diamond bracelet around her right wrist so it sat comfortably.

The necklace and the matching bracelet had been a final gift from her step-brother. She just didn't receive it until after his death. After the paperwork and a few months had gone by, Syn went through the process of getting rid of his belongings. She found the wrapped boxes in his closet, tucked high on the shelf and way toward the back. Along with them had been two tickets to the first Quent Assassins game of the season he was going to be in as the team's new quarterback. Until he became ill. Live your dreams, the message inside the blank card had said, written in her step-brother's chicken-scratch scrawl. If he only knew how terrifying my dreams really were, Mydnyte thought as she looked to the reflection of the necklace around her neck once more.

"Mydnyte? Hon? Your taxi is here." A female voice called down the hall. It belonged to her best friend, Rhyn Helia.

One last look in the mirror told the young woman she was ready. With a breath drawn in apprehension, Syn grabbed her clutch purse and left her bedroom, swept down the hall and into the living room. "Well? How do I look?" She asked, seeking an opinion from Rhyn as she turned around once in place.

Rhyn wolf-whistled, then helped Mydnyte with the full-length black satin cloak that came to rest on her bare shoulders. "You look hot, girl! Go get 'em and have a great time. I'm jealous," Rhyn teased, then pressed a friendly kiss to Syn's cheek and ushered her out the door.
* * * * *
The flight wasn't as long as Syn thought it would be, but it still gave her ample time to think. She was trying to recall if her step-brother, Stefan, had mentioned anything about a fancy ball at any point from the time when he had received the news that he had been drafted to the shockball team and the diagnosis of his illness, or if maybe he mentioned it after that. But no matter how hard she tried to remember, she couldn't.

Who would send the invitation? Mydnyte was certain she wouldn't know anybody at the ball. After all, she'd never heard the name Winte`Shrine before. The only thing that came to mind was the perhaps an old ... acquaintance ... from the past was in the region and he was looking for a little company. Not that Mydnyte was a slave any longer and she'd do that of her own free will now, but it was the only logical idea she could come up to explain the mysterious arrival of the invitation followed by the arrival of the package containing the dress she now wore. She hadn't bought it herself, heaven's no! She'd never be able to afford such a luxury, not with having to pay on Stefan's medical expenses that his life insurance policies weren't enough to cover.

The transport vessel finally docked at the spaceport. The transport was also sent on behalf of whomever wanted her at the ball this evening. Syn was escorted by the pilot to an awaiting hover-cab, stowed away in the back, and then the cab took off. Apparently the driver already knew where to take her. There was nothing else to do so she sat back and drank in the sights. Her journey began in the busy industrial district of the area and ended a little more thirty or so minutes later in the upscale residential district.

Syn peered out the window at the sight of the luxury estate sprawled out so richly, so crisply before her. It looked like the homes of the rich and famous she saw on that one show aired on Holovid 26's Lifestyles of the Elite.

She turned toward the cab driver and began unclasping her clutch purse when he stopped her immediately. "All ready been taken care of ma'am. You have yourself a good time tonight." Syn managed a small smile but she was alarmed at how well planned and executed the mysterious benefactor's plot was being carried out.

Mydnyte departed the taxi and stood on the walk gazing at the lavish home. As she drank in the sights and sounds of the event, Syn fell in step with another group that had also just arrived. She saw numerous balconies and she could only imagine the types of rooms those led from. The fragrance of lilies hung in the air, emanating from the delicate petals of the flowers growing over the balustrades.

Even before entering the foyer of the estate, Mydnyte could hear the low tones of an orchestra tuning their instruments and preparing to entertain the guests with background music. When they suddenly erupted into a cacophony of heralding triumph and she heard an announcer calling out the fancy titles of the aristocrats attending the function, Mydnyte stopped dead in her tracks and looked like a deer caught in headlights, even as several couples brushed right by her murmuring hushed "excuse me"'s and "pardon me,"'s.

"I don't belong here," she said softly under her breath and only to herself as magnificent blue eyes looked at the wealth and prestige of not only the estate, but of those going inside and being announced as if they were all-important royalty. The lady turned around, her cloak billowing behind her as she hurried back to the walkway with hopes that her taxi would still be there.

Alas, it was not.

With a sigh, she unclasped her purse and withdrew the invitation to read it over again. Maybe I'm just at the wrong address, she thought. But when she compared the address engraved on the invitation to the one of the estate, she saw it was in fact the right location.

Just as she was about to turn and start the long walk back to the spaceport, she felt a strong hand press flat against the small of her back, smelled the subtle scent of his cologne, and shivered slightly at the low, deep voice that murmured clearly near her ear, "M'lady, you will accompany me inside." Mydnyte didn't have to turn to see the face that went with that voice.

She knew who it was.

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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Devan Kronos » 2011-07-16 22:26

"You... You look good. I... I wasn't aware it was such a formal event."

Devan smiled at Aquila. She looked absolutely stunning, for a moment he was left speechless. She wore a long strapless blue dress that accentuated her body perfectly. Her ruby red lips and blue eye shadow made her look even better. Her hair was done up in a hair do that added inches to her height. Aquila had always been pretty self conscious about her height. To him she needn't have worried about it, she looked perfect as is.

"Don't worry about it Aquila. I'm probably overdressed as it is." He said with a chuckle. "Don't worry about being underdressed. You... You look absolutely fantastic just the way you are." Devan flashed her a big smile and waited for her to respond.

Once he did she extended his arm in a crook. Aquila nervously put her arm through Devan's arm. He walked her down the hall to the turbolift making small talk. Devan hit the button for the ground floor. When they arrived in the vast expanse of a lobby they made their way to the exit. A hovercar was waiting for them. Devan smiled at Aquila and held the back door hope for her and helped her get in before getting in himself.

"Driver, take us to the ball if you please." Devan said as he sat in the back with Aquila.

Devan smiled at her before looking back forward. His left hand gingerly extended next to him and took hold of Aquila's hand as they headed off to the ball.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Aquila Slyphs » 2011-07-17 01:20

This was the first formal event Aquila would be attending with a date. It took her a moment to realize that this was actually the first real date she was going on bereft of her friends which made her feel even more nervous than she was already, nevermind the fact she still felt that she wasn't dressed up enough. The hovercar took them to the ball and Aquila remained nervously silent for the duration of the trip, her loose grip on Devan's hand further emphasizing the apprehension she was experiencing. She fidgeted with her right hand, twirling a loose strand of her blonde hair around it as she watched the many buildings speed past the window.

When they arrived, Devan, ever the gentleman, got out and walked around to her side of the speeder and opened the door up for her before she was even able to register they had arrived, her mind having been lost in space somewhere. Flying was so much easier than this and she couldn't help but wonder what the others were doing back on the Nemesis. Training? Playing pazaak? Eating? The possibilities were endless.

Click!

Aquila gasped and jumped in her seat a little, startled by the suddenness of her door opening catching her off guard from her current mental state. Putting a hand to her chest, she breathed a sigh of relief as she saw Devan standing outside, an apologetic look on his face. "S-Sorry," she managed as she slowly stepped outside. Her blue eyes slowly drifted over to look at the other people who were arriving and suddenly Aquila felt very, very out of place as people were all much better dressed up than she was. Unable to step forward, she rubbed her left hand over her other wrist, feeling the smooth skin and distinct lack of jewelery. All she had was the small silver necklace with the pendant made of jade and silver. "I c-can't go in there," she stammered, chickening out suddenly as she looked away. She didn't possess much as she hadn't really spent many credits and didn't have much time to go out shopping for anything fancier, classier and more elegant.

Of course, Devan would have none of it and voiced his reassuring words to try and make her feel better about herself and her outfit but Aquila knew how these sorts of affairs worked and being under-dressed was about the same as showing up in a plastic bag. Reluctantly, she allowed herself to be escorted closer as she glanced at the other women and their outfits. Maybe no one will notice, Aquila thought to herself as she tried to envision herself being invisible, something she hadn't done for a long time. It almost felt like her first day back on the Federation, rife with a gut wrenching tension and the scary unfamiliarness life contained. Suddenly she froze just before they reached the main doors that lead inside. "I'm sorry Devan... I... I can't do this... There's too many people and they're all much better dressed than I am."
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Zekk Constantine » 2011-07-17 02:07

Zekk stepped out of the limousine and his brightly shined shoe clacking down against the pavement as he stepped onto the pavement. His hand was holding his comlink up to his ear as he yelled at someone on the other end. The driver, wisely ignores his charge's bad words and foul language and closes the door and drives off.

"George! What the f*** don't you understand about 'by Friday'! When I give you a deadline I god damn well mean it!" Zekk almost yelled but managed to keep his voice confined to the few feet around him.

Zekk frowned as he listened to the voice on the other end.

"I don't give a flying f*** if you need to make them all work overtime all weekend! This was supposed to be done today! The entire factory is stalled until they fix it!! I want everything repaired and back in operation by Sunday evening or all of you can look for new jobs, understand?!? Good." Zekk said handing up and snarling to the empty air.

Why was it so hard to find good help these days? Zekk sighed and cleared his head and cooled down. He straightened out his suit and relaxed a bit. He was pretty dressed up for this but he had opted against a full blown tuxedo, he had never really liked them. They weren't much different than his high end suits, so he just wore one of those. His black suit with grey strips was crisp and flat and his blue dress shirt pressed, to top it off he had a red tie with distanced blue stripes. Glancing around he noticed his date had yet to arrive, so he stood and awaited her arrival with a small introspective smile. Remembering that this was how their first meeting had begun, at a ball.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Devan Kronos » 2011-07-17 04:10

"I'm sorry Devan... I... I can't do this... There's too many people and they're all much better dressed than I am."

Devan should have seen this coming. It wasn't that she didn't want to go it was just that she was so nervous and she was thinking about it too much. That was just something Aquila did, she lacked self confidence in the extreme. All he needed to do was to distract her from her fears while gently guiding her inside.

"You look spectacular Aquila... So Aquila, how do you like your new fighter? Like it more or do you miss your old one?" Devan asked looking at her.

That question got her attention. As Aquila looked and him and started to answer he using the hand of hers he still held started to gently and slowly guide her inside. All she needed was a little nudge in the right direction and usually she was fine once she got used to her surroundings.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Aquila Slyphs » 2011-07-17 05:09

"Well..." Aquila began as she slowly walked forward at Deven's subtle guidance. "The Paladin is a... good starfighter. More durable than the Interceptor though Mayli seems to think its too slow." She thought about the previous mission and parsed her lips together. "It's also very complex," she confessed, "There's so many weapon systems- the ion cannons, variable lasers, missiles- and that's before we touch the beam weapon module, stardust overdrive..." As Aquila spoke, she was eventually guided inside the large building where the grand ball was being held but her mind was more focused on expressing her opinion of the TIE and answering Devan's question that she had completely forgotten about her hesitation.

A lot of unfamiliar faces...

"I suppose the thing I like most about it is that it's a lot more durable than the Interceptor but now it seems we're also capable of attacking larger targets like warships." That thought scared Aquila greatly as it was bad enough to be dealing with X-Wings but now being expected to tackle corvettes or defense platforms on top of that? "I do miss the old one, it felt a lot more... compact. I didn't feel like such a big target in the 'sqint'." Aquila giggled nervously, realizing she had referred to the TIE in the same way New Republic pilots called it. Guess Alath is rubbing off on me...

Glancing around at the lavish decor, Aquila only now realized that she had somehow gotten herself inside the place. Realizing she had been tricked with such a disarming question, Aquila, now inside and looking around at all the fancily dressed up people, resigned to herself to remaining. Maybe she didn't look half as good as many of the other women strutting around, but at least she was with one of the more sharply dressed men which might help avert eyes away from her. "It's been so long since I've been to one of these," she breathed softly, letting her eyes take in everything. "I remember when my father used to hold these sorts of things back home, all the people that would attend and-"

That never actually happened...

Aquila trailed off and suddenly hung her head down, her body starting to tremble a little. "But, I guess you already knew that," she said, her voice full of a sudden sadness and unaware that he had no idea of the thought that just passed through her head. Shaking her head of the thought, another quick glance around allowed her ears to pick up the wonderful music of the orchestra. "Oh wow. There's even an orchestra here."

A droid approached the two of them and extended it's hand. "Hello Sir and Madam. May I check-in your coats?"

"Oh... no..." The slow realization hit Aquila that, in her rush to meet Devan and not waste any time, "I forgot my coat back at the hotel."
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Devan Kronos » 2011-07-17 05:43

Devan nodded as he listened to her. She was a pilot after all so she was always interested in her fighter. Devan kind of felt a little bad about tricking her but that was just who Aquila was you had to help her along past her shyness in places. He knew there was a vibrant personality under all that shyness, but there was also the other personality, Devan just hoped that one wouldn't make an appearance tonight. That one would have to be dealt with in the future, but for now Devan just wanted to spend a fun, entertaining, and possibly romantic evening with Aquila.

When she noticed she had made it inside she started looking around again an commenting on the place. It was a rather nice place, big wide open and the ball room was up ahead of them with, indeed as she mentioned there was a live orchestra. The walls were well decorated and the marble floor shined in the light. Devan noticed the droid come up to them and ask for their coats.

"Oh... no... I forgot my coat back at the hotel."

Devan squeezed Aquila's hand reassuringly.

"It's ok Aquila, it's not cold out right now. If it gets cold later you can have mine." Devan said looking at her with a reassuring smile.
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Syren » 2011-07-17 06:44

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"Stop fussing over it and leave me alone!" Syren snapped at her serving droid as it was getting its wires in a bunch over the train of her evening gown. Syren didn't give two fraks if there was a tiny sequin missing. Who in the hell would be so particular as to actually lift the train and examine it that closely? If someone had the audacity to even attempt such a feet, they'd draw back a stump quicker than they could blink.

The woman hated droids. Syren only saw one use for them and that was for cleaning, taking care of pets, and doing physical labor so humans could live easier lifestyles. To think that there were actually planets out there being run by droids made the woman sneer. She was thankful that she never had to travel that far or had to deal with them. Negotiations would end with their metal heads rolling on the floor, she was certain.

Syren finished primping and looked herself over in the mirror. "You are one beautiful woman. This dress will definitely turn heads tonight," she said to her reflection. She wrinkled her nose playfully at her reversed self-image and slipped on her heels then went to the foyer of her penthouse suite. She stopped just short of the door and lifted the skirt enough to make sure her lightsaber was securely snug within a deep pocket fold inside of the full-length cloak she would toss over her shoulders this evening.

She and Zekk Constantine had finally struck an accord in a financial deal Syren went to see him for. She needed half a billion credits and he had the clout, as well as the assets, to back a loan. Risky venture on his part, yes. Would she screw him over? Only time would tell. One more quick glance in the mirror, then she tossed the cloak over her shoulders and swept from the penthouse.
* * * * *
The flight wasn't long and it sure beat dealing with street level traffic. Syren wasn't a very patient woman in many aspects, but she could be as patient as a predator stalking its prey when required. Odd how she could so easily balance such a delicate trait as patience. There were times when patience paid off and times when it did not. She just learned to judge easily when those times were.

Tonight wasn't so much about celebrating the sealed deal, at least not to her. Tonight she would be surrounded by influential people who could pull strings, had banks in the palms of their hands, and much more. Tonight was about reconnaissance in her long term plans. Tonight was about acquiring information and as much as she possibly could while still being the trophy on Zekk's arm.

Greeted by one of the attendants of the House Winte`Shrine, Syren was whisked away in one of the new fancy carriages, complete with footmen and driver, like she were a Princess from a Fairytale. And hey, why not? Just for one night she decided to allow herself to enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the gala.

Syren herself was from an aristocratic Corellian family but that was information she kept private from all. One have to do a lot of digging in order to discover the lineage of her heritage. Most people never put that much effort into it so she wasn't too worried about anyone finding anything out.

Arriving at the estate, Syren waited for the footman to open the door and offer his hand before getting out. She thanked the gentleman politely, then turned her attention to the ostentatious expanse of the property. "And people call me arrogant," she murmured to herself, now walking up the walk toward the line of people beginning to enter the house.

"You look handsome this evening, Zekk," she said with an amicable smile while slipping her arm into his. She was, of course, fashionably late.
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DraaygoRiinuuk
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by DraaygoRiinuuk » 2011-07-17 06:53

Draaygo stood in his hotel room at the Mariote Hotel, staring at his reflection in the mirror as he buttoned the cuffs of the jacket he wore as part of his midnight blue three-piece suit. He decided against wearing a tux, as that was far to formal for him, and had instead decided on wearing a casual suit with the jacket unbuttoned.

He looked at his cybernetic arm as he buttoned the cuff around it. It was taking longer than he liked for him to get used to its new abilities. In fact, in order to avoid anymore incidents where he used to much strength he had a "safety" installed that would limit its strength to just barely above the human norm. After a recent event where he had accidentally crushed the hand of a new doctor, he wasn't taking any chances. Luckily the man had understood the problem, so there weren't any charges pressed, but he did feel really sorry about it.

Today especially he didn't want to cause any trouble. He was about to attend a formal ball, and he had a date. The last thing he wanted to do was accidentally harm her, but knowing his luck something bad would have happened. So he had the limiter activated as soon as he landed on the planet.

He finished buttoning up and stood up straight as he looked in the mirror, inspecting himself and making sure he didn't miss a button. Satisfied, he looked over his invitation one more time, remembering his reaction when he first got it.

[hr][/hr]

Two Weeks Prior

Draaygo sat in his office going over some paperwork for the newest transfers into his fleet. Lately it seemed that all he did was paperwork. Suddenly a warning sound came from his terminal as a new message came in. Looking up from his datapad to look it over, a frown crept across his face. The Midsummer Imperial Ball? he thought. It wasn't the first formal event he had been invited to. Since becoming a Task Force Commander he had been to several events. Guess I'll have to get dressed up again. It's not so bad, so long as it isn't to formal. The invitation said he could bring a date, which got him thinking. He regretted not doing so last time he went to an event like this. It was sometimes a little awkward to be at such events by yourself.

The door to his office opened and his assistant, Petty Officer Bethany Windsor, came in with a datapad. He had an open door policy on his ship, as long as it wasn't locked, you could enter at your own leisure. She circled around his desk and put the datapad in front of him.

"Ooh, what's that?" she asked as she glanced at his terminal. "Midsummer Ball, eh? So you going to go?"

"Yes," he said. "What? Something wrong with that?" he asked when he saw the look on her face.

"No, sir. I just didn't realize you were into those sort of things," she replied innocently. "Are you going to bring a date? Who is it? Do I know her?"

"I actually kind of like these events. It's nice to dress nicely once in a while, and the music is always nice too. As far as who I'll go with," he shrugged, "I haven't decided. I'm not involved with anyone, and I don't really have any chances to go out and meet people."

"Hm, well if you can't think of anyone, I'll go with you," she said with a smile. "I can't let you go by yourself, someone has to keep you from causing trouble."

He chuckled. "Thanks, but I don't think that would be a good idea. I wouldn't want to put you in a position where rumors could start. I am your commanding officer, and some might start talking if we went together."

She shrugged and picked up some of the completed forms he had on his desk. "Oh well, my offer still stands," she said.

"Actually," he said thoughtfully, "I have someone in mind I could invite. I'm not sure whether she'd be up for it, but I won't know until I ask."

"Good luck," Bethany said as she exited.

"Thanks," he called out after her. "Well, here's hoping," he said as he established a communications channel with the Observer. He hoped she wasn't busy and could accept his call. It wasn't really something he wanted to send in a message.

[hr][/hr]

Draaygo was still a little surprised Crystala had agreed to be his date for the Midsummer Ball. He thought it might have something to do with the fact she didn't want to go alone, same as him, but he planned on trying to make it enjoyable none the less. He really did like her, he would have actually went alone if he didn't. She was smart, strong, courageous, and beautiful, all traits he admired.

He looked at his chrono and decided it was time to head for the ball. He made sure everything was ready and then left his room and made his way for Crystala's. She was a few rooms further down the hall, so it wasn't a long walk. He thought it was nice that rooms had been provided so the attendees could get ready in comfort before they made their way to the Winte'Shrine Estate. He stopped outside of her door and then sent her a short message.

'I'll be waiting for you outside your door whenever you are ready. Take your time.


He didn't want to disturb her while she got ready herself, and he didn't feel right yelling through the door.
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Open up your eyes and you'll see,
That I'm not perfect,
That's what I'm trying to be,
Cause I know you're worth it.
These new demons are changing me inside,
Changing me inside.
- I See Stars "New Demons"

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Crystala Endivain
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Crystala Endivain » 2011-07-17 08:08

The door opened up only moments after the message was sent and Crystala stood on the other end, regarding Draaygo with turquoise eyes and the barest hint of a smile. She wore a purple silk dress that shimmered gently in the light. Her backside was left bare, from her neck down to the small of her back. A thin silver chain and neck loop holding the long flowing dress in place all the way down her front and covering her legs, drapping onto the floor and concealing her feet that wore a pair of matching heels. It wasn't a very practical outfit in her mind as it was next to impossible to hide a lightsaber or any other weapon however she had enough mastery with the Force to know that a bladed weapon was never far from her capable hands. Looking at Draaygo's outfit, his midnight blue suit almost complementing her own gown, she allowed herself a little smile as she said through bluing eyes, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say we almost have coordinated this. You do look very dapper though, very sharp indeed."

He offered her his arm which she gently took and walked with him down the hallway. A pang of guilt hit her, the false pretenses of her acceptance of his invite coming to mind as she sensed his feelings, the Commander having managed to land himself a date and one that would make him the talk of a lot of inner circles if Crystala's reputation meant anything. No doubt, somewhere, a bunch of agents are wagering one to one odds that he'll be dead before the night is through. She didn't kill indiscriminately, and so long as Draaygo gave her no reason to and the rumours that had been circulating regarding the Midsummer Imperial Ball turned out to be false, she might actually be able to enjoy herself and not kill somebody.

As they left the hotel and hailed down a taxi that would take them to the Winte'Shrine Estate, Crystala was already hard at work, spotting an unmarked speeder which she knew belonged to the ISIS, a trio of agents inside, all of them staring at the monitors and double-checking to make sure the recording device was activated. IntOrg and the Analysis Bureau would have a lot of work cut out for them later as any unauthorized duplicate files would need to be found, confiscated and burned. "Thank-you for inviting me," Crystala began sincerely as the two of them entered a speeder that would take them to the estate, "I was worried I'd be attending this event alone."

Already she could imagine a lot of people either rolling their eyes or staring blankly at the monitor or sitting with their jaws handing wide open. Those who knew her best, if such a thing could be claimed by anyone, would say that going at anything alone is something that would never concern her, and it was true. It was more convenience than anything else, why attend alone if someone was already asking to be with you as a date? If there was any need to create any sort of illusion, this would be the perfect cover. And that's why she felt that small pang of guilt, that she was working on behalf of the ISIS rather than taking his request seriously and putting it ahead of whatever rumour prompted her to accept the invite she had received in the first place.

The NIF had a bad history of formal affairs like this going woefully south. Twice the NIF had thrown similar events and twice something bad happened to ruin them, the most recent being the bombing aboard the Aegis. Crystala remembered that well and so when the intel was passed to her that some disgruntled person was attempting an attack to make it three-for-three, she had little choice but to take it seriously.

Arriving at the estate, Crystala spotted a couple more of her own people milling about, another unmarked speeder in the distance that served as the surveillance hub while two ISS agents, one posing as a photographer taking pictures of all the people entering the ball, the other, an impoverished street urchin gazing on at all the rich fancy people, kept careful watch for any signs of potential trouble. Other agents would be dotted about, posing as waiters or musicians or even estate staff. The reach of the ISIS was long and encompassing, exactly how Crystala wanted it to be.

"Huh... Gotta say, Undercover One looks pretty good." The inside of the speeder was lit only by the holographic monitors as two men watched the various feeds. "Mobile Two, do you have a visual?"

"Survey One, this is Mobile Two, yeah, I see her... Damn that's one lucky man. You think the Commander will want to trade places?"

A third voice entered the channel with a stern warning. "Survey One, Mobile Two, this is Hub. Stay focused least Undercover One breaks cover and guts the lot of you." The Hub was the main control station in a building not far away that coordinated all the various units and acted as the most direct uplink to the nearest command ship, in this case, the Observer. Intel from other sources were fed to the Hub who could then filter it down to other agents and vice versa.

Stepping out of the speeder, Crystala slowly walked up the steps to the estate, her arm looped through Draaygo's right arm which was cooler than the outside air around her. Her movements were a little unbalanced as heels weren't something she took to wearing very often either. "I'm probably going to break my ankles at this rate," she sighed as her foot failed to completely catch the step up. She nearly stumbled forward but a quick catch with the Force, or maybe just good reflexes on Draaygo's behalf- Crystala wasn't quite sure- saved her from an early start to the humiliation that she felt was inevitable. "Thanks," she managed, her voice soft, eyes brown as she looked down at her feet which were obscured by the long purple dress before adding, "Can you tell I do this often?"
"Dagger of the ISIS? No, I am the hand that wields it!" - Director-General Endivain
"The quickest way to find the needle, burn the haystack!"

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Mouse
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Mouse » 2011-07-17 11:34

There was more than one impoverished street urchin in attendance at this Imperial ball. But Mouse was the true street urchin, not someone merely pretending to be. This girl was a little too smart for her own good and oft times that intelligence only got her into trouble. Unlike the imposter, Mouse didn't have an invitation or clearance level to be in attendance of the exclusive event. Judging by the looks of things, though, some pretty famous faces were arriving for the shindig.

Dark amber eyes, speckled with gold highlights, admired the beautiful dresses worn by the women and soaked in just how handsome the men all looked, dressed to the nines and looking quite dapper. As she watched from afar, hidden in the shadows of alley across the street from the estate, she sighed wistfully. It wasn't often that the street rat let her softer side show. To do that in the streets one should just sign over their death warrant. It was a sign of weakness and that could either get her killed or worse ... captured and enslaved. Slavery was still very legal in many locations around the galaxy. On any given day, a minimum of thirty-four children were sold into slavery in any location, even in the areas people least expect that it would be happening. If they only knew.

It'd been at least a year, if not longer, since Mouse had last seen a man who had begun to mean something to her. He was more like the father-figure than anything else and she was pulling a heist with him. They were in cahoots for stealing the Millennium Falcon, the infamous YT-1300 owned by General Han Solo, well known for making the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs. Everyone knew the story, too.

She'd heard though that he had managed to pull the heist. They were separated during events out of their control and it just wasn't possible for Mouse to get back to him without blowing his cover. But then things took a turn for the worse for the young street urchin. Ultimately, it was that very reason which resulted in the orphan being where she was at this moment in time.

He'd never show up at a fancy to-do like this so stop searching the crowd for him. He isn't there. God how she hated the voice of reason! It was usually right and that drove her womprat insane. "Oh shut up," she said to the imaginary voice in her head.

"Get moving, girl. I haven't got all night and the clock is ticking." Said a rather gruff, gravelly voice from somewhere behind her.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm goin'," she snapped back haughtily. Besides. The last time he saw you, your hair was a mousie brown, shorter, too. And you were younger. He'd never recognize you now. She'd have to wait until the people all went inside. There were too many eyes, heavy security. Once the party moved indoors, Mouse would be able to move quicker, quieter, and slip inside unnoticed.

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Laurel WinteShrine
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Laurel WinteShrine » 2011-07-17 14:45

Laurel took another turn in the full length mirror; Again, and yet again.

Who was this person?

An absolutely stunning reflection stood before her, dressed in a creamy silk that gently fell over her curves like water, pooling over her feet into a short train that followed in her wake as she spun about. This dress was not meant for the innocent charms of a mere girl; it meant to accentuate the body, clinging gently to the feminine form of a young woman. Her cheeks, lips were tinted a sheer, cherry pink; Her wide, green eyes were aglow like emerald lanterns, carefully lined with kohl and accompanied with long, black-stained lashes. Her hair was gently curled and pinned up with seed pearls laced within; tiny clusters of stars in a twilit midnight.

“Since you are without an escort, I would be honored if you were to accept my invitation to attend you, dear lady, to the ballroom.” Laurel smiled as she turned to see her father bow to her in his full regalia, and she timidly took his extended hand and wordlessly let him sweep her out of the room in a euphoric grace. Dropping a tender kiss into her hair amongst the sequence of pearls, he led her out down the hallway, chuckling when he felt his daughter apprehensively squeeze his hand and patted it to reassure her.

The sounds of the orchestra filled her ears as they finished a lilting waltz, the smells of the buffet wafting down the hall as sharp as the candlelight that begin to wash into the darkened hallways. Laurel stopped, and her father turned to look at her questioningly. “You go on ahead, fielstra. I’ll be joining you momentarily.” She desperately did not want to be announced as she descended the steps to the ballroom, though it was proper tradition.

He nodded, then walked into the golden light of the ballroom, joining into the din of laughter and glasses clinking before him. Laurel quietly watched as the attendants shut the doors behind him, and they watched her expectantly. Laurel wrung her hands, biting her lip. Gods, this was going to be a disaster. Instantly she turned and flew into the closest washroom. The whispers surged forth from the back of her mind, taunting, lurid, and she shut her eyes as she desperately covered her ears to block them out.

…everyoneherebutyourealoneflyawayebesafe…

“Not now. I already have real people to be scared of in there.”

…crazyyourecrazynotcrazy...
Laurel clutched one of the small decanters of perfume left for the guests beside the sink, and vehemently hurled it at the closest mirror.

“Leave me the hell alone!!”

Incensed, she strode out of the lavatory, composing herself as she purposefully strode up to the doors and nodded to the attendants to grant her access. The golden atmosphere of the ballroom enveloped her, quelling her anger and stilling the turbulent thoughts fluttering through her mind. In awe, she slowly walked forward into the gala, and managed to find a small smile alighting her features as she took it all in, despite herself. Laurel had seen Euphemede do this countless times from her hiding place on the stairs; placing her hand on the railing, she bravely stepped forward, the bracelet dangling from her delicate wrist catching the light in a prism of stars. The fanfare arose again as she floated forward, and she summoned the image of her sister within her mind, descending the stairs in the sweep of grandeur and elegance, a masterpiece stepping from the confines of her canvas.

“The Honorable Lady Laureleiden of House Winte’Shrine, legatee of the House Winte’Shrine; Imperial Navy Ensign, Second Fleet, Annihilation.
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{One should never confuse duty for loyalty. One either purposefully serves, or serves a purpose.}

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p r o f i l e

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Kane
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Kane » 2011-07-17 17:46

The royal couple arrived fashionably late, and unannounced prior to the fact. Both intended measures to throw off any would-be assassin's plans. No one could miss it for the fanfares, the orchestra beginning to play the Imperial March, and the herald announcing "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Kane the First, Her Imperial Majesty Empress Ederlathh". A general murmur emerged in the audience, followed by a hushed silence and people lining up along their path to bow or kneel as they passed until they had assumed their seats on the ballroom dais. Numerous people of importance followed in their wake down the stairs from the second level at the back of the huge room, opposite of the entrance hall. More Sovereign Protectors than previously thought to exist silently marched lined with them, ceremonial but still highly functional weapons raised.

Grand Admiral Pellaeon, escorting his Force-sensitive Aide Miat Temm, ever the bachelor in public. It was an open secret that he had affairs in the past. One was with a New Republic spy named Hallena Devis. He had met her as far back as the Clone Wars and had an illegimite but acknowledged son with her. But he had never married. His reasons to take his aide to the ball were undoubtly tactical more than anything else. Rumours had it that Temm possessed some skill in the Force, and was able to help the Grand Admiral in unorthodox ways.

Grand Admiral Matt, on one of his rare public excursions away from background politics and diplomatic chores. The woman he escorted was a complete unknown to the public eye, but from this moment, countless gossips would take place regarding just who she was and just what role she played.

Grand General 'Rav' Runner, coming alone, as always. He was very much a background player these days. The rumous surrounding him were many as well. That he had lost most of his Force talent, had lovers in the past, and either was on an undercover mission for the Emperor or Grand Admiral Matt, tucked away from the Imperial court as a disfavoured, or that he had secluded himself by choice. Those were just the most prominent of the ever more outlandish claims being made. Fact was that he still held a commission in the Army High Command and was often seen at the Imperial Academy, instructing elite soldiers in personal combat and tactics, even training Royal Guards in the ways of the Force.

Grand General Dyartes, of the Second Imperial Legion and with notable fame from the liberation of N'Zoth, Zhina, and Tizon to name a few.

Grand General Sesslyn, of the Third Legion. He was an older man, more conservative than most, in full dress uniform with all of his medals and honours showing. His much younger wife was often considered a trophy, but sometimes, it was the woman behind the man who made him successful. Time would tell if this was the case with Sesslyn.

Admiral Rayhil, in the back. If it had not been for the Emperor usually being found aboard the Nemesis he would be in charge of the First Fleet. Now he was more relegated to a captain's duties, but he didn't mind. Even a low ranking commission in the First was usually considered a sign of prominence.

There weren't any fewer or less scandalous rumours going on about the royal couple themselves than the other guests, of course. But such rumours had little to back them up in the ways of known facts. Aside from a scant few appearances such as this, they had both lived secluded, away from prying eyes and possible threats. Ederlaath had always been a very private person, but during the Sarapin Memorial Service, she had proven herself to the public as both intelligent and politically capable. Emperor Kane had been much more secluded since his inauguration for unknown purposes. Most of what people knew of him was from his time as Supreme Commander, during which he had been both active and visible, although even then rarely seen at social gatherings. If anything, his elevated position had forced him to attend the public more.

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Seamus
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Seamus » 2011-07-17 20:06

"Sir, I'm going to need you to hand over your sidearm." The security guard said to Seamus inquiring about the DL-44 strapped to his hip. Seamus threw his arm around the bouncer and patted him on the chest with his free hand.

"I'll tell you what, I'll give it to you next time I come out." Seamus said, walking the security guard away from the door. Seamus looked at his squad, who all stood next to the door in their cleanly pressed class A uniforms or more commonly referred to as "Blacks" due to their color. His squad all moved into the door, and Seamus disappeared with them. The ball room was immense, 4 Hanging chandeleers lit up the room with help from candle styled lights hanging from the walls. In the center was the the orchestra which was at this point, the life of the party. The sounds of people congregating rang out through the hall mixed in with the soft sounds of the violins.

"I'm gonna need a drink." Seamus said under his breath as he scanned the room full of noblemen and women, most if not all, Seamus concluded haven't done a single day's hard work in their lives.

"Don't drink too much, last thing we need is you knocking out some king or whatever who thinks he's important." Cooly warned.

"Relax, It's me." Seamus mused.

"Yeah that's what I'm worried about." Cooly sighed.

Another group of soldiers were huddled around the bar, Seamus noted that their ranks were all either enlisted or Junior Officers no higher than captain. Seamus edged into his seat and ordered a glass of "Cheap" wine. "How'd you end up here?" The soldier next to him asked.

"Something about valor and duty." Seamus said. "I call it doing my job."

"Arkania?"

"Yup."

"You boys were on Arkania?" A suited figure asked as he approched. He shoved out his hand, Seamus shook it half heartedly. All the soldiers turned around and glared at the aristocrat. His face started to turn red as he was being pushed out of his comfort zone. "I..I saw it on the news...looked pretty bad." He said.

"Nice of you to be there." Seamus sneered. The Aristocrat's eyes went straight to his shoes, and he sunk a bit in his suit, and without saying anything walked off. Sending a few snickers and hushed laughs from the soldiers at the bar. Seamus finished his wine, and got another glass as some announcement happened. Seamus ignored it and continued joking and socializing with the soldiers at the bar about the finer things in life, such as whores, cheap booze, and the vast many superstitions involved in the game of "Dice".

The Imperial March rang out and hushed the entire ball room. After hearing the following announcement, Seamus shot up from his seat with the rest of the soldiers and saluted the Emperor and his wife as they walked into the ballroom, they were followed by Generals, Admirals, senators, and dignitaries, finally ending with what seemed like an army of the mysterious Royal Guard.

When everyone was seated the music resumed back to their previous score and everyone returned to their seats and and conversations. Seamus ordered another glass of Wine before leaving the rest of the soldiers who were talking about right handed vs left handed dice throwing. Seamus poked his head outside the door to look for the security guard when he determined it was all clear he walked outside.
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Tavish McFini
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Tavish McFini » 2011-07-17 22:19

McFini stood in a simple black tuxedo with a bow tie and gazed at all the people entering, unable to help but envy those who had been accompanied by their dates, girlfriends, mistresses, wives or whatever they wanted to claim. It seemed like a long time since he had seen Tavia and the void left in his heart hurt the more he thought about it. Despite the pain he felt, he maintained his usual polite and positive disposition if only to try and keep his mind off it as he greeted the various people who approached, shaking hands and introducing himself with a smile. Part of him would have rather not attended, McFini wasn't sure how long he could watch all the happy couples before the abyss dragged him in, but he had firmly established his reputation that people would have questioned his presence- or lack thereof- if he didn't at least make some sort of appearance.

With all the protection present, especially with the Emperor about, McFini's guard detail was temporarily reassigned to help protect the estate with the rest of the army and royal guard details. It figures, McFini sighed as he looked at the glass of whiskey he held in his hand, The one time I might be able to have an erstwhile date, she's busy with the rest of her peers watching over all of us from the distance.

When the Imperial March started to play, McFini saluted the Emperor and watched the massive procession of top brass who followed. I should probably be there, he chuckled to himself as he caught Pellaeon's and raised his glass to the Grand Admiral. Although, I never did like holding such a lofty appearance. It wasn't often he saw the Emperor, save for post-disastrous mission meetings but it was even rarer he saw him with the Empress. I see him a lot more than I see her... Unless I don't watch the charitable works holochannel often enough.

Walking over to the bar, McFini set his near empty glass down and waited for one of the three droids to top it off. "I don't suppose I could convince one of you to take the night off?"

"Negative sir," a black polished protocol droid replied in it's monotone voice, "We are under direct orders to not let anyone come behind the bar." With a bottle of whiskey in hand, it topped off McFini's drink.

With a sly smile, McFini dared to ask, "And what do you do if someone tries?" The lack of response didn't surprise the Grand Admiral, probably designed to prevent someone from trying to figure out what trick was up their metal sleeve. He didn't see any flamethrower modifications, but that didn't mean there wasn't something else even more deadly or humiliating to McFini if he decided to tempt fate. The Emperor must have had a hand in this, he mused as he glanced back over where Emperor Kane sat with one of alright-you-win looks.
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Aquila Slyphs
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Aquila Slyphs » 2011-07-17 23:00

So that's who hosted this party.

Aquila watched as a woman identified as Laureleiden descended down a set of stairs, a herald announced her title and position within the Federation. "I wish I could host events like these," Aquila sighed softly to Devan as she watched the woman reach the bottom step. Once again, her stomach knotted up. I have no nobility left...

Not that there was any to begin with...

A lot of unfamiliar faces entered the grand hall and, after recovering from the shock brought on by the sudden fanfare of the Imperial March, Aquila only recognized a couple of them, most notably, Emperor Kane as she had remembered the grand assembly she and Jack had attended. She was inches away from the Emperor as he acknowledged the two of them, back in the massive hanger, and never before had Aquila been so petrified by his commanding presence. Following suit with everyone else, she knelt down as the procession walked through, something she had been taught to do as a child. She noted that Devan remained standing, saluting the group as they passed.

Standing back up, she turned back to Devan, looking very ashamed and bashful as she whispered a question, "Who were some of those officers?" She felt horrible that, out of all of them, she really only knew of Grand Admiral Pellaeon and Emperor Kane.
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Laurel WinteShrine
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Re: The Midsummer Imperial Ball

Post by Laurel WinteShrine » 2011-07-17 23:49

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Laurel graciously accepted her father’s hand once more as she met him at the bottom of the stairs, a “You should see yourself, my dear. A vision, absolutely stunning.”
The pair had floated here and there to mingle with the various patygoers until a raucous group with dozens of their sons in tow ascended upon them like a murder of ravenous crows, and Laurel practically clung to her father in the swift assault.

Her mother bustled over in a cloud of her tulle and skirts, hastily offering her a glass of t’ill-t’ill and began introducing her to each and every single person present, as if she were handing out tidbits to dogs who whined and begged for more. Laurel’s free hand was taken and kissed a multitude of times as her face quickly broke out into an embarrassed flush, until she politely excused herself and ushered her mother off to the side and away from the din. Moro, I appreciate your concern, but I don‘t.. you don‘t have to go through all of this trouble, for goodness’ sake!” Her mother, undaunted, took another sip of her own glass of candy-colored liquor.

“Drink, dear! Whatever is the matter? Come, drink, and let what happen as it may! What do you think I am trying to do? Everyone has been dying to meet the young, mysterious, Imperial Navy Officer that has finally deigned to grace us with her presence! Coming down the staircase, you looked just like..” Her mother broke off, suddenly turning around to wave at the crowd present and Laurel was quick to snatch her hand down before she could beckon them over once more. Goodness, was her mother drunk?

Moro, I am very sure that you are going to get me as inebriated as politely possible and then betroth me off to the first male who glances in my direction.” Laurel snapped tersely as her mother smiled at her as if it were an endearing compliment. “Heavens, no!” Her mother chuckled. “…Your fielstra and I must approve of the gentleman, first!” The Ensign’s eyebrow twitched in irritation, and strode off toward the buffet tables. She had never been one to drink, but somewhere, anywhere away from these vultures would prove as a better reprieve. Her father was chuckling to himself as he watched her go, amused by his flustered daughter. He knew his wife could be rather…. Determined, for lack of a better word, at times.
“Dearest, where are you going? There are many more people that you must meet!”

…Perhaps a drink wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Laurel had been halfway across the polished floors when the Imperial March echoed across the ballroom, and she stopped dead in her tracks as the ballroom fell into reverent silence. She whirled around and dropped into a practiced curtsey as the Emperor and the Empress strode by, followed by a whole entourage of Officers and personal security following majestically in their wake. The Emperor himself, here? It was, after all, an Imperial Ball- what else was she expecting? Her parents went over to personally thank him for his honored appearance, both of them knowingly glancing back at their awestruck daughter, expecting her to do the same.

He is your Emperor, she chided herself. Don‘t be an ingrate, say something. Suddenly she felt eight years old again; She yearned to be back as the ghost at the head of the stairs, watching and knowing that this was a world that she had not meant to belong to, not yet.

Say something!

..and without a second thought, against her better judgment, the Officer lifted her skirts and practically ran from the ballroom and onto the balcony as a fresh wave of sheer panic consumed her, desperately hoping nobody had noticed.
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{One should never confuse duty for loyalty. One either purposefully serves, or serves a purpose.}

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