Template:PostIn CatH Post 21, Clear, Pully and Thrain argue over what to do with the now awake, since CatH Post 20, Princess Aurora Briarose. She shouts at them demanding that she requires a chair because of her illness. Captain Kraftlight is drawn by the shouts and the princess is arrested. Sometime later the three women attend a meeting aboard The Excellence in which they meet the negotiators for Algernon and the Rebel Alliance - three Æon Knights named Telkrin Izep, Kokoro Lymn and Ffion Heul. Strang engages in talks but he sees no value in their discussion as Telkrin informs Strang that they couldn't give him access to the remains of Algernon, which he wanted to mine. Just as he forcibly ended the talk one of his own guards attacks and kills him. The man requests Clear to help and she agrees. She convinces Pully to go along with them, sparing her life from Kiron. He reveals himself to be Kiron Nightstrider, a proud son of Algernon.
Pully: "What do we do about her?"
Pully: "You know, she is the enemy, right?"
Clear: "I'm not sure she's my enemy."
Princess Aurora: "Excuse me..."
Thrain: "You chose to join Warlord Strang, Ms Clear. You ought to start towing the line before you get yourself into further trouble."
Pully: "She's right. She wouldn't be outright executed anyway. Probably there'll be a lot of politics involved. She'll be some kind of bartering tool."
Princess Aurora: "Please, could somebody get me a chair?"
Clear: "It's not fair to just throw her to the mercy of a man that habitually executes unarmed persons."
Pully: "Rebels, Sir. They chose to become rebels."
Princess Aurora: "I'm right here, you know? A chair? Anyone?"
Pully: "She won't be executed. She'll just be interrogated."
Clear: "Oh, is that all?"
Pully: "You were interrogated, remember? Was it so bad?"
Clear: "He didn't really think I was a rebel."
Thrain: "I'm starting to doubt that."
Clear: "Well, maybe I would be a rebel if people get probed by the likes of you!"
Thrain: "Now, see here--!!"
Princess Aurora: "One of you motherfukers get me a fuking chair!!!!!"
The three of them stare at the princess.
Pully: "Wow. Pushy, much?"
Clear: "Maybe we should turn her in..."
Princess Aurora: "I am an invalid. I can't walk. I really need a chair. Please."
Pully: "What? Pull the other one!"
Princess Aurora: "Leg jokes, is it?"
Pully: "You're not disabled. I've seen you standing before. C'mon. Get on your feet!"
Pully grabs Princess Aurora.
Thrain: "You really shouldn't do that!"
Pully pulls the woman from her casket and stands her up. She lets go.
Princess Aurora slams hard to the floor with a cry.
Thrain: "I told you!"
Pully: "Oops? I thought she was faking!"
The doors then slide open and three stormtroopers march in, Turbo, sans helmet, at the lead. He looks at them all and then the woman on the floor.
Turbo: "What the Hell is going on here?"
Princess Aurora: "I'm a rebel princess! Please arrest me!! Save me from these nutters!!"
Some days later, Clear, Pully and Thrain are asked to attend a meeting. Clear looks at herself in a mirror. She'd been given a uniform. A uniform! She looks at it. She doesn't believe she is wearing it. She is just inside it and it is resting on her body. It is black and formal. They even gave her pips for a badge to tell others that she is a captain. She doesn't have a clue what it means. She's actually astounded that someone could so easily become a captain within a fleet - though owning your own, massive ship would probably help. She presses a button and the mirror fades to wall colour. She breathes deep and heads out of her dressing room aboard The Excellence and walks to the meeting room. It's an ovular room with a round table at the centre. Everything Imperial seems to be grey or black. The table is both. Pully is already seated. She looks weird in her ceremonial uniform. It's grey, also pipped and she has to wear a little corner hat that is tipped slightly to the side. Thrain is wearing her own clothes, albeit a formal suit of black. Clear sits next to Pully, with Thrain on Pully's other side. Opposite them are three people.
At the centre of two young women is a male. An alien male. His skin is green and scaled but he has large ears like a cat. He has four eyes, two human-like and shaped while the other two are positioned in his forehead and are much smaller. He is wearing a set of brown robes that hang loosely on his person. Around his neck is a necklace of green beads, each with a symbol etched into it. He appears quite serene and content, though Clear fancies that's a mask he wears to hide his true emotions. Unlike the older alien male, the young woman on his left appears discontent and twitchy. She drums her fingers on the table impatiently. Her hair is light brown and wildly curly. She has it tied in a messy toptail that causes her hair to spill down in curls, every-which-way. Only one strand of hair seems to be neatly kept in shape - a thin set of braids that hang about her left ear and are adorned with tiny, green beads much like smaller versions of those around the man's neck. Her skin is lightly tanned, as though she has spent a good deal of time in the sun, and her eyes are blue. She appears beautiful, but rugged and unpolished. Much as Clear feels she looks herself. The woman is wearing navy blue robes, though these are tighter to the body and seem to be of a shorter cut than the male's. The other woman was also dressed in a tighter and shorter-cut set of robes to the male, however hers were coloured a mix of white a beige. Her hair also, like the other woman, had a tri-set of small braids and green beads around her left ear. Although human, Clear thinks she looks peculiar. Her skin is white but also extra shiny. Like she is wearing a lot of make-up. Her features are striking, almost masculine because they're very angular, yet incredibly beautiful. Like what Clear imagines human goddesses to look like; perfect and still. Her hair is black and, like her skin, extra shiny. In fact Clear thinks it may be a wig. Her eyes seem the most creepy thing about her though as they stare, never blinking, with very light blue irises that look grey. She is as tranquil as the man and sits quietly. Staring.
Clear looks at the three of them and wonders. Their dress style could be a male-to-female fashion difference but she gets the impression that the male has some kind of authority over the two younger people. The brown-haired woman then yawns, leans back in her chair blows air through her mouth. Manners evidently aren't her strong suit.
Man: "Interesting to see a non-human wearing that uniform. Doesn't happen very often. But I suppose you're quite human-looking despite your colouration."
Clear frowns when she realises she's the one being spoken to. She sits awkwardly in her chair, unable to carry any sense of authority or, perhaps even, dignity.
Clear: "Human-looking!? I think humans look like Martians!"
The alien man laughs and nods good-naturedly.
Man: "I like that. I'll try to remember it. Humans are Martian-looking. And, assuming you're a Martian yourself, it's not untrue. Humans do look like white, black and yellow versions of you."
The brown-haired girl snorts and rolls her eyes. The man gives her a side-long glance.
Man: "You disagree, Student?"
Brown-haired Woman: "No. Actually I don't care. Why are you having small-talk with these people? They're the enemy!"
Man: "Now, now. They are not our enemy. We are mediators of politics, not politicians ourselves. We don't have sides in these disputes, we mediate them."
Brown-haired Woman: "Until these Imperials try to kill us for not bowing down to them."
Clear: "They're not really Imperials though."
The woman looks straight at Clear and folds her arms.
Brown-haired Woman: "You mean 'we', don't you?"
Clear: "Huh? Oh... right. Yeah... we aren't Imperials. I guess."
While the woman rolls her eyes, the man's smile broadens. In a strange way the smile reminds Clear of her own father's smile. The few things she can clearly remember, at least she could remember that smile. Eyes narrowing and a mouth growing broad across his face.
The doors slide open with a hiss and Warlord Strang enters. He is accompanied by two red-armoured individuals that Clear has never seen before. They're holding what look like metal pikes an stand either side of the doorway. Their helmets are longer than the stormtroopers' and their chest plate seems more intricate with parts and fastenings. They also have long black capes that almost touch the floor. Their visors are single, narrow slits straight across the helmet, unlike the much larger visors of the white stormtrooper helmets. Strang stands before his chair and waits. Princess Aurora is ushered into the room by two stormtroopers and her chair is pushed up beside Clear. She is shackled both about the wrists and the ankles, even though her legs don't work.
Man: "Were those restraints truly necessary?"
Strang seats himself and the two stormtroopers leave.
Strang: "Absolutely. You Æon Knights cannot be trusted."
The brown-haired woman spreads her arms and and looks at her mentor with 'I told you so' written on her face. The man, however, is undeterred.
Man: "I apologise that you've been made to feel this way, Warlord Strang, however I assure you that we have only honest intentions. We have been asked to mediate and act on behalf of Algernon for the release of Princess Aurora Briarose. Obviously they couldn't attend the meeting themselves, so you have only us. I am Telkrin Izep."
Strang: "That's a difficult name to pronounce."
For a brief instant Clear thinks she sees a flash of annoyance wash across the alien man's face.
Telkrin Izep: "That's my... English name. The shortened, condensed and more easily pronounced name. I use it so that humans can say it."
Strang: "I suppose anything foreign is going to be hard to pronounce properly, Terrin Ispep."
Clear feels it's very obvious that Strang is mispronouncing the name deliberately. She supposes he couldn't complain about her name since it was in English most of the time.
Strang: "A Muovinian and a yobbo. That's what the Æon Knights are producing these days?"
Ffion Heul: "Hey!!"
The brown-haired woman, Ffion Heul, begins to stand in anger but her mentor held her down by the shoulder. The two red-clad soldiers had taken several steps forward during the brief outburst but Strang holds a hand to them and they retake their positions.
Telkrin: "I don't think name-calling is going to get us very far with this negotiation, Warlord Strang."
Strang: "I don't much care if they do go far, Ipsod. I have the Princess and you want her. I only have everything, you have nothing. So I can say and do whatever I like and you have to accept whatever terms I dictate."
Telkrin: "Well then! Why don't we begin there? What do you want, Strang?"
Telkrin's four eyes blink. Ffion Heul frowns deeply with her face screwed up in a blatant expression of confusion that a child might do. Even the straight-faced Kokoro Lymn's unwrinkled brow lowers.
Telkrin: "Do you... mean the remaining debris field?"
Strang: "Exactly what I mean. All that remains are asteroids. Brimming with metals."
Princess Aurora: "What!? You can't be serious!!"
Strang: "Oh, but I am! Resource rich those asteroids. My little faction of space will become as rich as the Galactic Empire itself before long! And it sits fairly near my astro-borders. Very nice spot indeed."
Princess Aurora: "That's the grave of my people! The grave of my family! You'd go in there and desecrate that!?"
Clear instantly feels guilty. She understands Aurora's abhorrence and her anger and feels the same kind of sentiment for her own planet. And yet Clear had picked clean my bones on her own world, sold the treasures of her people and used their graveyard as her own scavenging paradise.
Strang: "Graveyard of your people, perhaps. But right now it's just space-dust and its a veritable opportunity. If I don't claim it now, someone else will before long. The Galactic Empire, issuing its rise back to power or one of other other Warlords. Perhaps even the Rebel Alliance will realise it could use those resources and win its war. Someone will use it, my dear, and I intend for that someone to be me."
Telkrin: "I'm not sure I'm authorised to grant you an entire section of space, Strang..."
Strang: "Then I guess this conversation is at an end."
Telkrin: "Surely there is more you desire, Warlord Strang? You are eternally locked in a war with your former masters, just as the Rebel Alliance is. You could get a non-aggression treaty from the Rebel Alliance and focus your attention on your real enemy?"
Strang laughs. It's an arrogant and high-pitched kind of cackle that grates Clear's ears.
Strang: "The Rebel Alliance is a joke. With the Galactic Empire on the back-foot, most people wonder what the point of your little band is! People are going home! Back to their lives and deserting your little movement. Leaving the power vacuum for those strong enough to grab it. There's only one thing you rebels can give me and that's Algernon. If you don't give it, I could take it. Then I'd have all those riches and your princess. But it would be more cost-effective to be given the asteroid field and, honestly, I have no use for this woman otherwise. If I'm forced to take the field, I'll dispose of her afterwards."
Telkrin leans forward, resting his chin upon clasped hands. He looks at Strang intently and the Warlord looks back.
Telkrin: "Even for the princess, I don't think the Rebel Alliance could grant this request. There are still many natives of Algernon out there and though they, I'm sure, love their princess... They would not wish to see their home churned up and turned into fuel for your ships."
Strang: "When I have taken that field I shall send your princess' head to you in a box."
Warlord Strang stands up.
Then the room becomes a state of chaos. There is a sudden cry and blood sprays across the room, just enough to grab Clear's attention to the men at the door. One of them falls to his knees as blood spurts from the small crack between helmet and chest plate. After that initial spurt when the weapon was withdrawn, the rest is now spilling down the front plate. The other red soldier is holding the offending weapon.
The three Æon Knights leap to their feet and brandish magnificently glowing weapons that resemble swords of blue energy. However they don't attack, they appear on the defensive and just as confused as Clear. Clear is also on her feet and Pully shoves her back, coming between the red guard and the red-skinned woman. But the guard doesn't look at Pully, Clear or Thrain. He runs at Strang.
Strang: "No! Stop!! Stop!!!!"
The pike the man had had split into two thin blade, separated by the middle to become two weapons. The soldier slams one of those blades into Strang's stomach. The sound horrifies Clear.
Strang: "Not... like this..."
The soldier takes one step back, admires his handiwork, then plunges the other blade into Strang's forehead. Thrain screams, the most effeminate thing Clear has ever heard from the woman, and this makes Clear likewise cry out with horror. The man pulls off his helmet to reveal a heavily tanned face with short-cropped black hair. He appears to be what people on Earth call Hispanic and his face is complete with a thick layer of stubble. He finally looks at the three Æon Knights but simply passes over them until he sees Pully, Clear and Thrain. He points at them.
Soldier: "I know the alien was pressed into service. I ask you, red-skin, were you loyal to the dead man here?"
He motions to the dead body on the floor.
Clear: "Not at all."
Soldier: "Then you'll help me. I escape, you escape, the princess escapes. We all get out of here. You, civilian--"
Thrain: "I'll do whatever you say!"
Soldier: "That just leaves this lapdog."
Pully: "Just try it, punk."
Clear puts herself between Pully and the soldier.
Clear: "She's with me."
He looks over Clear's shoulder and, though hesitantly, Pully nods in confirmation. The man points to the hovering chair of the princess.
Solider: "Take her. What was your name? The fat fool didn't bother to introduce his own people."
Clear: "Clear. That's Thrain and this is Pully. We should move now. That screaming must have someone on alert by now."
Soldier: "Good. Knights. You're with us, right?"
Telkrin: "I don't think you've left us with much of a choice..."
Soldier: "I apologise for that. I didn't see any better opportunity. He was alone and I now know he never intended to release the princess alive. I'm Kiron Nightstrider. Proud son of Algernon. I'm at your service, your Highness."