Template:PostIn CatH Post 29, Clear and her crew have decided to go to a bar in District Sewe. Kokoro Lymn states that she loves going to bars, not for drinking but for people watching. She uses her soul-channelling to convince a man to rethink his terrible life and a moment later Ffion Heul has thrown someone through a table. All fun and frolics in their minds. Kiron, however, has had a request from Princess Aurora to attend her as she has had a death threat and cannot trust anyone around her. Clear decides to go with him. They board the monorail to District Vyf. The planet suddenly comes under attack from Stardestroyers and their monorail is derailed just as it reaches the station. Sue'sand Dienhand, new Warlord that has taken over from Deonal Strang, demands Kiron to be turned over to her or the world is forfeit. With the Rebel Fleet attacking Dienhand's holdings, as of CatH Post 28, nobody can stop her. When they reach the Green House and Aurora, Kiron says he will give himself up, much to the agreement of Governor Oit. Clear, however, believes that they could outrun her in The Hopeful and the warlord would give chase. As they make to leave, Aurora is hit by a strange dart from an assassin.
Clear: "I really don't think this is a great idea."
Clear is wearing blue. Blue is not her favourite colour. The clothes are also much tighter to her body than she is used to. The gold circlet about her forehead is also extreme by her tastes. However she was convinced by the others that she ought to 'dress up' this way for a night out. A night drinking in a bar in District Sewe. Drinking would be a great idea. Bars are also great. But drinking, in a bar while dressed in a weird blue outfit with a crown stuck to her forehead seems like a nightmare come true.
Heul: "Relax. It'll be great. I love bars. Greatest invention in the galaxy."
Lymn: "You look fine, Clear. Stop worrying."
Even Kokoro and Ffion are out of uniform. They are wearing similar outfits to her own, except Ffion is in yellow and white while Kokoro is in all black. Kokoro's outfit is especially form-fitting in a way that Clear couldn't possibly pull off herself without blushing eternally.
Green didn't want to go. She was afraid of the bar and she didn't like being outside during the night very much. So she stayed at the hotel, along with Thrain who refused to 'debase herself in such a den of scum and villainy'.
Unlike the other women, Pully's outfit isn't as form-fitted as the other three women's and yet she was certainly more on show. It is mostly black but has trims of pink that literally glows in the dark. She wears a headdress that frames her face in glowing neon pink too, though it isn't as bright as the pink trim of her clothes. Kiron is wearing another entirely black suit that Clear can see isn't the same as his others, and yet anyone less observant may have thought it is the same suit. Kokoro leads the way towards the bar's doors. The buildings of District Sewe are much smaller than those of District Sestian, tough they still seem like towering monoliths to Clear. The bar is located central to the whole building and a single causeway leads from a centralised area to the bar's doors which are lit by great red and yellow neon lights. People are staggering out even as people jovially hurry in.
Lymn: "I do love bars. They're great places to watch people."
Clear: "Watch people?"
Lymn: "That's right. People are fascinating to observe. And bars are filled with many, many different people."
Clear: "That's a strange hobby you have, Kokoro."
Kokoro opens the bar doors and, instantly, a man lands on the floor in front of them. A strong human woman stands over him. She looks up at Clear and Kokoro before apologising and picks the man up by his collar. She then thumps him again, this time out of the way of the door.
Lymn: "A lively night!"
Clear: "Wow. I usually get drunk to have a good time, not to get punched in the face."
At the far end of the room there is a band playing a tune with strange brass instruments she's never heard before. Ffion insists that they play the same bloody tune in all the bars close to Terra Flux. Kiron and Ffion go to get the drinks in while the others got a table. Clear sits herself so that she can see the bar, as does Kokoro, while Pully doesn't seem to care much.
Pully: "I kind of like this place, to be honest."
Lymn: "No surprise. What's not to like?"
Clear: "The violence? The danger? The crazy people?"
Then the three of them fall quiet as a shifty-looking man approaches them. He sits at the table with a grin and with the flash of his hand he shows them a can.
Clear looks dubiously at the can, which is as red as her own skin. Clear then notices Kokoro wiggle her fingers at the man before speaking calmly.
Lymn: "You don't want to sell me coke."
Seller: "Actually, I don't want to sell you coke."
He puts the can away and Clear watches with her jaw wide.
Lymn: "In fact, you want to go home and rethink your life."
Seller: "In fact, I want to go home and rethink my life."
Lymn: "And you should buy some flowers to brighten up your apartment."
Seller: "And I think I should buy some flowers to brighten up my apartment."
Lymn: "Look for a real job, save money and live a healthy lifestyle."
Seller: "Look for a real job, save money and live a healthy lifestyle."
Lymn: "Goodbye ladies."
Seller: "Goodbye ladies!"
The man gets up an leaves. Clear stares at Kokoro.
Clear: "What did you just do?"
Lymn: "Nothing. Just gave the man a little encouragement to become a better person."
Clear: "Can you do that... have you done that to me!?"
Lymn: "Relax, Clear. It would only work on the weak-minded. And you are not weak-minded."
Clear: "How do you know I'm not weak-minded? Have you tried!?"
Lymn: "No I haven't. To go through everything you have, you couldn't possibly be weak-minded."
Clear slumps back in her chair.
Clear: "Not sure I like you going round changing people. I think everyone deserves free-will."
Lymn: "He has free-will. But now he has direction."
Suddenly another man lands on their table, breaking it into pieces. The three of them jump up in shock and turn to face the man's attack. It's Ffion. She extends her hand and the man begins to float in the air, rising up from the table. With the flick of her wrist the man goes flying out of the doors of the bar.
Barman: "Oi! You Æon can't come in here and start trashing the place whenever you feel like it!"
Heul: "If you had a better class of clientèle, I wouldn't have to trash the place!"
Clear: "Wow. We haven't even started drinking yet and you guys are causing trouble."
Lymn: "Did I mention that I love coming to bars?"
Pully: "I'd rather be drinking than giving idiots life-lessons."
Lymn: "Well now the parameters have been set, nobody will mess with our table. Once you throw your weight around a little, the weaklings will back off."
She moves to the next table as a droid hovers over to clean up the mess.
Nightstrider: "I have to go."
Lymn: "I didn't think we were being that bad!"
Nightstrider: "It's not that. I just got a call from the princess."
Clear: "Is she alright?"
Pully: "She probably needs somebody to help powder her nose..."
Kiron scowls at Pully but doesn't rise to the bait.
Nightstrider: "She's received a death threat."
Nightstrider: "She's fine! For now. But the message was from an internal terminal. So it's someone inside the government. Could be a politician, a security guard, a cook, a cleaner, or even one of her own bodyguards."
Pully: "Which is why she wants you. Someone outside the system that she can trust to be a loyal lapdog."
Nightstrider: "Her life is in danger and you make jokes!?"
Pully just shrugs, but Clear is sure the was a flash of remorse on her face before she covers it over with nonchalance.
Lymn: "You should go. I hope she'll be safe. Is there anything we can do to help?"
Nightstrider: "Thanks for the offer but I doubt they'd let a whole group of people just start wandering around government buildings."
Clear: "What about just one extra person? I could go with you as a second bodyguard."
Kiron hesitates but then nods.
Nightstrider: "If you'd like to, sure. I could use the backup."
Pully: "We'll just sit here and twiddle our thumbs then!"
Heul: "Oi, Kiron! You were supposed to help me carry the drinks!"
She places three pints of mysterious liquid on the table.
Heul: "Eh? You kidding me?"
Clear: "Sorry Ffion."
Kiron heads to the door and Clear goes to follow. Then she stops and runs back to the table. She grabs the nearest pint of blue liquid and downs it quickly. Ffion stares at Clear with horror.
Heul: "You are going to be really sick in the morning."
Clear: "Barely touched the sides!"
She runs out.
The monorail is fairly empty. Not a lot of people travel from District Sewe to District Vyf. And certainly not a lot of people travel there during the night hours. Only those unfortunate enough to be working the graveyard shift would be on their way there. District Vyf has nothing in the way of entertainment or shopping. Only offices and government buildings. The monorail is a long, sleek machine and holds many windows to view the incredible cityscape outside as they sped by. Clear is fascinated by the view when something catches her eye in the sky. A large capital ship hangs there. Then her PIP vibrates. An incoming call from Wai aboard The Hopeless. She wonders why he'd be calling her now when suddenly there's a loud 'thoom'. She looks out of the window to see large bolts of energy whizzing through the air and striking the surface of the planet. The capital ship is a large wedge shape and clearly an enemy of the Rebel Alliance. Then another ship grows ever larger as it approaches the planet's orbit and starts bombarding the world. Then another. And another. The planet Dacato is under attack. Then a laser bolt strikes the rail.
It hit the metal track somewhere behind the train itself, yet the vibration causes the carriage to rattle wildly. The track begins to topple over behind them, like one long line of linked dominoes.
Clear: "Oh bollocks. We're fuked."
Nightstrider: "We're almost at the station!"
The rail bends and breaks beneath the train as it slows down to come into the station. Just as the train reaches the platform, the rail gives way. The machine crumples and falls - but only a short way as it rests in the lane of the station. Clear is thrown against the window, which is luckily shatter-proof. The world spins as her head adjusts but she's sure that she's unharmed. Kiron is on his feet before she is. He pulls out a stick - one half of his dual-bladed separable staff. He ignites the hard-laser and jabs the door jamb. In moments he has it open. Clear climbs up after him and they emerge onto the empty platform. If anyone had been there, they likely ran for it when the energy bolts started. The world shakes as one such bolt strikes a building somewhere near to the station.
Nightstrider: "We should get to the Green House. That's the main political hub here on Dacato. It's where the princess is."
Clear tries her PIP communicator but it seems to be jammed. So much for newfangled technology. They run through the station, which is open-aired and gives Clear an excellent view of the bringers of death above them. They pass along several walkways where only a few people are found running in the opposite direction to them. She hopes the others are safe.
Then the Green House comes into view through the window of their causeway. She had expected a literally 'green' building, however it wasn't named for the colour but for its function. Entirely made of glass, even at a distance, it is clearly filled with plant life. One tree she can see is at least several storeys tall, possibly almost as tall as the monstrous trees of Oeurwoud. They continue on until they're finally inside the building. Nobody seems to be present in the lobby so they go for the lift. Clear is surprised that the building hadn't been hit yet. She imagines it must be an obvious target.
Clear: "Who's attacking?"
Clear: "You mean this is my fault!?"
Nightstrider: "Don't think that way. I killed him, not you. But no, I don't blame myself. I blame Strang and those like him."
The lift dings to a stop and they step out. Right into a wall of guns. They fling their arms up.
Nightstrider: "We come in peace!"
Princess Aurora: "Wait! Let them through! I summoned them here!"
The guards lower their weapons and the two of them are permitted into the room. It's circular and at the centre is a circular hole that allows the growth of a tree through it from the floor bellow. Light streams down on them from artificial sources, creating the illusion of daylight.
Princess Aurora: "I'm glad you came. Both of you. I can't believe this is happening. To think I asked you here for my sake and now the entire planet is at risk."
Nightstrider: "Don't let down your guard, your Highness."
Princess Aurora: "What do you mean?"
Nightstrider: "This would be the perfect opportunity for your assassin to strike. The chaos, the confusion. Everyone looking out, not in."
Princess Aurora: "You think the assassin may be cooperating with the enemy outside?"
Nightstrider: "It's possible."
Clear: "Would explain why they haven't got this building yet."
Kiron looks at Clear, then at Aurora.
Nightstrider: "We should get you out of here."
Princess Aurora: "But--"
Nightstrider: "Your Highness, you're no use to anybody dead."
Clear: "Just get us to a shuttle and I'll fly us out of here."
The princess hesitates for a long while but eventually caves. She turns her chair and heads for a lift at the far end of the room.
Princess Aurora: "Everyone, we should abandon the Green House and fortify the defence towers. One hit and this building comes down. It's a miracle we're not dead already. Everyone, move out and stay alive!"
The soldiers and politicians all begin heading fort he exits. Clear sees Governor Oit waddling along, his rainbow skin glowing brightly under the artificial light of the room. He, and several others, follow princess Aurora into the lift.
Governor Oit: "We have a message incoming from the attackers, Lady Aurora."
He motions to an aide, who then activates a screen in the lift. The screen lights up to reveal a stern-looking woman wearing Imperial formal attire. She has light brown hair that is pulled tightly back into a ponytail. Her eyes are blue, her skin white and otherwise she is unremarkable. Yet she seems to have a presence, an aura, that is commanding and somehow menacing.
Woman: "People of Dacato. I have ceased bombarding your world for now. That was merely a display of what is to come ten-fold unless my single condition is met. I want the traitor that murdered Warlord Strang. This was not a heroic act. You will not be sacrificing a noble soul. The individual is a cold-blooded murderer that killed our leader in the middle of a peace negotiation with Æon Knights to release your beloved Princess Aurora Briarose. He is a debased human that needs to be tried as a murderer. Until justice is served and the man is in our custody, we will continue to bombard your world. Your fleet isn't here to protect you. They will be too late to save you. Give us the traitor and you will live."
The video stops and then replays.
Governor Oit: "Her name is Sue'san Dienhand. A general under Warlord Strang. She's won his seat apparently."
Nightstrider: "There's only one solution to this. I'll take the shuttle alone and surrender to Dienhand. She's cold-hearted but I know she'll leave as soon as she has me. She doesn't want to face your fleet. She's obviously let your fleet launch their attack on whatever planet they headed for before jumping here. She'll avoid engagement for now. But she'll destroy whatever she can so long as she has to stay here."
Clear: "You can't just give yourself over to her!"
Governor Oit: "Yes he can and he will. One life is not worth the billions of lives on this planet. I commend your actions, Kiron Nightstrider. If you should survive your ordeal, you shall be richly rewarded should we cross paths again. If you are tried and executed, then take comfort and know you will be considered a martyr by the people of the rebellion."
Clear: "What? You can't just give up like this! We can run!"
Nightstrider: "And sacrifice all of the people on this planet?"
Clear: "If she really wants you and you alone, she'll follow us! We get to The Hopeless and she'll pursue us! It's the only way to guarantee the safety of the people here. Once you're captured, what's to stop Dienhand from continuing to bombard us until the fleet arrives? The best option is to lead her away."
Nightstrider: "Then you'll be risking your life and your ship, Clear."
Clear: "I'm confident we can make a run for it. If there's one thing I've found The Hopeless is good at, it's running away."
Nightstrider: "That might not be all she's good at..."
He taps his chin.
Nightstrider: "It's worth a shot. I think it might be safer for everyone on Dacato if Dienhand chases us away from the planet."
The lift doors opened.
Princess Aurora: "So it's agreed we return to The Hopeful?"
Governor Oit: "I hope you know what you're doing. If this backfires and billions die, their deaths are on your heads..."
Nightstrider: "I understand. But, your Highness, I don't think you should come with us. It's not exactly safe."
Princess Aurora: "It's not safe h--!"
She stops and glances round before glaring at Kiron, expecting him to understand her meaning.
Clear: "Okay, Aurora is coming with us. I need to contact the others and get them aboard The Hopeless too."
Princess Aurora: "You can use my secure channel. If you're using standard communications, Dienhand is probably blocking or intercepting them."
She leans over and types in a command to Clear's PIP. After everyone else has left the lift, they leave too.
Governor Oit: "I do wish you luck, Lady Aurora. I think we all need it."
Princess Aurora: "I hope we have it t-- ouch!"
She pulls a hand from her /neck to reveal a long needle. She stares at it wide-eyed before passing out. Clear looks up to a tier of the Green House above to see a figure quickly retreat from view.
Nightstrider: "An assassin! After him!"
Clear: "No! We don't have time! Dienhand, remember!?"
Clear checks Aurora's pulse.
Clear: "She's alive. We should get her to Thrain."
Governor Oit: "Surely we should take her to a proper medical facility here in District Vyf!?"
Clear: "And give the assassin a second chance?"
Governor Oit: "Very well. Take my shuttle. It's quite fast. I've had it modded many times over. Here's the access code."
He swipes his tendril over Clear's PIP and the governor's PIP sends the code over instantly. Kiron pushes the princess' hoverchair and Clear can't help but wonder why the assassin used a dart instead of a laser or even a bullet...
"The guy selling 'coke' is a small joke on the use of the word coke to mean both Coca-Cola and the drug, cocaine. However the scene is also a reference to the bar scene in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones[Ext 2]. I wanted to give the post a 'disaster movie[Ext 3]' feel as Kiron and Clear try to escape the monorail crash and the laser attacks on the city. I also wanted to increase the level of mystery around Aurora and the events that seem to be revolving around her." - Britt the Writer