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Template:PostIn CatH Post 47 Clear, Kokoro Lymn and Ace Lander are searching for the missing Kiron Nightstrider in the Green House. They come across a guard who refuses access even to Lander, who is a captain in the Rebel Alliance. Lymn uses her Force powers to manipulate the guard's mind and grant them access. They find Nightstrider trapped in a room behind a forcefield and he tells them that Princess Aurora Briarose is in grave danger. With several guards, Lander heads to the governors' meeting where he places Governor Oit under arrest for the conspiracy to murder Aurora. Oit admits that he tried to have Aurora killed by speeding up her disease so that sympathy would bring more supporters to the rebel cause and away from The Empire. Aurora feels she cannot publicly try Oit, however, as it would reverse all support for the Alliance. Instead she has him exiled but she is distraught by the betrayal. Ultimately The Hopeful is then bound for Oeurwoud and Clear must say goodbye to Aurora.

Post

Uncovered

Guard: "I'll have to ask you to stop there."

Lander: "I'm Captain Lander--"

Guard: "Sorry Sir. Doesn't matter who you are. I can't allow you access."

Lander: "On whose authority?"

Guard: "The government, Sir."

Lander: "That's vague..."

Guard: "Sorry Sir."

Ace purses his lips and eventually turns away. Clear and Kokoro follow him. They had followed Kokoro's directions until they came to the guards.

Lander: "Well that's suspicious."

Clear: "Shouldn't there be lots of restricted places in a building like this?"

Lander: "Not from me, no. Usually anyway."

Lymn: "This is the only way through?"

Lander: "Unless you want to break through the floor above..."

She turns back to the guards and waves her hand.

Lymn: "You will grant us access."

Guard: "We will grant you access."

The guards stand aside.

Lymn: "You make the Alliance proud."

Guard: "We make the Alliance proud."

Kokoro nods towards the doors and passes between the guards. With some uncertainty, Clear and Ace follow her. When they pass into the next corridor, Ace closes the doors and then lets out a sigh of relief.

Clear: "Please don't do that to me, Kokoro..."

Lymn: "I told you before, you're not so weak-minded."

Lander: "It concerns me that we could be infiltrated so easily."

Lymn: "Easily? Are you undermining my ability?"

Lander: "Uh, no! I didn't mean--"

Lymn: "Just joking, Captain. It's one thing to affect the minds of two lone guards, it'd be another to affect the minds of the entire Alliance. Having said that... maybe you should be worried, yes."

They pass down the corridor with the expanse of the city to their right, looming outside of the glass panes. Everything else about the corridor was pure white and smooth like plastic. Along the walls grow vines decorated with flowers that look like roses. Clear wonders if Green is enjoying the place where she is. Finally Kokoro points to a set of double-doors, as white and as plastic as the rest of the place. When Ace reaches out to push them open, however, his hands meet a blue force field. He raps his knuckles on it and blue wave ripple outwards until they fade away to invisibility again.

Lander: "That is fairly exotic tech..."

Clear: "Any other way in?"

Lander: "Fancy scaling the outside of the building?"

Clear: "That's a no then."

Then there's a crash from the other side of the doors and they rattle violently. They stand and watch and wait. The doors smash and rattle again.

Clear: "I think someone's trapped in there."

Lymn: "Points if you can guess who..."

Clear: "Kiron! Is that you!?"

Clear pounds on the force field. A moment later they can hear Kiron Nightstrider from within.

Nightstrider: "Is-is that Clear?"

Clear: "It is. We've come to knock the living daylights out of you."

Nightstrider: "You'll have to let me out of here first!"

Clear: "Why are you in there?"

Nightstrider: "Is the Princess with you?"

Clear: "Not here but she's in the Green House. She's with the governors."

Nightstrider: "She's not safe here, especially not with them!"

----------

Clear walks behind the guards. They march in two lines - six in total. Clear isn't sure if that's enough but Ace wants to keep this quiet. At the head of the guards is Ace himself. When they exit the lift they're immediately in a huge conference room decorated with Autumn tones - maroon carpets, brown walls and nature-inspired lighting. At the centre of the room is a large oval table where Aurora and the other crew members of The Hopeful are sat with several governors. They all stand when Ace barges in, except Green who just stares with wide eyes.

Governor Oit: "What is the meaning of this!?"

Lander: "Princess Aurora, please step away from the governor."

Princess Aurora: "What? Why?"

Instead of the princess moving away from the governor, he steps back instead. His head rainbow-coloured head hands low and Clear is sure she can make out sorrow on his strange face. The guards come over and separate the governors from the rest of the group. They all comply. Some look defiant, others looks resigned while one or two of them look bewildered.

Princess Aurora: "Captain Lander... you best have a good explanation for this."

Clear: "Kiron is here, Aurora."

Princess Aurora: "So... the governor was mistaken? That's why he's being herded at gunpoint?"

Governor Oit: "I'm sorry, Governor Briarose."

Lander: "I don't think sorry quite covers it, Governor Oit."

Aurora's quick temper flares up and she snaps with a fist slam against the air.

Princess Aurora: "Someone better fuc-- explain this! Now!"

Clear: "They're the ones that tried to kill you, Aurora. Governor Oit was the ring leader."

The princess blinks at Clear in surprise as her brain struggles to process this. She tilts her head and then shakes it.

Princess Aurora: "That's not possible. Kiron told you this? You're going to believe him?"

Governor Oit: "There's no use us denying it now. The truth can be proven under interrogation of Nightstrider. If I had dealt with him sooner, this wouldn't have become a problem. But I didn't expect you to return..."

Princess Aurora: "You... admit it? Why!?"

Governor Oit: "For the good of the Alliance..."

Princess Aurora: "Am I... a threat to the Alliance, Governor?"

Governor Oit: "On the contrary... your demise would rally people against the Empire. Recruitment has waned significantly since the Empire broke up, people believing that the war is won. If they were to discover that the beautiful, young princess of a destroyed world were assassinated by Imperials... perhaps that will still happen."

Lander: "Not bloody likely now."

Princess Aurora: "He's... right. Release him."

Lander: "Wh-what!?"

Princess Aurora: "Governor Oit, you are relieved of office. The remaining governors will be interrogated and his accomplices will also be relieved of their duties. All of you will then be sent into exile."

Governor Oit: "Of course..."

He bows his head.

Lander: "Your highness, I don't understand! They need to be tried and imprisoned for this!"

Princess Aurora: "I should think a man of your station would understand politics a little better, Captain Lander!"

Lander: "You'll have to enlighten me, your highness. I'm more familiar with law and justice."

Princess Aurora: "Governors of the Alliance tried to kill me... imagine the public reaction against the Alliance. It could destroy us..."

Lander: "But--"

Princess Aurora: "But I demand the cure for the exhilarated process."

Governor Oit: "Easily done."

Clear: "Aurora... are you sure you want to let them go like this?"

Princess Aurora: "I... have no choice..."

Governor Oit: "For the good of the Alliance..."

Pully: "If you wanted to kill Aurora, why the heck did you do it this way? Why not just shoot her!?"

Governor Oit: "We considered that approach but a slower death would allow her time to rally more people. Give some kind of final speech. People could watch her wither and fail. A tragic and drawn-out death to pull the hearts of people everywhere. Any people from Algernon still within the Empire would surely turncoat and join us. The Alliance would be stronger than ever."

Princess Aurora: "I understand... and yet, I won't have a government based on such evil methods. Guards, ensure he's on a ship within the hour and send him to the furthest reaches of the galaxy where I won't be tempted to change my mind."

The guards usher the colourful governor out of the room and into the lift, along with the other governors who mostly comply though several exclaim their innocence.

Princess Aurora: "Kiron told you all of this? Where is he?"

Lander: "Trapped downstairs. I'm sure on of the governors can give us the access codes to the force field they have him trapped behind. He learnt of these plans days ago and was trying to get proof. It seems Kiron's intentions became known but Governor Oit--"

Princess Aurora: "Former governor..."

Lander: "Right... he intended to ensure Kiron found no proof but when he learnt you were returning he quickly had Kiron imprisoned, fully intending to kill him later."

Princess Aurora: "He didn't want to risk a raucous hours before I got here..."

Lander: "Exactly."

Clear draws close to Aurora who appears visibly shaken.

Clear: "Are you sure this is how you want to do things?"

She looks up at Clear with watery eyes.

Princess Aurora: "No. I'm not sure of anything. I... have to do what's best for the Alliance, not for me."

Clear isn't really sure how to comfort Aurora. She crouches, reaches out and pats her on the shoulder. The princess falls into Clear and cries into the salmitton's neck. Clear instead pats the human's purple hair.

Princess Aurora: "The universe... is an unfair place. Not everyone always gets what... they deserve."

Clear doesn't know how Aurora can do it. Clear herself wants to beat the Hell out of Governor Oit but the princess, who was the victim and betrayed, stands above her anger. At the best of times Aurora snaps, growls and stamps her foot. But here, an event that should have peaked her rage, the woman keeps it all in. For an ideal. Something greater than herself.

Clear wraps her arms around her human friend.

Clear: "You're the strongest person I've ever met, Aurora."

Princess Aurora: "I don't feel it..."

Clear: "But you act it."

Lander: "Your Highness. You make me proud to be a true son of Algernon."

Clear and Aurora look up at him and he salutes, though Clear is sure he's also on the verge of his emotions. Clear wishes there was some great leader from Mars she could be proud of, someone to remember her home with.

Princess Aurora: "And Clear. I heard about Kiron's dream..."

Clear: "I--"

Princess Aurora: "I know you didn't do it. And if you tell me The Hopeful couldn't be responsible... I believe it. That old ship has felt more like a home to me over these past weeks than... anywhere else in the galaxy."

Clear: "Aurora... now I think I might cry."

Aurora laughs through her tears.

----------

Two days later Clear stands in the Command Centre aboard The Hopeless. Pully walks in and sits on one of the audience chairs, her feet up on the headrest of the seat below.

Pully: "So. Everything ready?"

Clear: "Yes."

Pully: "Said your goodbyes to Aurora?"

Clear frowns at Pully's tone. She turns.

Clear: "Are you... jealous, Pully?"

Pully: "Wow. Full of yourself ain't you? You think I'd be jealous of your friendship with someone else?"

Clear: "Aren't you?"

Pully shrugs.

Pully: "A bit."

Clear: "Pully..."

Clear rolls her eyes and laughs.

Pully: "I just don't like her. That's why I'm jealous."

Clear: "Sure, sure."

Pully: "Just jump already."

Clear: "Ready to go, Mother. To Oeurwoud we go."

Mother: "Do not forget we must visit Mirare afterwards."

Clear: "I don't need you to remind me that, Mother."

Pully: "Mirare? What for?"

Clear: "Aurora's cure is there. That's where the poison came from. And I want a new jump drive."

Pully: "About time! Let's get this bucket moving! Oeurwoud and then new jump drives!"

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