Footsteps- dozens of footsteps. Their sounds echoing through the stone caverns that carved their way through the halls of the massive estate. At first it was a dream- a daze as it were. When reality set in Lady Nhasaen sat up, her eyes wide, nostrils flaring. In the corner of the room she could see a half dressed silhouette rip a drawer from its niche in the wooden bureau. Wood splinters danced their way across the marble floor as the silhouette reached into the severed drawer and pulled out a pistol shaped item. Her brain registered the weapon as she instinctively reached under the bed pulling out her own. Her free hand slid along the length of the Kaleh's scabbard pulling it off; the jeweled sheath hit the floor with a noticeable 'thump' and slid away into the darkness.
Screams- dozens of screamed echoed through the halls as a loud crash shook the estate. An attack! But the alarms? Why had the alarms not sounded? The truth hit her almost immediately and the force of the realization nearly sent her barreling through the bed-chamber door in full fury. "We have been betrayed!" She screamed at her bond-mate who primed his disruptor "we must hurry, the servants!"
More shouts and the sounds of disruptors being let loose recklessly shook the walls. Her husband ran ahead of her and pulled the door open. Green flashes of lightning lit up the dark hall before them. He shouted and lifted his weapon. The Lady wasted no time- as he fired she leapt past him into the hall and extended her blade...
The midday orange-hot Eisn loomed over the city's towers casting thick long shadows that carved and curved their way across building faces and monuments alike. Kimara t'Cretak stood in front of the tinted windows of the Chief Praetor's office wearing an unperceivable expression as her amber eyes studied the scenery. Hundreds of flitters littered the skyways heading to destinations unknown to her- though she would often wonder. It was a relaxing mind game. In the distance curving around one of the larger towers she noticed a parade of elaborate black flitters- as they neared she could see the emerald emblem of the Galae boldly emblazoned on their bodies. She let out a slight huff at the sight. When a knock came at the door her hand flinched slightly as she was caught unaware. Kimara mentally chastised herself for the reaction but turned around to face the door unperturbed as she wondered what she was being bothered with now "what is it?" Her cool voice carried through the door like an arctic wind. Hopefully if it was some menial task the orderly would think twice of it at this moment.
The door burst open and as Kimara was set to let loose acrimoniously at the rudeness she stopped herself short upon noticing her 'guest.' A deep frown touched her carving caverns down through the edges of her lips. Standing before her was Argelian tr'Verelan- the irritating Galae'EnRiov she had inherited. His hawk-like features seemed to be chiseled in bronze as scars littered his face. A black eye patch covered his bad eye while the amber iris of his other stared at her. He seemed genuinely displeased. Though she disliked him she had to give him credit for his honesty. He seemed to study her for a moment and once the doors closed behind him he finally spoke "I have reinforced our presence along the neutral zone. It will give anyone in the Federation pause should they consider retaliation."
That was another thing Cretak respected. He was short and to the point. How she dreaded the ubiquitous platitudes so many were prone to. "A wise course." Her eyes shifted slightly to glance out the window at the flitters still on approach "they are not yours?" She wondered. It was an aside but she could not leave her curiosity unquenched.
"They are- however I chose a different route." Argelian said, his lone eye peering through the window at the approaching flitters. He didn't admit it but Cretak could hazard a guess about the precaution. While tr'Verelan held the post of Galae'EnRiov his support among the major clans and power brokers had been dwindling since tr'AAnikh's death. Without the old Praetor around it was only a matter of time before the Zorek attempted a power grab. It was wise to be careful. And I would be wise to remember that...
"I do not need to tell you that the timing of this incident is poor." She pulled her gaze away from the window and focused on her desk. She reached out with one hand and tapped the small console embedded in the desk's top. A dim emerald light illuminated several other controls beneath the desk's opaque obsidian and she slowly keyed in commands. The window behind her darkened until not even the thinnest sliver of light was able to pass through and at the same time the electric torches mounted on the office walls dimmed considerably. It was then, from the center of her desk, that a bright green emerald beam slid upwards until it touched the ceiling. When it did several other lines curved outward until finally a map of the Empire's western reaches had formed. A white haze dotted the border as three distinct spheres appeared and fully illuminated on the map "I have considered this dilemma all day. We cannot afford a conflict with the Federation at this juncture, but neither can they afford a conflict with us." She pointed to the spheres illuminated by the emerald light "we will deny claim on these three worlds in exchange for absolution in this matter."
His eye twitched as it studied the map- Argelian finally looked at Cretak whose worn olive features were a pale jade beneath the emerald lighting "Jouret, Ahuian, and Eridani?" He reached out and touched the holographic display letting the image fizzle around his hand "do you think the senate will agree to this?" His tone held skepticism "and will the Federation find such a exchange worthy of our absolution?"
"It is the simplest path for both." She stated tersely- the mere thought of having to negotiate with the lloann'mhrahel made her ill with contempt. They had played her for a fool decades ago bringing about her downfall in the Senate. She was barely able to escape a traitor's execution- there was still bitterness when she tasted their name. "If they refuse then I shall simply employ Hiren's famous ability to deny everything. Not our ships, not our people, simply a figment of the lloann'mhrahel imagination." Her eyes fell onto the Galae'EnRiov "and the senate- we have wasted too much time and resources on these worlds. Jouret had been plagued by resistance, Ahuian is a wilderness, and Eridiani has been nothing but a continuous headache. Be rid of them and be rid of this situation. If only the Tal'Shiar had not failed!"
"Did they fail?" Argelian asked skeptically, he still looked at Cretak who paused to ponder the significance of his statement. Did they fail? She wondered and then began to feel her own degree of skepticism surrounding the entire situation. "Had Sahen succeeded" Argelian continued as Cretak thoughtfully listened " Vulcan would have certainly been crippled by the virus. From what little information the Tal'Diann have gathered it would have been very likely that most Vulcan life on the planet would have been eradicated in a matter of days. While it may not have spelled doom for the lloann'mhrahel- it would have certainly been an unmitigated catastrophe for them. Did the Tal'Shiar not see the opportunity? I do not believe so. They are far to cunning for my tastes."
Cretak grimaced realizing the Galae'EnRiov's suspicion had merit. Such things were certainly not beyond the agency. A mental image of Koval crept into her mind causing her to shiver. If there was one regret she had, it was that she was not able to see the old head of the Tal'Shiar die. What a pleasure that would have been. With a slight sigh hidden beneath the tapping of her fingers Cretak turned off the projection allowing the room to illuminate once again "the agency is a matter beyond our approach."
Argelian's head simply nodded in agreement with the comment. A dull chirping sound cause his eye shift upward and then down as his hand reached to grab the communicator on his belt. He activated the device and slapped it onto the back of his wrist "I'm here." He said as Cretak watched.
"Galae'EnRiov. I have just received a disturbing report. One of the clan estates has been attacked."
Cretak's eyes widened as she wondered which clan. Argelian simply nodded his head and turned around "I will be there shortly." He replied and walked out of the office. Cretak stood silently wondering whether or not to disregard his rudeness, though she understood the veiled threat. He was still Galae'EnRiov and he who controls the Galae controls the Empire...