The meeting with Thraxus gets a little tense
, with Metri openly taking issue with dismissive Thraxus’ treatment and several of the rest of you silently (or openly) agreeing with him. Most of the rest of you either say little or adroitly manage to take themselves out of the conversation (a la Sorrenson).
Metri wrote:"By your admission, of great importance are the missions you send us. Friends, comrades, family, sacrificed we have at the altar of the greater good. Treat us like hired help to be dismissed at a whim, fine. But honor you will, the fallen. Owe them we do our lives. Owe them you do, the results. Take care not to waste our time and waste yours we will not."
Thraxus glances idly back at the Yhabbayar, staring silently at Metri from his throne in the bleachers for a long enough interval for things to feel distinctly uncomfortable. The godling’s lips curl in a sardonic sneer that doesn’t reach anywhere close to his eyes, and he bites back angrily ”I’ll be sure to let Upov Esunawey know how very much you care.”
Regaining his composure, Thraxus dials it back a little and continues in a voice that is more sad than angry. ”Many people have died for this cause, it is true. A great many more shall have to still, if we are to save the rest. Even for those that survive, for all but a handful their spans are limited. Transitory, over in the blink of a cosmic eye. Growing needless attachments will only complicate things in the long run.”
For the first time since their introduction, Thraxus’ eyes slide over to Juan Echo. ”One of you knows what I’m talking about. Perhaps he can explain it to you.”
Starchief wrote:"Out of respect for our long-lasting, positive, and mutually beneficial working relationship, I'll put this next part as politely as I can. You knew the location of my home planet and knew that I was lost. That information would have made me whole yet you kept it from me. You owe me. You can make that right by using your vast influence to convince the Consortium to send aid to Seeron."
Thraxus is in no mood for this shit. ”Funny, the way I heard it was, you were ‘too busy polishing a gun to meet with the higher ups,’ yes? While I like having employees that aren’t yes-men, I definitely do not like those who presume debts on my behalf. A great many mercenary types cross my path- I find that I get better recruits when I don’t ask too many questions about where they came from. It invariably interests me less than what they can do now. Regardless, I reject your assertion that this is in any way my. Problem. And I will not be extorted into taking actions that might be counterproductive while the fate of the Three Galaxies is at stake. If you will not abide by that, then you can take your money and leave.”
The Godling’s eyes flash, and in that moment he is deific anger personified- haughty, grandiose, and prideful to the point of self-sabotage.
Thraxus makes it clear, verbally and otherwise, that he won’t be forced into anything. Whether he actually cares so little for the team, or is merely gambling that Starchief will be the better man, is impossible to say. But assuming Starchief backs down, so does he. ”Now, if you had asked instead of demanded, I could have told you that the Consortium is unlikely to provide the solution you seek anytime soon. Their bureaucracy moves like a ponderous space-whale under the best of circumstances, and these are not they. Beyond the Minion War, and the rapidly escalating stream of crap elsewhere in the Three Galaxies, they’re already tacitly supporting one resistance movement against the Kreeghor. If your people are betting their asses on the Consortium kicking off a confrontation with Klynncryth at the same time, they can kiss those asses goodbye.”
Thraxus holds up a hand to forestall any objections. ”I have contacts at the embassy- I can at least pressure some low-level functionaries to look into the matter. It’ll get your people’s story out there, if nothing else, and ultimately get some sort of appropriate diplomatic proposal put to their legislature. But don’t count on it making it out of committee anytime this year. Just look at what happened to the Machine People.”
Now all business, Thraxus leans forward in his throne. ”I realize this is unsatisfying, to say the least. Many who are forced to deal with the Consortium of so-called Civilized Worlds come away feeling that way. If you desire a more… immediate means to support your people, Doodles can arrange transfers of currency and materiel to any contact he can put you in touch with. It won’t come cheap, but with the kinds of funds I provide you one would imagine it could make all the difference to a fledgling resistance movement and their struggle against oppression. And before you ask, any cause that isn’t worth your money certainly isn’t worth mine. There is a limit to what I can do right now- the campaign to save the Three Galaxies must of necessity proceed along a great many different fronts. Nevertheless, you may wish to spread some of your new wealth around. A great war is coming, and we will need all the allies we can get. Big and small.”
Assuming things calm down, there is a little more discussion- in particular about the planet Axis V aka “Battlefield.” Kaedras notes the precise wording of the deevil wraith’s message, and Icky uses his knowledge of famous battles to deduce that it is in fact a proper name- Battlefield. The fact that a deevil was apparently willing to sacrifice itself for the sake of delivering this message also drives home its potential importance- and the unsettling nature of such an action from one so dedicated to evil. At the revelation Thraxus nods, provides his earlier background information, then continues.
”Oh, one last thing.”
Thraxus reaches under his throne and produces a small, black box. He nonchalantly tosses it to Kaedras, and gestures to open it. Doing so reveals an object some of you will find familiar.
”Your team got it out of the depths of Center- just in time, as it turned out. This is the diadem of water. I’ve had a team working on it, and all they can tell me is that it is a form of techno-wizardry far more advanced than anything to ever come out of the UWW. Supposedly, it and others like it were made by the First Ones. Axis V is home to some sort of apparatus designed to magnify the abilities of these items- when Captain Tran used it in conjunction with the fire relic he obliterated an entire Kreeghor fleet. Needless to say, we have a vested interest in determining whether this relic can offer a similar advantage- under no circumstances can the First Ones’ apparatus fall into the hands of the Kreeghor.”
”Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to replicate the bonding process. Apparently, our dear Quan got lucky. Every psychic to attempt to bond with the thing has been unable to do so, and we don’t know why. Feel free to try your luck, but either way take this to Quan and see if he can help get it activated. Find out what it can do if you can.”
Thraxus then returns his attention to the game- as far as he’s concerned, you’re dismissed. Kaedras finds his gaze increasingly drawn to the diadem- it is a beautiful piece of jewelry. And fascinating, if what Thraxus says is true. The elf experiences a strange compulsion to examine it closely, and learn everything he can about it.
After the meeting
, you encounter Cesar waiting patiently on the landing pad outside Thraxus’ tower. After some brief introductions, the new recruit is escorted inside and shown around. The moment you set foot back on the ship, Datephus makes an announcement.
”CAPTAIN DESIGNATE: STARCHIEF. I AM DETECTING ONE HUMANOID LIFESIGN IN THE ENGINEERING BAY. IT APPEARS TO BE CREWMEMBER DESIGNATE: AOIFE.”
An in-person investigation (and any psionic and/or magic verification) will confirm that it is indeed Aoife. However, Datephus is at a loss as to what happened- the AI has no explanation for how she got back onto the ship, nor for how she went undetected as long as she did.
Sometime later, Sorrenson calls a meeting. A wide-ranging discussion ensues- Haad, the deevils (and their high potential for treachery), repairs and upgrades for the ship, tactics to deploy against the new-and-improved invincible guardsmen, even new and splendid ways to prepare ground Lurduuk. Those of you that are inclined to do so have a few hours to rest, clean the ship, or otherwise assist with repairs as you are able. Sorrenson has both a great and a terribly day (not to mention the drugs) as he is first chewed out by Icky for daring to lay a ratty finger on the cooking equipment, then given more-or-less free reign over the ship’s repair and modification efforts by Starchief. Among other general agreements, Mara endorses putting Sorrenson in charge thanks to their history together.
Afternoon transitions into evening, and true to form Juan suggests a night out on the town to celebrate. He makes a point of inviting Sorrenson (who is enthusiastically on board), Kaedras, and Icky, but all are welcome. While the evening is not as eventful as your fete celebrating the end of the invasion of Center, much alcohol is consumed and many narcotics abused. You’re pretty sure Sorrenson put the robe-and-thong back on at one point, and was prancing around leaving very little to the imagination. After that, there’s a tasteful fade to black. Anyone who makes a perception check at -10% remembers spotting a news report about some Naruni bigwig who went missing.
((Feel free to embellish within reason, but this won’t be an extended scene like last time.))
The next day, you realize that Sorrenson never made it back to the ship. Like, not even close. Promethean security is as unhelpful as always. The memories of any of the party goers are even less helpful. Ironically, it is Sorrenson’s assistant Maris who is the least concerned. She nonchalantly suits up in Sorrenson’s spare suit of power armor, gathers his things, and swings by wherever Starchief is at. ”Yeah, thing about Sorrenson is, this happens sometimes. Don’t worry about it; I’ll track him down. Probably just curled up in a hole somewhere on Level 7 getting high out of his gourd. Some people, y’know, they just need a break from the pressure. I’ll get him sorted out and sent your way ASAP, but don’t wait up.”
With that, she is off.
The day after your return, the meeting with Thraxus, and the party dawns bright. You are free to shop, and avail yourselves of all the amenities Center can offer roughly one week out from a demonic invasion. Still, you cannot help but dwell on the deevil wraith’s last words- or rather, the urgency of them. Whatever might drive a deevil to self-sacrifice, the consequences of leaving it unaddressed for too long could prove dire indeed.
What are you doing?