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Tag: bataav

On the Radar

Intaki V – Moon 5 – Astral Mining Inc. Refinery

The crisp, polite knock on her office door was familiar and not unwelcome. “Come in, Bataav,” Sakaane called out in response. The door opened, then closed, and she heard nothing more. She never did, even though she knew he had entered, crossed the room, and was waiting patiently for her to look up from the document she was working on. A silent, comforting shadow.

She scribbled on the paper for a moment longer, paused to examine what she’d written, then shook her head. Sometimes it helped to write, actually apply pen to paper, rather than simply conjuring up words digitally via her neocom, but today it seemed her muse insisted on being elusive regardless. Pushing the document aside, she met Bataav’s gaze with a warm smile. “What do you have for me?”


Progression

Thanks to Bataav, Daniel Alpena, Devan Corvel, and Maruvindi for their written contributions.
The original posts are here.

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere

Gray light seeped into clouds of mist rising off the surface of the pond. Wisps of vapor twisted and undulated in a slow, mesmerizing dance until they were lost from sight against the gradually brightening sky. The hush of night lingered, swallowing the echo of a shore bird’s call. The bird did not cry out again.

Dawn broke. The first rays of Intaki’s red sun speared the mist; morning exploded in the fog like a spray of blood and the vapors began to recede. The pond beneath the swirling veil was flat as glass and black as space.

Sakaane watched the spectacle from beneath the boughs of a tree growing at the water’s edge. She stood still, not wanting to disturb the quiet, almost cool morning. It was the height of summer in the southern Intaki hemisphere and the heavy, humid air hinted at the stifling heat that would soon come.

A low sound, not quite a slurp, caught her attention. She looked: some thirty feet away, the water rippled where a fish had risen to the surface. It had been a big one, she knew, mature enough to know to take its prey quietly and then slip away. Younger, inexperienced fish tended to get overly excited when food presented, jumping and splashing at the surface and thus making themselves easy targets.

The ripples reached the pond’s embankment, a sharp edge just inches from the toe of her shoe, and made the water lap gently against it. She looked down upon hearing the sound. The ground was covered in grass and ferns growing at the base of the tree; dew had soaked into the hem of her robes. The tree’s roots jutted out in a tangled mess below the waterline and disappeared into the pond’s dark depths.

A smile curved her lips. It was the young and inexperienced fish who, if lucky enough to survive a few close encounters, learned discipline and patience, and went on to catch bigger, better prey of its own.


Respite

Thanks to Bataav, Caellach Marellus, and John Revenent for participating.

Somewhere in Syndicate

The journey from Intaki had thus far been uneventful, save for a brief, heart-pounding moment when their ships came out of warp kissing up against a bubble. Reverse thrusters fired and the hulls keeled over like cats desperately wanting to avoid being stuffed in a carrier. Crewmen—already at alert status—had leapt to battle stations, but the bubble was abandoned, or at the very least, unmanned at that particular moment. The two ships were cloaked anyway. Rather than crawling through the bubble to the gate, they’d warped off to a celestial, returned from a different vector, and continued on their way.

“You’re quiet,” Bataav observed a while later as they neared their destination.

Sakaane swiveled her camera drones to where she supposed his Buzzard might be beside her Anathema as they flew through the black together. Usually, she was the one prompting him.

Another jump came and went and she remained silent, thoughtful. An accompanying flash of gate fire was the only hint he could see that she was still with him.

“I was just thinking,” she eventually replied with a sigh. “The comments Syagrius and others have made about IPI and I-RED. They’re…troubling. We can’t afford to be seen that way anymore.”

“We do need to do more to dissuade opinions like those.”

“Which is ironic, considering where we’re going and why. But then, I suppose it couldn’t be done all at once anyway.”

“No. And we should be mindful of how it might be perceived.”

Silence again. Then she said tightly, “Surely there’s a way to coexist as allies with I-RED while ensuring the public doesn’t see us as their ‘pet’.”


Visual Omens – The Third

Another photograph. The envelope for this one was taped to the door of the suite Bataav and I share on Astral V-5.

It’s a close-up, zoomed in again from the last photo. But this one is clear as crystal. It shows, in perfect, alarming detail…

There’s a date on the image, the kind automatically stamped on when the shot was taken. January 15, YC114. The day my mother died.

The evening, rather. The photo shows it was evening by the color of the waning daylight cast upon the deck. By the purple-blue hue of the sky, just visible in one corner. By the stray firefly, perhaps the first to come out for the night, hovering over the hanging flower basket in the background.

It was evening…because my mother was sitting on the deck at the back of my home on January 15, just like in this photo, to watch the fireflies come out. She had a blanket over her legs even though it was still summer and hot outside…she often had chills.

But I never imagined her face would look…like…that. An essay of terror.

Bataav took the photo away from me. His people found a thumb print on it, placed over my mother’s soundlessly screaming face. This is the sender’s calling card, his message to me.

Of course I know now who the sender must be but I was still sick when Bataav confirmed it. After months of searching databases, to have a record suddenly turn up for Darac Rin (and then quietly vanish some hours after the query was made) was deliberate; he’s playing games with me, telling us that soon he’ll be coming for me like he did for Mom…

Bataav has been very quiet and still, even more so than the way he was when Darac assaulted me at the holoreel convention. I slept for a while to calm my nerves and when I woke I thought he had gone, but he’d been sitting in the corner of our bedroom the entire time, watching over me. I didn’t notice him at all until he finally spoke and startled me nearly into my next incarnation.

All he said to me was, “It’s time to take the fight to him. I will train you.”


Infiltration

Bataav told me today that, for some months now, he’s had an operative working to infiltrate the Serpentis cells in the Intaki area. He feels that Darac Rin must be based somewhere in Viriette, especially after the incident in May and Darac’s apparent past familiarity with my father.

Things between us have been a bit better since he showed up at the house last month. I can tell he’s trying to make some gestures of trust, as this matter about the operative shows. It’s a start…

There hasn’t been much word, and for good reason. It takes a great deal of care to get in with the right people in the first place. I suppose it isn’t helped that we’ve learned Darac is something of a black sheep among the Serpentis. Bataav tells me this has made the operative’s job easier to some extent; being on the fringes of the group means the operative doesn’t have to fake the loyalty as much. But it also has made Darac harder to find.

The operative has made it in with the Serpentis, but he still has some ways to go to get close to Darac. He can’t just show up on the guy’s door and ask to tag along, after all. He’ll have to earn that black sheep rep himself. If he moves too fast, it’ll probably tip them all off. But move too slowly…

We have no way of knowing when Darac might try to strike again.


Hour of the Wolf

Intaki Prime – South Hemisphere – Drahaana City
Eionell Esatate

A bead of sweat gathered on her forehead where it rested against the pillar, eventually seeping down into her eyebrow through stray hairs plastered to her skin. Then it slipped out, rolling past the corner of her eye and over her cheek like a tear.

The bead lingered near her jaw line, which began to itch as the droplet slowly evaporated into the still air and roused Sakaane from her musing. She sat up and wiped the droplet away. Her forehead burned where it had touched the pillar; even now, in the middle of the night, the smooth white stone still radiated heat soaked up from the sun’s red rays that day. The steps she sat on were similarly warm. It had been an unusually hot day despite autumn in the southern hemisphere being typically cool and dry.

A spot of light caught her eye, bobbing between the leaves of ferns growing just to her left. The firefly came closer, its luminescence weakening as it entered the meager pool of light filtering over Sakaane. A small lamp in the front hall was lit, its light barely reaching outside the house through the draped window beside the door. Other than that and the moons overhead, Sakaane was in the dark.

The bug settled on a flower an arm’s length from her. She sat still, watching it nuzzle the eventide blossom, its rump dimmed almost to nothing while it fed. After a few moments the firefly leapt back into the air, its light flaring bright, and disappeared into the night.


Trust Issues

We’ve been busy. Council sessions continue to play out more along the lines of a circus of hostility. It’s ridiculous, the amount of juvenile baloney that goes on. I never expected grade-school level name-calling would be something I’d experience as president, but there it is. Politics at its best? I’ve tried (somewhat unsuccessfully) not to show it in chambers but my stress level is higher than it’s ever been and my patience is wearing thin.

Tongue Wars

Tongue Wars

Given the antics today, in hindsight it was obviously not the best time to bring it up but Bataav and I had a…conversation…about his team. I confronted him with what Aranza told me regarding their background and questioned what it means considering he told me he worked with them before he became a capsuleer. I listed off a few other, unrelated, odd things he’s mentioned (let slip?).

He told me, finally, what it all means. The truth. Probably still not the whole truth, which was another matter entirely that we argued about with no resolution.

I’m bothered by what he admitted to. It doesn’t change how I feel about him, but I do find myself wishing I’d known about it sooner. Regardless, he is who he is and I do love him.

The bigger problem is his habit of keeping things from me. I understand he’s a private man and much of this habit is due to his occupation, but our relationship needs to be built on trust. I trust him; I’d tell him anything and everything because he is important to me, the most important part of my life now. We can’t expect to work together if we aren’t honest with one another. If he doesn’t trust me enough to really let me into his life, whatever it may have been before, whatever it is today…

I just…hate this feeling that I might not really know who he is or what he’s really up to when he vanishes and won’t tell me where he’s going beyond it being “business”. And now that I know what I know about his background…I just don’t know what to think.


Adjustments

It’s been a couple of weeks since Bataav posted the security detail at my estate on the surface.

I spend most of my time at Astral and FedMart with Bataav, so I checked in with Aranza today to see how things are going, as I imagined it would be quite a change for her to suddenly have five armed men in body armor traipsing around the grounds and the house. Perhaps it comes from memories of my brothers, who would tear (on occasion) down the halls, whooping and hollering in some fantastic display of make-believe games and sending all manner of items crashing to the floor until my parents shooed them outside to play, where they would inevitably trample my mother’s flower garden. Not that I expect Bataav’s men to play or stomp on the plants! But Aranza has been head housekeeper for many years now and runs my home just-so, and everything there has been so quiet for so long. Five men—grown or not—suddenly tossed into the mix could be, from her point of view, trouble enough.

To my surprise, she was actually quite unruffled. The six of them have integrated very well, apparently having easily come to a kind of unspoken agreement on how to work together. The rest of the house staff have not been bothered either. Aranza said Bataav’s men—I call them a “security detail” but honestly they are really commandos—are mostly quiet and unobtrusive, very respectful of the status quo, serious about their duty, and she doesn’t often see them. They spend most of their time patrolling the grounds and the estate’s perimeter. As each ends their shift, they enter the house to take meals, and relax and sleep in the rooms provided to them, though someone does stand guard over the house at night.

She thinks they are incredibly capable and she feels very safe, which reassures me. I’ll be in good hands whenever I go home.


Protected: The Diplomat and the President

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Happy Birthday

Today was Bataav’s birthday so I got him something nice…

The Kiss

The Kiss