By the time the Arx had been built, Elpsis had already been blind. Still, she had a pretty good idea of what the Kerrigan-Alcori villa had looked like. Siobhan, Tegaea and various servant girls had been eager to describe things for her and tell her about the fine tapestries, precious artworks, rare woods and expensive vases. Siobhan had bragged about her artefact collection. Besides, she remembered the villa on Tygara, overlooking New Santaissa. She wasn't entirely sure whether the family still owned that. The villa on Siobhan's floating mega-city was similar. Many words could be used to describe it. Opulent. Grandiose. Wasteful. She had been part of the family for years. She was the heiress. Temporary house head even, by virtue of the fact that she was the only one left in the family who counted something.

She still felt like a stranger when she crossed the threshold. The villa felt like it was swallowing her. She felt small as she lingered in the entrance hall. While Siobhan was awake, the place would have teemed with life. Servants, aides and guards would have surrounded the 'Lady' like planets orbiting a sun. Now it was almost deserted. Livia and Adril were with the Vashyada, Tegaea was off somewhere. A skeleton crew remained.

"Lady Kerrigan!" an Eldorai servant girl greeted her, bowing demurely. "Welcome, we didn't expect you. Can I offer you anything? Something to drink, a massage...we're here to serve you..."
"No, thanks," Elpsis cut her off a bit gruffly. "Just fetch Royal please."
"Oh, right away, my lady."
Elpsis felt like telling her not to call her that, but then the servant had already turned on her heels and departed, leaving her alone with her thoughts. Seriously, did the entrance hall really needed to be this big? It felt like it was swallowing you. Elpsis felt ill at ease amidst the luxurious surroundings, dressed only in battered spacer clothes - trousers, vest, black leather jacket, combat boots.

"Ah, Elpsis, back from the battlefield of Coruscant I see," Royal's refined, faux cheerful voice heralded her arrival. In contrast to the 'Lady Kerrigan', the Chiss majordomo was beautifully dressed. Not a hair was out of place. Her perfume was nice at least. Elpsis had a sensitive nose. "I heard all about it on the news. I'm glad you're alright."
"Same old, same old," Elpsis remarked. "Senators are cowards and traitors; Jedi are fools. The usual." It left her cold. The most baffling thing about the Sith's infiltration of the Alliance's government was not that it had happened, but that they had tipped their hand so soon. Now their overlord's cover had been blown - all just to kill some Jedi and sack Coruscant, like virtually every modern Sith empire had done before them. Personally, Elpsis thought the military should coup the Senate.
"So true. I was there when the Republic failed. Then I met your mother. Someone with the iron will and the vision to fight back."
Oh, shut up, Elpsis thought. "And now she's taking a nap. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about Coruscant. We've got, um, business to discuss."

Royal's eyes lit up. "I'm so glad to hear you've decided to claim what is yours and not let those ignoramuses on the board spoil the family inheritance."
"I'm sure you've been holding the fort."
The sarcasm either flew over the Chiss' head or was ignored by her. "You wouldn't believe what I've had to put up with. If certain board members had their way, House Kerrigan-Alcori would be excluded from decision-making entirely. They don't value your noble struggle against the evil in the galaxy, only their profits."
"Like you do?"
"What's that for a question? I fought the One Sith when my people kowtowed to them. If more of my people has done as I did, perhaps we'd still have a homeworld. I was I who said Firemane's didn't give you and your team adequate support at Csilla, but my objections were brushed aside. And no offence to Tegaea, but she...just doesn't have any energy or initiative. But together we can turn things around." Without waiting for a response, she took Elpsis by the arm. "Come with me, dear. Let's go to your mother's study. Well, yours, I guess."

The study was dominated by a massive desk with a large, throne-like chair. "Your mother's chair, dear. Don't be shy. She'd want you to sit on it."
"She ran out of other daughters who weren't kids," Elpsis retorted a bit caustically.
"Now, now, dear, take it from your Auntie Royal. Your mother only wanted you to fulfil your potential. She was...strict, but she believed in you, as do I."
You believe in her money, Elpsis thought, but sat down. Royal took the seat in front of her. When the Chiss looked at her, she felt her covetuousness. You want this stupid, ugly chair? All that power and luxury. Elpsis thought to herself. It had corrupted Siobhan; it had corrupted Tegaea. The former had turned into a pompous despot, the latter into a weak-willed, gold-digging trophy wife.

"I have my files right here. Everything has been carefully documented. You'll be pleased to hear that..."
"Hold that thought," Elpsis cut her off. "Just run me through: what does the family actually own? I mean stuff that's ours directly."
"In terms of landed property and vessels?"
"Yeah. Can you brief me on that?"
Elpsis could not see the smug smile, but certainly feel Royal's smugness. "Of course, I can, dear. I have an excellent memory. It's why your mother hired me. Aside from the residence on the Arx, House Kerrigan-Alcori owns a couple villas on Tygara and the Arkas. Furthermore, 5% of the Arx belongs to the House outright."
"The Arx is 40km."

"Yes, this means the house owns..."
"I can do basic maths, Royal. I never went to high school, but I can count."
The Chiss bristled, feeling a bit annoyed about being interrupted. "Yes, of course, I would never imply otherwise. Regardless, the family's holdings on the Arx encompass several penthouses, apartments and living spaces. We have some real estate scattered around Alliance or Silver Jedi space, though these are less pertinent. Furthermore, we have a collection of sea and space yachts, chief among them the Viceroy and the Ardarvia."
"That's...a lot."
Royal smiled. "Your mother put her everything into building this house, dear. For you, and your sisters. Then there's the Celestial Vahana."
Elpsis looked momentarily perplexed. "What's that?"
"Firemane's worldcraft, dear. I am surprised that anyone could forget an 80km station, least of all the daughter of the builder!"
"I have actual work to do. Do we even do anything with it that we can't do with the Arx?"
"This is no ordinary station, dear. It is a miniaturised planetoid that simulates the landscape of a terrestial planet. It has residential areas, shops, foundries, and shipyards, but also forests, rivers and farming land. The family has considerable holdings. 4% I believe." Elpsis sunk back into her chair, looking thoughtful. "Would you like a more detailed briefing, dear? I'm afraid none of my files are in Braille, but..."

"We don't need all this crap," Elpsis said gruffly.
"Excuse me?"
"Get rid of it. What's the point?"
"I understand you're unused to your responsibilities, dear. That is why all of the family's assets have been placed in trust."
"Lemme guess, you you run the trust."
"Until Lady Kerrigan awakens, yes."
"I can't get rid of any of this crap," Elpsis muttered to herself. She tapped her robotic fingers on the majestic desk. "But I can decide what it's used for."
"Technically yes, but practically..."
"Scrap some of that crap on the Arx and make it a hospital."
"I'm afraid it's not that simple, dear. Some of these apartments - which are very expensive, by the way - have been leased to good friends of the family."

"I don't give a frak. They're aristos. They can go somewhere else."
"Elpsis, my dear, you've been away for a long time. It's laudable you want to leave your mark on things, but you're not familiar with your duties yet."
"You'd never talk to my mother that way. Well, she put me in charge." Elpsis propped up her boots on the desk. Royal turned up her nose at the coarse display. "You keep saying so yourself. Make it a hospital for veterans. A home. For folks who got limbs blown off and don't have a mother with a bloated bank account. We keep blathering about how much we care for our people. We still own that place near New Santaissa? On a hill overlooking a lake. Forget the name, but you can see the palace from there."
Royal was clearly about to say something further, but Elpsis continued on. "School. For kids from poor backgrounds. Former slaves, refugees, working class folks. I don't want anyone there who grew up with a silver spoon in their mouth. And hire good teachers. Can you get this done?"
Through the Force, Elpsis felt a sudden surge of anger coursing through Royal. Disdain was written all over the Chiss' aura. She seemed on the precipice of an explosion. Then suddenly the burst of white-hot rage was replaced by absolute calm. Too sudden to be genuine. "I believe this is a wonderful idea, Elpsis! I don't think your Mother ever wanted vast tracks of real estate that are just left unattended. She'd want them to be put to productive use to help her people. I'll assemble the necessary experts and come up with a plan. I have ample experience in managing projects like this."

"I'm sure you do. But fine you do that."
"But let's not stop here. There's so much more we can do. Siobhan owns a beautiful island on Arkas called Thirasia. The biodiversity is simply breathtaking. It's an untouched tropical beauty. Siobhan has a holiday home there, but we shouldn't intrude too much on a nature paradise. I propose we reconceive it as a research facility to catalogue the wildlife there. Non-invasively, of course. We want to document and understand, not disrupt. It will run on renewable energy."
You know what I like, Elpsis thought. "I heard about Thirasia. That's a...good idea," she admitted.
Royal smiled. "I live to serve. Moving on, the worldcraft is a considerable investment but underutilised by your mother. Alas, Danton is too much of an unimaginative bean-counter to grasp its true potential. Perhaps a radical rethink could be done with the family holdings there." The Chiss produced a datapad and made swift notes. "For instance the artificial forest and preserve could be a great place for hunters to train their skills. One of the family villas is barely used, I think we could substantially refit it to be a training area for officials and bureaucrats. The Firestar Academy perhaps? And we could name the forest after you. It would be a fitting tribute to your love of nature."

"No," Elpsis growled. There was a sharp edge to her tone. "We're not replacing my mothers' egotistical crasp with more egotistical crap. "Make the...make the villa a home for refugees. Maybe add some workshops for job training."
"As you wish, Elpsis. I'll have a report for you in a day. In braille, of course."
Elpsis grit her teeth. "Thank you, Royal."
"That's what I'm here for, my dear."
"I don't wanna lay people off, Royal. Find other work for the staff members of the villas we're replacing. Not their fault my mothers built more vanity projects than they could ever use."
"Certainly, my dear. This is the start of a wonderful partnership. Look at you, the new Lady Kerrigan, taking the reins. We're all so proud of you."
"Make a normal copy, too. I will have my advocate look over the report with me," Elpsis stated.
Royal got a tremor of concern but recovered and said: "Your...advocate? Of course, if they have any questions please let me know."
"You'll hear from her soon." Once Elpsis had found one. She had a day. "Dismissed," she said curtly.
The Chiss got up from her seat. "If there's anything you need, Elpsis - anything - don't hesitate to call me." Then she was out.

Elpsis sank back into her chair. Siobhan would probably expect her to inspect the staff, but she didn't particularly care whether they were slacking or not. Technically, it was her money, but what an Eldorai maid was getting was fractional compared to the cost of even one villa or yacht, let alone the worldcraft. So she got up. She had a few calls to make. But she didn't want to make them here. Or spend a moment longer than necessary in this absurd palace.