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As the doors for The Crown of Ice are parted by its snowy security team, the throng of attendees are ushered in from the cold, and the saccharine sounds of music drifted high through the halls. A brass band supported by a jaunty string ensemble and led by an unseen vocalist on piano carried the lively mood throughout the crowd. Tuxy, suited attendants animated from their places along the corridor, offering courteous smiles and polite offerings to take the heavy coats and outer layers of the guests to the enigmatic fortress. White marble floors stretched far and wide, with their span only disrupted by stretches of fur and lavishly patterned rugs. White, gold, and black seemed to be the carrying theme throughout the extravagant decor.
Passing through the foyer, guests would be ushered into a grand hall by attendants. The broad, open space was bustling already with a dozen attendants, each one busy with overseeing the various table settings, opening the towering curtains to expose the snowy mountains and tundra stretching beyond the frosted windows and balcony doors, or collecting the trays of premade cocktails and hors d'oeuvres from the sprawling bar nestled against the wall opposite of the door. Dozens of black-draped tables arranged themselves across the dark stained floor, offering a seat for every guest and then some. And beyond the sea of circular tables lay space adequately opened up as a dancefloor for those bold enough to endeavor such a thing. Elevated at the head of the room rose a stage supporting the starring band, whose groovy music was swelling to a more appropriate atmospheric volume now that the party was to begin.
Crystalline and gold chandeliers twinkled high overhead, offering a moody light wash across the hall that seemed to glint and reflect in dancing gleam across the golden flatware, crystal glasses, and sparkling suits of the wait staff. The efforts to light the space were bolstered by the dancing hearth rising high centered between the windows of the far wall.
You are a guest:
Eat, drink, and be merry! This party is for you, after all. Take time away from the hustle and bustle of The Third Imperial Civil War or the politicking. Enjoy a drink with an old friend, share a dance with a new face, relax by the hearth and bask in the beauty of the frozen landscape beyond the fortress walls, or step out onto the balcony for a moment of quiet in the chilly air and stargaze. Perhaps, if one is feeling more bold and adventurous, the unexplored depths of the fortress may hold an enticing draw… if one can evade the watchful security team patrolling throughout.
You are an attendant:
All the preparation has paid off, the party is upon us! Cater to the needs of the guests, ensuring they have the proper drinks, plenty to snack on, and are enjoying themselves to the fullest. Keep an eye for hazards that may pose a threat to the partygoers and corral those who stray too far from the ballroom and washrooms.
Rose admired the grand scene.She had never been in a place quite so plush. The color palette and the majesty sweeping her away into her own thoughts. That is until someone offered to take her cloak. she tensed and looked over at them unsure. ¨It´s oka-¨
she was met with insistence.
after the removal she walked into the grand hall. She swayed with the crescendo of the music. she naturally drifted off into a corner where she would e out of the way. drink in her right hand.
Rose would like to talk to someone. If she had the nerve to approach them. her finger tips gingerly touched the wall as she looked back out at all the guest. Unlikely that she would know anyone here but. She searched the crowd anyways for a familiar face.
Not that the cold bothered her too much -- enough self-control and the Force, and she was as toasty outside as when she stepped inside the grand castle. The interior was well-decorated; their host for the night had spared no expense. She did not know Lord Halketh but could only guess that he had a marvelous sense of fashion.
Her sense was what she was questioning. She wore a heavy dress, colored the Alliance's deep blue, along with a snow-white shawl. Perhaps it was the touches of makeup and jewelry that made her feel so... regal. Extravagant. That was what it felt like. She, a most humble of Jedi, dressed in the finest clothes, at a party among the New Imperial's makeshift aristocracy. A prince at her arm and servants taking their coats.
For a moment she just stared at him. That most regal of Serrenoan nobles, a man who had lost and gained much, skipping from title to title. Was that what she was afraid of? At the Crown of Ice they were far from the warfront, far from people who might need her aid. She'd been to parties, important events, every manner of diplomatic shindig; yet this one was where she felt most out of place.
Her gaze softened. She held his arm just a touch tighter. A small smile came to her lips.
"Tell me more about this, ah, Lord Halketh," she asked. "We'd best introduce ourselves to our host, before anyone else. Then... you'll be my guide. I'm rather unfamiliar with New Imperial war heroes. For the most part."
It was as cold as credits, with the business mentality to match. Despite which, it was a great market to try and canvas for support to medical research or the Healer's Guild. Either made for great marketing material, provided one's strategy aligned with emotional manipulation or whatever the PR spin doctors thought was cool these days.
Kory was too old to believe that anyone did the right thing for the right reasons. And a tad too cynical to believe in "right reasons" besides. Anything could be made to sound good or look like something other than what it was. It all depended on perspective and facts. Or alternative facts. Or however the data points may fall into use, disuse or dispute.
The elderly matriarch was managing without a cane. A touch of pride perhaps, but a slight exercise in the Force gave her mobility enough to stand on her own two feet as she stepped inside. She'd be lying if she said her first glance around the room hadn't been to try and spy either the bar or perhaps a passing waiter with a tray of something slightly alcoholic.
The aging doctor wore a white suit. Elegant, but simple. She was well past the stage of anyone wanting to see her in some elegant gown. And, to hell with what other people wanted, she wouldn't have wanted to put herself through that kind of pain anyway. Those dresses were always uncomfortable. If not to wear, then to get into. Hard pass.
The First Order Medical Services pin on the left side of the jacket style top added a splash of color with its red and black finish.
What was she doing here? Schmooze? Brush up some support for a damn fool idealistic crusade providing meals to underprivileged children afflicted by one of any number of wars across the galaxy? Well, she supposed she was interested in how the New Imperial Order was coping with its claim to former Sith Imperial worlds. The Dark Lord of the Sith had chosen to build up some economies while indiscriminately razing others to the ground. That had to have left the New Imperials coping with populations of displaced people, insufficient planetary infrastructure in places, and a host of other systematic social issues -- any one of which could be a monumental task to try and address.
Maybe she'd find another lost cause to invest herself in. Force knew, Kory loved lost causes.
Arcturus let someone take his long, black coat as he entered the warmth of the grand hall. The party was indeed quite the sight to behold. Attendants bustling about, guests enjoying themselves to food and drink, and all were dressed for the occasion. Arcturus himself was wearing an expensive black and gold suit. He had forgone wearing his military garb, but still bore his medals on his vest. He may not have been on duty today, but he was still a soldier. He looked around, eyeing for anyone he recognized. As he made his way through the crowd, he grabbed a glass of wine from one of the attendants.
This was a much needed change of pace for Arcturus. After the back to back fights at Ziost and Serenno, he had seen enough of combat for a while. He could only imagine how those who had seen more than him had been feeling. Those thoughts were meant to be put far away for now, considering the occasion. That being said, he couldn't help but to take a moment to reflect on those experiences...
But no, now wasn't the time for grieving. Now was the time for much needed celebration. Tonight would be one of drinks, merriment, and much needed distraction.
Leon was...uncomfortable with high society. The last interaction he’d had with anyone who could be considered “high society” was when he’d been awarded his Golden Starbird. Two years ago. The Jedi stopped for a moment on the steps. Had Brentaal really been that long ago? He continued, trying to focus on the gorgeous architecture and decorations on the castle.
As he entered, he was treated like any other guest. He was accepted, just another face in the crowd. His red Outfit was eye-catching, yes, but not out of place. But Leon avoided eye contact. These weren't his people. They were more alien to him than actual aliens. They were mostly people who'd been rich for their entire life, or at least comfortable. These were dukes and princesses, royalty that Leon had never even dreamed he'd be among. And now, he was.
Why was he here? Had had fought against the Sith Empire, yes, but never alongside the New Imperials. Was his status as a Jedi who had fought in the Stygian Campaign enough? Surely there were others who deserves this honor more than him? The Jedi Pilot wandered towards the edge of the party, unsure if he should approach anyone. And even if he did, who would he talk to, and about what?
The cold air that had accompanied her up the elegant stairways had ceased to be, instead the warm air of the building's interior came to greet her. A distant musician swept their hands across the keys of a piano as Teica limped inside. Her coat slid off to reveal a dark blue Alliance dress uniform, leading in to an ankle-length skirt that covered black dress pants. Her dark brown hair curved behind her ears, with a warm smile slowly coming to be.
The commander's leg still ached, even though the shrapnel had all been extracted. The doctor had said that whatever remained was psychogenic, or something of the sort. Maybe it was.
She didn't see the point in any of it, but her crew would have been disappointed if their commanding officer wasn't down on Carlac with them. Even if she didn't need the break, they did. Besides, the Resolution was still in spacedock, and she had filed all her reports. Teica's eyes scanned the crowd. Perhaps she could find a reason not to sneak out at the earliest opportunity.
The commander winced, her back bent almost forty-five degrees forward, as her hands took positions around her right knee. Her eyes came to a shut position, and her breath grew unsteady. It felt almost as if scattered bunches of nerves were all lighting up at once, and refusing to die down. All in your mind. All in your mind. Hesitant exhales could only fade ever so slightly, but the pain was almost done. Teica's eyes opened, now taking sight of concerned and curious faces alike. She couldn't respond.
The Stygian Campaign, the battle of the Namadii Corridor, they had all had left their scars. Scars that would never heal. Wounds...that she refused to let heal.
Teica, after a quick series of breathing exercises, made her way for one of the empty tables. The party yet again had lit up, commotion, music, it all returned in full force; no longer dulled by the pain. She set down, back gently resting against the back of a chair. Her hands glided along the fine-tailored dress, and came to have her wrists resting on her legs.
"We'll meet again...Don't know where...Don't know when...But I know we'll meet again some sunny day...."
Rose noticed someone slightly familiar. Noticing his own nervousness had almost mirrored hers she decided, why not?
She approached him and moved her drink form her right to her left holding out her hand finger tips slightly curled at the end. It was an invitation for him to join her.
Her dress was a dark black that had a deep royal purple sheen to it when the light hit it right. Otherwise it was simple. That was part of the reason she chose it. It complemented her own body while not taking away rather adding to whomever stood next to her. It was slightly more revealing then she would have liked but nothing is perfect is it?
Rose smiled warmly looking into his eyes with her own pale crystal blue ones. ¨Well hello there. Its nice to meet you perhaps you would like to dance?¨
She asked while abandoning her drink.
Rose looked at his suit and smiled. ¨You look dashing may i add.¨
Carlac. What a miserable waste. Snow, sleet. Uch. Unbearable. And yet, realpolitik demanded his attention. It was much like his citadel on Hoth but an age ago in that regard. A cold desolate place, and yet critical to the upkeep of his own domains. And who was Rausgeber to deny and alienate one of his fellow warlords? Particularly one of the Dual Barony. Halketh, as liberal as he was, was an ally. One to stand against the powers that be on the Moff Council. And as far as Carlyle was concerned, if turning up at a ball every now and then meant more resources allocated to his own projects? So be it. If anything however, it was his date whom drew the most interest.
She had been fashionably late to the rendezvous aboard the Tregessar, and yet, she still came, albeit with little time to really gauge any conversation. It was more a rush for dress with his partner, before dispatch on a smaller destroyer. But he craved the company of an old associate of sorts. Especially when she could be a potential ally in this new Galaxy. Carlyle strode through into the foyer, his arm linked platonically with Sybil Shepard. "It reminds me, Sybil," The Admiral Regent mused with a quiet forloness, "Of what the Grand Moff liked." He pursed his lips, "All this, grandeur, and ostentatiousness." He sighed. Even without the cold, it felt almost like Avalonia during the golden years. Before the Ruuvi. Before his death. Before the end of the wars that made him who he was.
"But that's Halketh for you. Never misses a beat to flex in some manner." Rausgeber added drily. He was dressed rather, formally. But not too out of the way. A black greatcoat with a crisp obsidian dress uniform. Fitted with all the sigils and regalia which denoted him as Admiral Regent. Head of the New Imperial Navy. Along with immaculate broaches, carved from Kyber, denoting the Prefsbelt Command insignia on his lapel. "Shall we Director," He offered with a wry smirk, "Find ourselves some drink? It's been too long since I've made an arse of myself at one of these events."
Positioned behind the bar, Yula slowly wiped down a whisky glass with a clean cloth.
It hadn’t exactly been ages since she’d attended an extravagant party, generally as an uninvited guest. The Corpo’s Lifeday party on Denon came to mind, bringing a tight, reminiscent smile to her face at the idea of trying to smuggle a ham out of there beneath her shirt.
It wouldn’t work, anyway, not with her current getup of a long-sleeved white undershirt and black vest. Everything about her was unusually neat tonight, from her pinned back hair to clothing. The help all wore a similar uniform, from the waiters drifting through the lavish crowd with trays of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, to the bathroom attendants and valets. Right down to Yula, who was still cleaning that glass.
It was her general wariness of the New Imperial Order that brought her here. Normally giving them a wide berth, the celebration presented a good opportunity for her to slip into a role that wasn’t outright reconnaissance, but one of general observation. With new Sith powers cropping up, would the imperial war machine swing its weight into crushing the fledgling empires before their influence spread too far? Or was their focus elsewhere?
That, and Yula was never one to pass up a side gig that paid this well.
Finally satisfied, she slid the crystalline glass back on its shelf, edge to edge with a dozen others.
When the grand doors to the castle swung open warm and welcome, the huddled freezing masses shuffled their way inside. But these weren't just any masses. These were the most illustrious Jedi, politicians, and nobility of the Alliance and the Order, as well as any other names in the galaxy with enough influence and interest in the New Imperials to secure an invitation. Hans often lost sight of the fact that this included him. He was after all one of the many exiled nobles refuged in the New Imperial Order, plotting their returns.
The NIO inspired a great many feelings of strength, pride, and hopefulness in Hans, but lately nothing could shake him from the feeling his own planet would never be liberated, at least not to way it used to be. He hoped tonight's festivities would calm him, and he'd be able to learn a thing or two from the more functioning nobles of the galaxy.
He surrendered his coat and lightsaber to the valets, and went inside what instantly felt like a long lost memory. The grand ballroom brought back deep memories of the gala's his parents hosted for the Silver Jedi as a kid. He grew up running around the legs of patrons and the fine dining tables, causing joyous childhood chaos. It would almost be 15 years since they'd been killed, leaving him, just a boy, to be a puppet the Sith, desperately trying hide his force sensitivity from his evil masters.
Hans purged the thought from his mind. Hatred was so burned into his thoughts, even clouding the most innocent. He needed a drink.
He made his way over to the bar and ordered a neat brandy from the Zeltron Bartendress. It was the drink of Tion, a sector known for its breadbaskets and its high society resting on the beaches of Tion Proper, before the Sith and the Bryn'adul of course. The lush fields of his homeworld made some of the best, but they could never top the Cognac from the nearby Barabel Colonies of Abraxin.
He sat with his back to the bar and observed the party. He recognized faces of many New Imperials he knew. Prince Dooku and the Shield of the Jedi, who was wearing an outfit with the same colours as Hans', though it was far more regal. Luckily, they weren't likely to be seen together during the night. Then there was the harsh and powerful presence of Carlyle Rausgeber, and of course the Galidraanis. They knew how to celebrate victories, and how to properly drink the pain of losing their men away. He hadn't been at Carannia or New Adasta, having only heard the talk about those crippling battles as he worked on the home front while the unrest grew.
The next person who caught his eye made him linger in unease. Okkeus, back with the Jedi. It wasn't like he had fallen to the enemy, the Jedi were the NIO's allies after all. But still. They hadn't spoken since just before Okkeus' departure from bastion. He approached his once-brother cautiously and casually. He stepped up next to him as he took a big sip of brandy, then he placed his drink on a high table next to them.
Tulan Kor, once had been known to be a fairly good-looking man, with bright blue eyes and a wolfish, mischevious grin that would routinely and habitually pop up.
Such was not the case anymore- the brightness behind his eyes dulled, his face hardened, and Nida Perl
took half of his fucking face. And it had been years- years since Tulan had gone to anything social. So it was not unnoticed by the party guests that the stocky Commander showed up in the dress uniform that had gone untouched. He wore only a quarter of his awards, and chose to opt to display his unit's symbols, and the most prominent on his shoulder rested the Demon Company emblem-
With a black band over it.
Tulan Kor wasn't quite the last survivor of Demon Company, but there were enough to count on two hands. A shame to last him a lifetime, and a memory forever burned into his soul of the loss. A wound that would never heal, a scar that wouldn't go away, like the ones that marred his face. Sometimes scars accentuated persons, they could count them as a puckish rogue, a sort of ne'er-do-well, or perhaps a valiant hero.
Tulan was disfigured, the horrible reality of warfare and what it cost the men and women that the New Imperial put to battle displayed for all the nobles, politicians and guests to see- at the bar at least.
Tulan's cufflink adorned hands sat at the bar. And depending on how you looked at it, Tulan had either been at the bar for a grand total of six and a half minutes, or twelve years. Either way, he was going to get his cocktail, and show his ugly face for the party, be thanked for his "bravery" and the amount of people he killed in the service of the New Imperial Order, and then go home to another empty bed in another empty night.
Absent mindedly touching the faded skin where his wedding band once stood, Tulan waited for the Zeltron bartender to serve him, thinking of women that he once knew and that never thought about him anymore.
He'd never forget her, though- or at least, how she made him feel.
But the alcohol helped him forget for a little while now and again.
For the first time of his life, Herlock was glad to be on Carlac. With the Dalness Manufacturings drydock in orbit, he could enjoy the party while his ship is being repaired. He was still in his uniform. As soon as ship had entered the drydock, he didn't take the time to change clothes and left the ship, with his gun on his waist.
As he entered the hall where the little party was held, he instinctively looked for some escape routes. "Don't worry Albrecht, it's just a diplomatic party. There won't be any ambush". With this thought in mind, he relaxed and started looking for someone to drink and speak with. He wasn't very familiar with this atmosphere, due to the amount of time he spent in the infinity of space. "Well, let's drink and see how it turns".
Appreciative of the straight-posture the concierge had in addressing him directly, Lord Erskine of Clan Barran was also surprised at the front-of-house host's recognition of the Lord-Commander from a distance. Barran wasn't wearing his numbered jacket or his military attire, so the polite fellow in the tuxedo must have done his homework on all the evening's guests to accommodate their tastes and preferences to a higher standard; and though it seemed strange to begin with, the Brigadier-General learned quickly that the well-researched approach would make for the ideal service when he finally got the chance to be seated at the table they'd reserved for him.
'Is the Cladhan ready, lad?', Barran asked curiously, to which a gracious nod was given in reply. The young concierge would bring out his datapad and bring the Blue-Heart's chilling and storage instructions up on the little display. By then, the Brigadier-General was impressed with the man's commitment to getting every part of his job done right, exclaiming,'Haw, sur! You an' me are gawnty get oan like a hoose oan fire if you keep up this winning-streak, I tell ya!', with a friendly handshake offer, which was met in the middle with an appreciative smirk that showed a more stoic approach to receiving kindly social graces.
'I genuinely hope so, Milord. You're something of a legend on Carlac already, and I would rather not jade the experience for anyone while I still earn my coin as a five-star concierge. Cold though this planet may be, there are many opportunities still to be found for those with credits to fund their ambitions, especially if one may consider buying out his own military commission.'
'Well, if ye keep working to this standard the-night, I may just go ahead an' pay that up on your behalf.', Erskine replied, understanding of the concierge's need to buy his own commission. Many of the commoner-officer elements within the Galidraan Free-State's history were known to buy out their own commissions, though none were quite so famous for it as Berach Ulrand, buying it out with a small fortune from the riches he'd earned as a bareknuckle boxer. Though the requirements that accompanied buying out a Carlac officer's commission may have differed to that of the Galidraani exiles, Barran knew that throwing a recommendation in the right direction would aid the young concierge's rise to prominence. Barran would consider this as he gave a friendly slap to the ambitious one's shoulder, turning the concierge towards the glass-windowed doors of the venue itself as he concluded on the matter, muttering,'I think Carlac's mechanised element could use someone of your calibre, plenty trained details to learn that not even my own contingent's figured out yet.'
'Many thanks, Milord. You're much too kind, and to one who hasn't even made a formal introduction yet. Horrible manners on my part, it must be said. So without further ado, I'll say it's a pleasure to meet you, and my name is Deron Qaluen.'
'Pleasure's all mine, lad.', Erskine responded amiably, just before Deron had taken the initiative to lead the way towards the party itself. However, Erskine would stop him one last time and give instructions before fixing up his own tuxedo attire for the occasion one last time, muttering,'Alright, as for the Cladhan, three bottles behind the bar, one at my table, and send the fifth to the fellow from Prefsbelt Command. Further instructions for the crate's contents t'be expected, but we can settle for that for now. Lead the way, Mr. Qaluen!', whilst straightening out his Woad-silk tie in the door window's slightly-obscuring reflection.
This was not exactly an environment he was used to. And for one bizzare moment as he stood there, his name announced as if he was some sort of nobility attending this little shindig. Nobility was far from what he was. He was the son of a farmer dammit. He was supposed to be some kind of ascetic monk. Not some socialite mingling with the high and mighty.
But this was where he found himself. It was unfortunate that the invitations were a public thing that he received along with Auteme's own. Otherwise, he could have respectfully declined. But as a member of the New Jedi Order. He could not leave the Shield to be the only one to mingle and act as the sole representative.
That was what he told himself. But the closer he came to the frozen world. The more he regretted that decision. This was not where he was supposed to be. These people who flicked to events like this. It was not something he was interested in. He cared little for the sharing of stories. He wasn’t one to mingle with people like this. He could not enjoy the idea of dressing himself up and socialising for the sake it it. He needed a purpose to be here. A reason.
A reason he found himself lacking. And it ate at him.
So, like with most men who had a yearning pit inside them. He made his way to the bar. Lightly adjusting the veil over his eyes as he made his way over to the bar. Leaning against it as he allowed a slightly frown to crease over his features. Through the Force he was surprised to sense at least one other familiar presence that was not currently attached to a date.
"Please tell me you're allowed to serve an actual drink. Or is it all fancy cocktails?" He asked, sightless gaze turning to the familiar Zeltron manning the bar. Surprise evident in his tone as he had two double check that it was in fact none other than Yula Perl. But ultimately, he was unconcerned. She was here for a reason undoubtably. And he was hardly going to make her lose her cover if she was currently trying to avoid notice.
Another day, another ball, gala, and formal event that he was required to attend.
Dressed down in the finest clothes he owned, at the very least the Prince would arrive to the event as immaculate as ever. He set aside his usual attire of a leather jacket, pants, and boots for an outfit that screamed regal, or something close to it at the least. Jewelry was adorned where he usually kept empty of non-essential accessories, and the woman on his arm proved the final fitting piece to complete his look for the night.
He was confident as ever as they entered the room together, flashing a confident smirk for all those attending to see. Despite his reluctance to attend these kinds of functions, Lucien was all smiles as they crossed the threshold and made their way into the crowded room of New Imperials and their allies. Many familiar faces were present, along with those who were foreign to his memory as well. He came to a stop, calling over a nearby hostess with the flash of his signature smirk and the wave of a hand.
A drink was removed off her tray, the faint smell of the cocktail being a mixture of fruity and sour. He handed it across to Auteme, just in time to feel the woman squeeze his arm a bit more tighter.
His gaze lingered upon the Jedi as she spoke, the visage of the beautiful woman at his side forcing a cheesy grin onto his face.
"I could stare at you all night, my love." He commented back, seemingly unconcerned by her inquiry regarding his colleague in the Imperial Assembly. The Warlord of Carlac was admittedly not someone he knew well, though him and Lord Halketh
had shared a few meaningful conversations in private in times past.
A kiss made its way upon her lips as Lucien pulled away from her grasp, letting her hand slide down his arm until it laced with his own. "The Warlord of Carlac is an.. enigma, I suppose." Lucien resumed their stroll through the masses, taking his time in guiding the pair towards the event's host. "I suppose he's a pretty decent guy, though. Treats his people well, and I'd consider him more of an ally within the assembly than I would pretty much everyone else."
Politics were a finicky topic- nuanced, at best, complicated at worst. The web of interfactional alliances brewing within the Order made worthy allies paramount to acquire. Lines were being drawn in the sand, and sooner than later those lines would appear more evident to even those who had no knowledge of the proceedings of the Imperial Assembly. It was all inevitable, if change was to occur within their ever-expanding empire.
But he wouldn't let these details reach the ears of his beloved.
For now, he would socialize and maintain the air of nobility that he worked so hard to perfect. Lucien stopped by the bar on their way to the host. Something brown and on the rocks made its way into a glass, smooth and mellow to the taste but strong all the same. Luc sipped at his glass, squeezing at her hand as he stepped away from the bar. "I'm pretty sure you'll notice 'em if you see him. Look for the well-dressed, somewhat mysterious guy with a blindfold. Trust me-- he stands out."
Curls of dark hair greet the crystal light cast down from chandeliers that hang from the ceiling, a man of the people. Berach's linen dress shirt's sleeves are rolled up to his elbows revealing fat, bulging veins that line swollen muscles beneath weathered fair skin. Perched on a stool at the bar, he smiles hideously towards the bartender. It was a nasty smirk, Berach hadn't been Galidraan's bare-knuckle boxing champion for no reason; long ago learning to look at every man with hatred, it help you belt the absolute living snot out of them. If necessary.
"Cheers, bruv'" Berach eyed the frothing glass of dark-coloured ale slid towards him across the oak bartop, in his right shovel of a hand he clasps the glass gently and then in a moment of weakness looks at a holopict of a young blonde-haired woman clad in a military uniform held with an uncharacteristic gentle softness in left. "Bloody proud ov you, love". Berach's deep baritone is hushed as a whisper to the still of his progeny. He stuffs it into a trouser pocket, ashamed at the welling of sadness in his breast.
Quickly, he smothered it in the bitter taste of dark beer. Berach's tired bloodshot eyes spot Erskine Barran
talking to one of those alien women. Berach thought they were right strumpets and believed that as a good bloke, he should save his comrade from the risk of falling under her spell. Berach, two men wide slides off his barstool with the subtlety and grace of a dumptruck and in his thuggish stride gaits over towards Erskine.
Carlac: industrious sister planet of Hoth, stoked into progress by hook or crook under the fiery guidance of an Imperial Warlord. Unlike the once legendary bastion of the Rebellion which these days laid mostly derelict besides the occasional radar station or training facility, Carlac was nigh cosmopolitan in comparison; it, at the very least, had cities and trade routes stemming from its surface, rather than by. Naturally, there was likely more to this world’s current status than simple luck or imperial ingenuity. Most likely, you just had to push open the right door to gaze upon the truth. The wind and snow did little to trouble her physique or psyche; she didn’t need Force tricks or cybernetics to feel at home on a world of ice —just a coat and scarf both checked in at the entryway.
Cold climed planets charmed and in some ways comforted Major Shepard down to a subconscious degree. Being born and raised on the tundral surface of Almania had accustomed her to a rugged, cold weather, survivalist lifestyle that had more in common with the Ming Po of Carlac than, say, the spoiled, conquest driven nobles of Galidraan. Of course, the Major could do little to openly reminisce about those halcyon days: her own penchant for plots, deceit, and selfishness ultimately led her down a ruinous path which terminated when she fell into a coma. Once revived merely three years ago, the damage was done: her past was little more than a mishmash of echoes and distant shades of color. Some of the sentimentality of her lost era remained and propelled the pale husk striding the corners of the galaxy, but it was no better than running a once great vessel with spent fuel rods and a damaged hyperdrive.
Hence her acceptance and attendance along the side of one Caarlyle E. Rausgeber. It wasn’t everyday that the Security Bureau Director received invitations from specters of her past; especially not ones as important to the propagation of her frankly schizophrenic career trajectory as the former First Imperial Admiral. Any lateness of arrival on her part was due to studying as much as possible about the leader of Perfsbelt Command as damaged FOSB records could provide. Preparative maintenance, in spades, to avoid having to provide a clunky explanation regarding a mercurial mental cut of amnesia. Besides, according to the records: Caarlyle Rausgeber
wasn’t one for empathy. He doubtful would attend an event with the Major if he was aware of her mental condition. Perhaps if she had internalized the bit of his records where he died and had started anew instead of treating it like homework, Sybil might realize that the pair shared a type of struggle that ironically was touched upon by almost all of Sieger Ren’s proteges and compatriots, even the new Supreme Leader herself.
Lying and hiding the past was easier, anyway.
“Ostentatious they may be, but the former Grand Moff is now the Supreme Leader,” She leaned inoffensively upon Rausgeber’s arm, tilting her head down slightly to compensate for the extra inch or so her imperial styled dress boots gave in her favor. Better to aim at the level of his ear and appear to be engaged in some conspiratorial chat. “So there may be something to these parties. Crosses me, though. These things are usually a nightmare.” A sleeveless knit dress was the way to go, since things would feel so much warmer once there were a few rounds of liquor in her. No insignia or rank was stitched upon her outfit, but she preferred to go to these things in as nondescript manner as possible. Her usually vibrant locks of ginger had been dyed platinum save for the crown of her head, giving Sybil a sort of acid washed, punk look.
Shepard nodded at his request to find a drink and was led over to a bar tended to by a Zeltron, Yula Perl
, where she then waited for a gentleman, Aaran Tafo
, dressed in a strangely padded frock tunic to receive his drink, and picked her poison.
Wearing a leather black coat over a charcoal coloured Imperial Security Bureau tunic, Arren Sareth's gloved hands sit atop a rail supporting the woman's weight, her gaze stares off into the legion of snowflakes falling steadily from the heavens. Each of her eyes stares blankly out over the wintered landscape though neither transmit the image to her mind, lost in the fantasy of a wakeful dream:
Arren's eyes look down and she sees her body clad in soot-coloured powered armour, without desiring it her feet take several steps toward a bloodied and bruised man wearing the beige robes of a Jedi Knight. Panting and squirming he crawls across a field of emerald green grass, staining it crimson with his laboured movements across it. Unable to control herself, Arren watches the distance between the two of them close.
The fiery crackling of an ignited lightsabre sounds. "Your corpse will flail in the breeze, as a pennant of your failure!" Arren's own malicious evil sends a chill down her spine. Clutching a handful of the man's white cotton tunic, Arren rolls the defeated man onto his spine and brings his frightened tremoring blue spheres towards her own narrowing pupils. "You are powerless to stop our darkness, you cannot resist my master's power."
A cold splash of Carlac's icy evening breeze pulls Arren out of their dream and she shakes her head vigorously with a gasp. The visions were getting worse, perplexed and confused. The Inquisitor is given pause by it, what did it mean if anything at all? Was this the force trying to communicate its' will, a warning or just plain old psychology? Arren didn't know, what she did know was not to communicate such things to her chain of command.
The Crown, and who wears it. Carla, the Crown of Ice
A warm reception set the interior apart from the frigid hellscape guests escaped from upon entry. It was a marvel of technology and innovation that flaunted the wealth that Imperials managed to amass even through the long standing war. A party like this one, a peaceful gesture, stood to remind the people that the Imperium was capable of more than conflict. If it could extend a modicum of peace beyond their borders, it would be all the more successful.
That was why the leaders of the Empire had to do their diligence and attend. They had to break from the war, pull back, and fully invest themselves in political avenues. That was his council to Tavlar. Show the people that you are capable of more than war, and they will begin to see you as more than a savage.
In the eyes of untested citizens, a Warrior was worth only as much blood as he could spill. His worth as a man was flayed down to the barest minimum and they dehumanized him further with notions of warmongering and vitriol. Enlil watched the man lose sleep and drown in the depths of his own mind for them, but he could not bridge the gap.
He stepped into the room after a brief consultation and glanced over the guests. Soon enough, Tavlar himself would appear somewhere in the vast sea of faces, but he could already see the likes of Caarlyle Rausgeber
and Lucien Dooku
, men who represented the highest honors that the Imperium could confer. With a warm smile, he leaned toward a man with cocktails on a platter and whispered.
"Petit Syrah?" he asked conspiratorially, "or at the least, a red with some kind of deeper flavor?"
"I'll have to ask the bartender," the youth answered honestly. "But, I'll see what I can do, sir."
"Good lad," the Grand Vizier clapped him on the shoulder, and the serving boy hurried off toward the bar to ask after finer wine.