Part 38: Auroran - Part 07 - September 3rd, 1179 NC: Défendre la paixSeptember 3rd, 1179 NC: Défendre la paix
Off we go to blow up some Danites! We've got some serious firepower backing us up.
We show up and face down the "Dani Elite Corps," a handful of cruisers. I distract while the Warrior's Pride, Karrod's flagship, lays down the hurt.
A few pirates are even caught in the crossfire. We return to Heraan.
It is with some relief that you touch down on the landing pad. The battle against the Dani was hard fought, but you have given Techerakh more time to put his plans into action. You do feel somewhat disappointed that you couldn't just take a fleet into Dani space and crush them for attempting to harass House Heraan. But you realize that in doing so you would lack the grace required of a true warrior, and that it would be akin to entering a room by blasting a hole through the wall. Techerakh interrupts your train of thought by clapping your arm in greeting.
"I've been jabbering with Karrod," he smiles warmly, "an' he reckons that you're very good. 'Tis unfair, says he, that one as young as you is so calm and calculating in combat. But that's the way these things go, says I. We veterans like to think that we'll live forever, that there will never be anyone as good as we, but here you are, showing us a thing or two and making us feel as old as we look."
He throws his head back and laughs heartily, as he walks away to greet some of the others. You head for your bunk, but somehow the bar gets in the way, and it is with a very heavy head that you wake in the morning.
Techerakh waves to you as soon as you enter. You get the feeling that he is well in his cups, but his mood is extremely jovial. As you sit down, Karrod proffers you a large stein. You take a long pull, and gasp, eyes watering, as the strength of the booze hits you. Techerakh and Karrod laugh so hard that they almost fall from their chairs.
Once they have calmed down (and you work out that you can see straight if you squint your right eye) Techerakh explains why you are feeling the effects more than normal.
"A great warrior I know introduced me to this drink. It's called an Irish Boilermaker. A fine fellow that Archindar..." Techerakh drifts into his memories for a moment, then continues. "...anyway, we are celebrating your latest honor."
"And what honor ish that?" you slur at Techerakh, much to Karrod's amusement.
"You are being sponsored to serve with the Rimertans, my young heroine," Techerakh chuckles. "Only the greatest of warriors are allowed to do this, as it requires the sponsorship of the Thurokiir of a House. The Rimertans can always turn down the deal of course, but they have always accepted warriors from House Heraan." You are about to ask more about your upcoming assignment when Kuron and Bazara enter the bar. The night seems to blur away...
We make for Pimen.
The gathering in the council chamber is a much quieter one the next morning, as you gently sit down. Nuada and Tuatha are present, but having not joined in the celebrations of the night before, look many times better than anyone else there. Kuron clears his throat, and tells you about your next assignment.
"You are to fly to Rimerta in the Pimen system. Once there you are to speak with Lo Wang, a man of infinite wisdom and patience. He'll explain what will be required from you. Working with the Dechtakars is not easy, but you will learn much. So, good luck, and work hard. There may be some strange days ahead for you."
As you walk down the gangplank you find yourself in the most clean and efficient looking spacedock in Auroran space. You are startled to see men actually polishing the floor with tiny pieces of cloth. You turn to find a heavily tattooed man before you. You notice that his tattoos are mostly for battles with the Federation, but there are many from inter-House fighting also. You notice that there are symbols from kills accredited to all five Houses, but before you can wonder about it too much the man addresses you.
"But you're a girl of House Heraan, I am Lo Wang, and I am your sponsor here. This means that if you do not adapt quickly, you may well find yourself heading home, perhaps breathing, perhaps not. I am the leader of the Dechtakars. We are warriors without a House, devoting our lives to serving the Auroran Empire, not just to one of its subsidiary Houses. It is we who defend the Auroran State from itself, and who act as guardians of Auroran Culture. We are the buffer between Houses, stopping any blood-letting from getting out of hand. Please follow me to your lodgings. Your work will begin tomorrow."
You are assigned a Rimertan partner called Hune, of the order of the Crimson Sword. Hune explains, "While most Rimertans have some leaning toward a particular House, they are all committed to the Auroran Cause first. My father, Lo Wang, leans towards House Heraan, and was the partner to Techerakh when he served with the Rimertans. It is the start of a strange time for you, patrolling the borders of Auroran Space, serving alongside warriors from other Houses and the ever-calm Dechtakars. You will catch yourself wondering why all of Auroran Space cannot be like this, and hoping that some day it will be.
"Have a look around for a bit," he says with a smile. "there'll be plenty of time to catch up later."
This planet was colonized by members of the vast underclass of Aurorans who are poor and have no aptitude towards becoming warriors. No house claims these people, and, for the 160 billion inhabitants of this planet, the management of the First Family is all that stands between them and starvation. Because of this, young men and women from this planet who become warriors are absolutely loyal to the Empire, not to any house. They call themselves 'Dechtakars', which means 'we who sacrifice ourselves for the highest cause'. They are the only warriors who have an image of themselves on their chests as their death tattoos, for they believe that by dying in service to the Empire they will finally have lived up to their own expectations.
We're met in the bar.
Rimerta's Bar posted:
This bar is filled with quite a few young Rimertan warriors all drinking non-alcoholic drinks, a habit they picked up from their Heraan colleagues, with whom the normally aloof Dechtakars share a mutual respect.
When you enter you see Hune and Lo Wang sitting at a table near the door.
"The Dechtakars have heard of raids by houseless warriors on the frontier settlement of Kont in the Kontik system," Lo Wang informs you quietly after you sit down. "The Auroran settlers have discovered a valuable deposit of palladium, but these honorless thieves have been plundering their shipments as they leave the planet. You and Hune are charged with sorting out the culprits."
Hune looks at you strangely, "Do you accept?"
Hune flies an Abomination. It's a nice mid-range complement to our long and short-range capabilities. I mostly just use him as a bullet sponge.
Hune grins, suddenly glad and slaps you on the shoulder. "You passed the first test! Now we need to go to this cursed planet and help these silly people out."
"Cursed planet?" you ask quietly.
"It has a giant artificial ring around it," replies Hune diffidently, "and every time the scientists try to have a look at it, they end up disappearing without a trace, taking everyone else in the system with them." You look over at him apprehensively. Dying in battle in the service of the Heraan or the Empire is one thing, being swallowed up by an unknown menace is another. Hune chuckles. "Don't worry yourself, we probably will not have to be on planet for too long."
We're met by a few "pirates," actually "hardened veterans" in disguise. Nothing too hard to handle.
The last of them taken care of, we move on to the spaceport.
First Sigma Shipyards and now the Dani, these miners sell to anyone, eh? We head to Dani with 10 tons of palladium in our holds.
After fighting your way through the heavier than expected pirate presence, you manage to touch down near the settlement camp to see many men and women, obviously with little martial experience, trying to hold out these treacherous dogs from their ramshackle homes.
As soon as you and Hune enter the fray the battle turns. You both hit them with everything you have and the honorless dogs quickly give ground, and not one survives to reach the relative safety of space.
"Thank you sirs," says the grateful leader of the colonists. "We thought that we were just about to die."
"At least you chose to go down fighting," grunts Hune gruffly, obviously uncomfortable with the praise, and you grin at his discomfort.
"But we would ask of you one favor," continues the settlement leader with some trepidation, "all our spacecraft have been destroyed by the Houseless pirates, and we need to pay our sponsors back on Dani by passing on some of the palladium we have managed to acquire. Could you help us?"
You are about to snap that you are not merchants to be carrying around produce, but Hune places a restraining hand on your arms as the man shrinks from your obvious rage.
"Of course we will," he intones quietly. "True warriors are tasked to protect all the citizens of the Empire from all dangers, be they combat or mercantile based."
You have the grace to look ashamed and you immediately head back to your ship to begin loading.
It is from here that the heads of the Dani Family exert their rule over the surrounding space. Dani is heavily populated, carrying slightly more than 100 billion people. It also has a fairly large garrison of warriors, because if anybody were to defeat the warriors stationed in the Dani Himear system, they would then be only one jump away from the Dani leadership. These warriors, who all carry a great deal of experience, are under the direct command of the Mundokiir, who is the leader of the Dani warriors. They are one of the few units in Auroran space that have been given a name to identify themselves, and they are called 'Fenta-kiir', meaning 'They who fall to protect the heart'.
We're greeted. They're quite friendly considering that we wiped out their entire elite guards unit just last week.
Dani's Bar posted:
This somewhat upper-class bar is filled with warriors who have risen to positions of authority within the ranks of the Dani House. Somewhat surprisingly, despite the plush surroundings, the behavior and crude jokes are no better.
Crushed garnet is incredibly uninteresting sand - give me gem-quality crystals any day.
The sponsors of the settlers are overgracious with their thanks. They entertain you with a breathtaking feast, and send the two of you off with a barrel of Nibos, an alcohol so strong it is forbidden on some colonies. However, Hune has been giving you some lessons in drinking...
He tells you of all the different positions within the various Houses, as despite having been a warrior for some time now, you have spent most of your time wandering the galaxy in service to your House and have not had these things explained to you.
"You have the elders of the Houses who act as a ruling body of advisers," he tells you, "and then you have the Thurokiir (obsidian heart, arbiter of reckoning) and the Mundokiir (heart of crushed garnet, the eye of fury). The easiest way to think of it is that the Mundokiir is the military head of the warriors of his or her house, in charge of protecting against any of the purely physical dangers. The Thurokiir on the other hand is the spiritual head of the warriors of his or her house, in charge of protecting against any of the more nefarious threats to their house, be they spiritual, threats to the house's honor, or even espionage and sabotage."
"Often the Mundokiir and Thurokiir will end up working together," Hune finishes, slightly slurring his words due to the copious quantities of Nibos beer you have both imbibed. "They do this to protect the House in every possible way. The warriors are their pawns to use to defend their House as best they can - some of them are more valuable than others, but ultimately they are just pieces of the house's defense."
Somehow the thought that you are just a block in the defensive wall of the Heraan house fills you with pride. Your role may or may not be large, but without you, that wall would be harder to keep strong, and that makes your whole life worthwhile.
"Anyway, " Hune mutters drunkenly, "we need to get back to Rimerta to receive any further missions that might be required of us.
With that he drunkenly staggers off towards his ship.
These tests seem pretty simple. Are they ever going to get more difficult? Next time: No.