Chapter Four: City of Spires (Part 1)   1 comment

The pilgrims spent another week on Kish, making the rounds and soliciting alms for their pilgrimage. On the night before their departure, a grand party was held. Here, Sir Victor was introduced to Countess Adorna Choi Seng Li Halan, whom Prince Flavius intended to send on the pilgrimage in the deceased Lady Corezza’s place. Adorna was struck mute by a childhood malady, leaving her shy and withdrawn. Victor greeted her with all courtesy regardless and introduced her to the other pilgrims.

Countess Adorna Li Halan

Prince Flavius chartered a diplomatic liner to convey them to Criticorum, the next leg of their journey. The pilgrims made the trip without incident – a welcome relief after their last jump – and docked at the spaceport of Acheon. A flitcar conveyed them through Acheon’s towering spires and dense city blocks to a Li Halan compound, where they were granted a luxurious suite.

Here the party split up. Captain Manx went to track down a pilot who could convey them to Kordeth, the Ukari homeworld, one of the last leads he had on his son. Since he wanted a pilot who would claim to fly the pilgrims to Shaprut but would secretly ferry them where he wanted, he needed to scrounge in “Little Urth,” the seedy levels of Acheon beneath the city’s smog banks. He stopped off at the local Muster office first to recruit some hired muscle. En route to the lower levels, however, Manx’s goons tipped him off to a tail – the same thugs who had trailed him on Sutek! Marveling at how they’d caught up with him, Manx devised a plan to turn the tables.

Sir Victor took Lady Maryam, Brother Sand and Acolyte Gwinn with him to the estate of Duke Ivan ibn Hatar il-Aqsa al-Malik, Lady Corezza’s father. He conveyed the news of Lady Corezza’s death in person, calling on Brother Sand and Acolyte Gwinn to corroborate his story. Duke Ivan’s reaction was odd, alternating between doting civility and the elaborate metaphors in which the al-Malik are known to talk. His mood grew chillier when Sir Victor exclaimed out loud that an item was missing from Lady Corezza’s effects – the relic she had given her life to obtain.

Duke Ivan al-Malik

Engineer Fannagus was examining this relic back at their apartments: the quantum core, a processor that ran an entire arcology. Rigging up a means to interface the quantum core with his own think machine, Fannagus was rewarded for his efforts with a burst of code. He was delighted to learn that it was a language he recognized – a late derivative of Suprema – and went on a sixteen-hour research spree. He emerged from his room, blinking and unshaven, to realize that everyone else had left, including Fez.

Sir Victor had a private audience with Duke Ivan, who made clear how little he thought of Victor’s improbable story. He suggested that paying for Lady Corezza’s funeral would go a long way to smoothing over the ill feeling. Victor agreed, asking for time to gather funds and solicit aid from other members of the Criticorum nobility. Since al-Malik funerals are renowned for their opulence, he would need all the help he could get.

Captain Manx lured his shadowers into a utility stairwell and sent his bodyguards out of sight. He confronted the thugs following him head on, demanding to know “what in the name of the inky-black demon-infested space between the stars do you think you’re doing?” The thugs blustered back at him, gloating that he’d made a bad enemy in Major Lexa Cassardi. Manx was wondering how to act on this bit of intel when two muffled reports and the thump of two bodies distracted him. A stealthy Ukari assassin emerged from the stairwell, his weapon trained on Manx. This was Utashki, whose name Manx had overheard in his drumming-out over a year ago.

Utashki

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Posted November 7, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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One response to “Chapter Four: City of Spires (Part 1)

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  1. Pingback: Chapter Four: City of Spires (Part 2) « Fading Suns: Road to Nowhere

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