Alisandria Cliffs Underground
0002hrs 08 December 3080
Arione caught the charm that was tossed at him and gave a look.
It was in the form of the Blood Spirits symbol, the fancy templar-like cross with the gemstone-like décor within each arm. The central gem was an actual gem, this one the yellow of a citrine. From his past run ins with the Spirits over the years, he knew the central colors had meaning as they dictated who you worked for among their hierarchy.
Red was for the information gatherers, the more spy-centric among them. Blue was for the more direct-action members and Green was for the explorers and technical types…. And he’d never seen a yellow. Mind you, every single member of that group was very capable in the commando or spy realm. Just some were better at specific areas than others.
Flipping it over, he read the inscription.
Be safe and well on your adventure out there. If you need me, I’ll be there.
Arione closed his eyes. “Fuck.”
Darren looked between the two of them and asked. “Ok… the symbol I know, which is why I said what I said. Who’s Uncle A?” He’d only been a member of the group for a few years and didn’t know the complete history between the two organizations.
Adara answered him. “The Blood Spirits are part of the Phoenix Lancers, Darren, but not always. Their original head was a woman by the name of Birgitta Drexel. You’d have loved her; all regal and Viking-looking; at over two meters tall with sharp features and blonde, a frigging recruitment poster model for Rasalhague if there was ever one, even though she’s as Lyran as they come. She was also one of the most competent commandos outside of any House military…. If she had been a mech jockey, she’d have kicked Kai Allard all over Solaris in his prime,” she said with admiration. “Yeah, I was a goddamn fangirl.”
A pause “She recruited the equally skilled, be they spies or commandos… and she had no lack of folks trying to join, because she gave them a REASON to do what they did rather than because a government said so. Apolitical as hell…
I know I tried to join them… but at sixteen, I was too young. Her Standards for membership was pretty strict and you had to be a bit older than the norm for joining… I hated that but I’ve gotten to understand the reasons for them better now that I have some experience.” She shrugged. “I figured being a military brat and martial artist would be enough. I was wrong.”
Darren blinked. “Sixteen?”
Adara smiled. “Yep. Told you I was a fan girl… and I wanted to be like her. Like I said, she was super competent… and lucky. At least until the Word of Blake hit Centarus in ’68. Anyways, she had an attack dog of a commando among her group that made her look utterly peaceful. If I’m right, that would be Uncle A.” She said. “Argyle McCoy…”
Arione finished. “And he is quite not here…” He said quickly. “Thankfully. But it still presents a problem.” He held the charm up. “If he isn’t, who is and do they know?”
Caelan spoke up from where he lounged. “Whelp, bossman… I think we might want to find out ‘cause if she isn’t here alone, things might get a wee ticklish.”
“Ayeyup.” Caelan said laconically. “Might want to ask Rhiannon and see if she knows anything. You know drop ship captains know shit…”
Adara nodded. “I think that’s a good plan… what about the others?”
Arione glanced at his watch. “Our relief is due at zero-six; I will have a plan of action by then… and maybe some additional answers to be had for some questions that are cropping up in my brain about all this…” He turned to the console to revert back to normal operations in here. “The more we are here, the more I have questions that likely have answers I don’t want.” He sighed. “I have a long day ahead… and I’m not looking forward to it.”
Lancer Mechworks offices
Technical Services Building Delta
Galatea Hiring Hall, Galatea City
1331 hours, 08 December 3080
Jon Richards sat at Amelia’s desk in the offices and held his head. It had been a very long night of phone calls and explanations about what was known pertaining to Amelia’s kidnapping. And it was damn little, unfortunately.
Paddy Muldoon had called him about three hours after he left the scene. Carmichael had gotten the requested video and a piece of the vehicle tag had shown. A large amount of data searching had been done and just after a match was found, the car was discovered about two blocks from the spaceport, a burning wreck. Video from THAT incident was still being sifted through to see if a driver could be identified.
Uncle Joe had been very quiet when told the news. After a moment, the mafia don told him that anything he could do to assist the authorities in their search would be done…. And if needed, some specialists would be called to deal with anything they could not. Jon wasn’t sure which scared him more- that Uncle Joe was so calm or that he was more than willing to cooperate with the cops. After a bit thinking on it, he came to the conclusion that being willing to cooperate might be scarier. Whoever these guys were, having both Galatea City PD and the Mob looking for you was not a good thing.
After those calls had been made/fielded, he went back to the office to look at the last bunch of contracts for clues. Not that he expected any to crop up but it didn’t hurt. And he just wasn’t finding anything of the recent stuff. On a hunch, he started looking through the files of the No Deal offers and his eyes settled in on the MAS offer.
Tapping a few keys, he pulled up the file and the screen-cap shots of those who had come to negotiate. Studying the faces, Jon’s eyes focused on one of them, a gent with a handlebar mustache and slicked back hair. Studying the picture, he leaned back and thought about that bunch.
The reps from MAS had approached them with a request for some work for their armored vehicles, a series of hovercraft bult by HK Group and small arms refurbishment. They also had some mechs they wanted work on, mostly damaged Blakist machines that hadn’t been pressed back into service with someone. When Jon had run their credentials and did a history search, the number of discrepancies had been large- almost 40% of the info given on service history didn’t add up and there were a few correlations between their history and that of some of the known Merc units that had openly sided with the Word of Blake.
It was that, along with a bit of hand jewelry that clued him in on their leanings… and that saying no was completely the way to go. The ring on one of them was something he had seen on a Blakist Precentor a few years ago when the Word forces had been beaten here; the latin symbol for Rho. Wondering if there was a possible match, he took the pictures and sent copies to Muldoon’s net mail. He’d get them to Carmichael and if there was something, he knew the detective would tell him.
Just after he sent the mail, he heard a rather solid knocking on the door to the offices. Looking up at the monitor feed for the main entrance, he saw a rather solid and voluptuous woman standing outside, clad in what for all the worlds looked like a sea-captains greatcoat and a Pirate Captain’s hat, complete with a big ol’feather. “What the ever-loving fuck?” He asked aloud as he got up and went to the intercom panel. With a touch, he activated it. “Can I help you?”
The voice that came back across was pleasant. [Oh I think so… though I think I might be the one to help you out a bit…] The woman’s voice was a bit whisky-sounding and she looked up at the camera with a smile. [I think I have some valuable news you might have a good bit of interest in… considering what happened last night. Might I come in?]
Jon blinked. Ah holy shit… he thought as he grabbed the heavy slug thrower from the desk and tucked it in the small of his back. “Gimme a minute…” He said into the intercom.
[Oh no worries…] She replied evenly. [Its broad daylight out here so I think I’ll be alright.]
Jon raised an eyebrow. That was a warning about being watched if he ever heard one. Grabbing his comunit, he sent a quick text on his way to the door then pocketed the device. Arriving at the door, he unlocked it and ushered in the woman. Re-locking, he turned to face her and motioned to the deeper areas of the offices. “Message received…”
The Woman nodded. “Oh good…” She replied. “Charlie O’Neil from the Saint’s Row said you were a man of the streets and would know a warning when it was heard. Name’s Rhiannon Arkanian….” She held out a hand. In doing so, it opened her coat some and the end of a sawn-off shotgun could be seen holstered on a hip.
Jon smiled at the name of O’Neil as he took her hand, noting the hardware she wore on her hip. “Jon Richards… Pleased to meet’cha.” He said. “Charlie is a good guy for a broken-down barge captain, and if he told you anything like that, you may just have something of interest for me.”
“Well… I’m pretty certain you want what I got, honey…” Rhiannon smiled seductively. “Though I doubt y’all are gonna be happy how it came to me.” Reaching into a pocket when they reached a room with seats and a desk, she set the anklet charm on the table.
Jon saw the charm then looked at Rhiannon square in the eyes. “You are a fairly wise woman,” he began. “And I would love to hear the story on how you got that.” There was no menace in his tone but only a fool would think it wasn’t there. And she was not…
“Oh, believe me… there are days I question my sanity and wisdom, honey…” She began. “Most of the time its ‘cause of my love but I remember I love him for reasons… and he’s the one who gave me this. And it’s not for reasons you might think…”
“Please have a seat… and would you care for something to drink. We are going to be here a bit while the local exterminators find those rats you mentioned.” Jon commented with a slight smile. If the guy he texted was not busy, whomever was watching the offices would be taken care of soon.
“Don’t mind if I do… and anything will be fine.” Rhiannon replied with a smile. “Where to begin…. Oh yes…. My part in all this started about five hours ago….”
Rhiannon hit her head on a compartment cowling when she was surprised by her name being shouted in the engine room and cursed inwardly before replying. “What?”
Arione came into view as she backed out of the compartment. “Rhi… we have a problem,” he said. “And its going to require some finagling to get out of it.”
Grabbing a rag, she wiped her hands. “What now?” She asked. “Who did Adara kick the crap out of this time or did Caelan piss off someone with an army?” Standing up, she caught the look on his face and noted there was no smile at her joking question. None at all. “Arione?”
He stood in the passageway of the engineering section and held out his hand. Within it was two items. One was the anklet and the other was a shoulderflash from a Word of Blake uniform. “This.”
She stared… “Okay… which is the problem?” She asked and realized right away, they were likely both. But for what, she could only guess. She knew the anklet symbol- she’d been with AG for over a decade and had been there for everything for the last ten years. Including *that* job.
“Our employers are connected to everyone’s boogieman,” referencing the patch. “and the other is a prisoner of the former. And we are her jailers.”
Rhiannon stared. “Shit….”
“Understatement,” he said. “Adara is pretty sure there are other members of the Sprits or at least Lancers here on planet- hell, they have that Tech Office at the Merc Hall… and they will be looking for the prisoner. And if a means of getting her out AND extracting us from the clutches of the Word isn’t come up with, the AG is done… along with her.” A pause. “We didn’t kidnap her. But we both know they won’t care about that if she’s found with us in a rescue…. And getting her free on our own, while the right thing, could finish us if it goes wrong just as much as being found employed by Blakist symps. If I can avoid killing us, great…”
If anyone knows who to talk to, it would be you. Drop Ship Captains just know things… and we’ve been here long enough for you to know who is who… or where to ask.” He smiled. “It’s what you do.”
Rhiannon leaned against a stanchion “Geeze…. Ask for much do ya?” She groused slightly, her mind going over all the other captains in port and the handful of barfly soldiers she had *befriended* in the last few months. “I think I know someone… who knows someone. Yeah, I think I gotta line. I’m gonna need that charm though.”
Arione handed it to her, and his very stoic face softened. “Rhi… I know I don’t get it right all the time. But right now, what I thought was right for the group isn’t… and in doing the right thing here does us in, I’m sorry for it. The four of us talked it out this morning when we left, especially after Caelan found that patch.” He sighed.” We are going to get the girl out… but it won’t be easy. Best means is via this ship off the cliff pad. But we need a distraction. Adara is with the rest of the family at the warehouse explaining things to them… ‘cause they might be it. This is straight out of a damn tri-vid.”
Rhiannon held up a hand to his face and cupped his chin. “Hon… I get it and yeah it is. Its also kinda fucked up they-“ she held up the charm- “are involved in this too like some sort of Damocles Sword if we get it wrong… but if I remember anything about them, they honor debts. We know we aren’t the reason she got taken… so we will be fine there. But we gotta do the thing to risk the thing to maybe get a thing, eh? Ya brain is borrowing trouble.”
Arione smiled back at her. “No… I’m not borrowing trouble. This is one of those times I know what we are in the middle of and how crazy it will get. We might not be finished because of it… but I will be damned if I go home in shame.” He shook his head with a laugh. “Got took by a pretty sales pitch and delusions of riches… I’m supposed to be the guy that does that to others, not the one who falls for it.”
She laughed with him. “Yeah well… nobody’s perfect.” Leaning forward, she kissed him. “Go on, git. I need to close up baby here and go find a person or three who know some things. Before you go back on, we will have something of a plan… If hovering on a vtol pad like it’s some kind of Great Escape scene out of a Felix Bond film is what we do, then that’s what we do… And it is kinda sexy exciting….”
Arione laughed as he took her hand and kissed the knuckles. “It is, my love, it is… Before we go on shift, you will have a time on your comm unit. When I have more so will you. Please let me know if you are successful…”
“Oh, I will. If nothing else, I’m certain there is a place for me to set down afterward and hide if needed. It’s a big planet…”
“…. So you see, we do have something of a plan,” She finished as the last drops of the scotch Jon poured her was consumed. “Arkanian Group had NO part in your girl’s disappearance. But we are going to have a part in getting her out. Our worry is how bad we are going to take it in the teeth. No body outside of a House Unit is escaping repercussions from associations with the Word, even if it was accidentally done. Fucking shell corporations…”
Jon leaned back as his comm unit chimed. Pulling it, he looked at the message on it and smiled. “Sounds like what you got is the best you can get on short notice, plan wise.” He said as he stowed his comm. “If I may, you were spot on about the rats. I was informed they have been dealt with.”
“Oh good…” She replied. “Charlie WAS right about you…”
Jon smiled again. “As for your plan… I think I can help. I have a few calls to make but depending on the answers I get, you might want to load those not working on your ship for the extraction. I might manage to find you a distraction. I’ve an uncle who is a little perturbed right now and would like something to take his annoyance out on. And I think you just gave me something to satisfy that….”
Rhiannon chuckled. “Keeping family happy can be hard; glad to have helped?”
“I think you did,” He said. “Give me your contact code; when I have an answer, I will let you know so you can plan accordingly.”
Rhiannon produced a pen and paper then scrawled her comm code on the paper. Handing it to Jon, she said, “That’s my personal one; if I don’t answer, its not because I’m ignoring you. I’m probably neck deep in something and can’t.”
“Noted,” He said and rose from his seat. When she did the same, he escorted her to the door. “A pleasure having this discussion with you, Captain Arkanian…” He said with a smile. “Should things pan out, it will be a pleasure doing further business with you.”
Rhiannon giggled. “Oh, the pleasure is all mine, honey… And its Rhiannon for personal stuff. I’m certain we will see each other again sometime soon…” She exited through the door when Jon opened it. “Laters!”
“Later,” He replied and relocked the door. Heading back to the desk, he grabbed his comm unit and called a number from memory. When it was answered, he spoke. “Uncle Joe, its Jonathan…. I believe I have something that will make everyone happy… and get Amelia back…”