Template:PostIn CatH Post 37 The Hopeful has arrived at the planet known as The Galactic Centre, having been escorted there by Captain Rynard and his The Majestic. She is aboard his ship and watching the urbanised world below, which, to Clear, made even Dacato seem small and underdeveloped. Even the world's moon is fully urbanised. She is contacted by the President of the Empire himself, President Skroob Polk who offers her a job rather than condemning her past. She feels she has no choice and is sent to the Mirare System. She, as an alien, can get access while no human is permitted on the station. When Aellisin Koure deems he would remain aboard her ship, Clear decides that he, being an alien too, could accompany her on her mission.
The window is long an narrow but gives a beautiful vista of the ecumenopolis world outside The Majestic. Clear was surprised that the Imperials would risk bringing an unknown and former rebel associate to their homeworld, but as she gazes at it she can see why the Galactic Empire is so arrogant. And archaic. Dacato, the primary political planet for the Rebel Alliance, had also been an ecumenopolis, with its cities encompassing the world, yet the world outside made Dacato look like a fledging society still trying to find its feet. Layers and layers of city teeter up into the upper atmosphere of the world, according to the read-outs on her PIP. The surface looks blackened and scarred with lines, lines that would be city-blocks she guesses. How people could live in such a place astounds her. She couldn't even get around her own ship. The two moons slip into view as they glide through their orbit. Much like the planet below them, they too had been transformed into machine-worlds. One of them swims close to The Majestic and she believes she can make out of the skyscrapers down there. She isn't sure if all the mountains have been dwarfed or if they've been removed by the human populace. The planet once had a name, according to the read-out again, however few used the original term. Now it is just "The Galactic Centre", which she finds a strange name as the world is certainly very far from the core of the galaxy, though it is the centre of the Galactic Empire. If there is a world more populated an urbanised than this, she never wants to see it.
The grey doors hiss open as Captain Rynard enters.
Captain Rynard: "Your are a lucky alien. You are you have an audience with our President."
Clear: "What? Here? Now?"
Captain Rynard: "On the screen."
Clear: "Oh right."
The captain sweeps his hand towards a holographic projector. A moment later it lights up with the flickering image of a man. He isn't very tall but his appearance is quite commanding. He stands with his back straight and firm and one hand tucked into the grey suit jacket he wears. His hair has gone completely grey but is still thick and long, worn tight to the skull and swept backwards where it ends at the shoulders. His skin is white and he wears a suit that reminds Clear of the Earth politicians, quite unlike most of the suits she's used to seeing here in the Perseus Arm of the galaxy.
President: "Captain Clear of The Hopeful. I've heard much about you."
Clear glances at Captain Rynard then waves at the hologram nervously. She has no idea if there's some ceremony she is supposed to address to the man. He doesn't seem concerned.
President: "I'm sure you know that I am President Skroob Polk of The Galactic Empire of the Milky Way and you have come to my attention recently."
She wonders if he's trying to impress her.
President S. Polk: "I heard of your involvement in killing Warlord Strang, is that true?"
Clear shuffles her feet.
Clear: "Not really. I was just there. I didn't know it would happen. Kiron Nightstrider killed Strang. I fled thinking I'd be blamed for Strang's death."
The man nods slowly.
President S. Polk: "Wise choice. And I am glad you weren't responsible, captain. I dislike traitors. Even traitors to my enemies. More recently I have heard how you have now drawn the ire of the Rebel Alliance. First Strang, then the rebels... I think we may be natural bedfellows."
Clear tries not to grimace at the terminology he uses.
President S. Polk: "But I have to ask you... is this new tale true?"
Clear: "Which one?"
The president closes his eyes for a moment then smiles and continues.
President S. Polk: "I'll assume that there is some truth to the tale, else you would have given a straight answer immediately. You know what the rebels accuse you of, I'm sure."
Clear tries not to hold her head in her hands.
President S. Polk: "It puts you in an interesting position. It's clear you don't like authority looming over your shoulder and I can't trust you enough to impress you into my military as Strang tried to do with you. But I can hire you, correct?"
Clear is stunned and gapes for a moment before nodding stupidly.
President S. Polk: "Excellent. I shall send details of the mission to Captain Rynard. He will escort you some of the way to ensure your safety. Once you have completed the mission you will be richly rewarded. It was a pleasure to meet you, Captain Clear. Good luck."
The hologram vanishes and Clear continues to stare at the location. She's now an employee of the president of the Empire. She hadn't expected that when she entered this room. She isn't even sure that she really wants to be his employee either. She really just wants to get out of the Perseus Arm altogether. The only tethers she has are the Æon Knights on Oeurwoud and Princess Aurora in her comatose state. Captain Rynard presses some buttons on the console and information begins to download onto her PIP. She wonders how he knew this PIP is hers but she doesn't bring up the point.
She checks the data and finds that she's now employed, though off-books. There is a system on the edge of Imperial space that claims allegiance to the Rebel Alliance and has started guerilla activities on several nearby Imperial systems. The rebels, however, haven't get admitted that the system is theirs as it lies so far out from their original territory. The reason Clear is needed for the mission is because the area only allowed aliens, non-humans, to enter the system. She grimaces. Her entire crew are human. Only she is the 'alien'. Could she do this all alone?
Captain Rynard guides her from the room.
Captain Rynard: "Quite an honour to get a mission directly from the president himself. It's quite a reputation you must have."
Clear: "An undeserved one I'm sure."
Captain Rynard: "Well, whatever the case, I'm sure you'll be well-rewarded for your service."
Clear: "I guess there's no backing out of it now?"
Captain Rynard: "Second-thoughts? Not if you want to live."
Clear: "As I expected..."
The data reveals that her primary goal is merely to gather information and see if they truly are cooperating with the Rebel Alliance or if they merely aspire to do so. She is to bring back information of any plots they may be wanting to carry out and generally act as a spy amongst them.
Captain Rynard: "It seems that General Koure intends to remain aboard your ship for the time being..."
Captain Rynard: "You don't approve?"
Clear gasps as she realised she did that aloud.
Clear: "It's not that- it's just-- I, uh..."
Captain Rynard smiles slightly, the first sign of emotion he has displayed.
Captain Rynard: "I feel the same way. Having him aboard my ship has been an inconvenience. As terrible as it is for me to say, I'm glad he'll be your burden for a while."
Clear thinks for a moment. He is an alien and an Imperial. Perhaps he could help her on this mission...
As permitted by the president and Captain Rynard, The Hopeful had docked with a repairyard and is receiving yet further repairs to its hull. Some technicians have also come aboard to fit a shield to the systems. They had some problems trying to get the power core to work with their system as it would constantly overload their machinery. Only by fluctuating the power surge from the core did they manage to get the mechanisms working. They were amazed that The Hopeful's own systems seemed able to respond to the power output of the core without overloading and why the ship is still so underpowered astounds them. Clear, tired and weary, only half-listened to them. The information went into her brain but would later for later processing. She knows what they said was important but she's too tired to think. She tried to sleep in her room but found that it alluded her.
She chose to walk the corridors and found Kokoro Lymn training with her new teacher, Aellisin Koure. She doesn't seem very keen on him but she is willing to try what he asks her to do. Clear watched for a while. After many failed attempts Kokoro finally, with a cry, causes a burst of white energy to burst from her hand in an elongated shaft and hilt. It remains there for a time before it flickers and dims. Kokoro wipes a bead of sweat from her forehead. Her teacher didn't congratulation her. He merely ordered her to sit down and for Ffion Heul to now try. Clear wondered why Ffion seems so keen on being taught by a man she would previously have scorned. To Clear he doesn't seem so bad, at least when she's around him. Cold, arrogant and abrasive but nothing as terrible as Strang.
She eventually wondered off. She saw Green carting a trolley filled with books to the library at the behest of Alexis Thrain. Clear reminded Green not to obey Alexis like a pet and Green nodded but Clear is sure it went in one ear and out the other. Then she meets Pully coming out of the Dreamviewer room.
Pully: "Hey. Where you off to, Boss?"
Clear: "Nowhere. Tired. Wandering."
Pully: "Tired? Have you tried the dreamviewer?"
Clear: "I think watching my dreams will keep me awake longer, don't you?"
Pully: "Yeah but it also helps you sleep. It plays music and wafts some kind of sleep-inducing aroma into the air. I don't know how it works. But whatever it does, it works pretty well."
Clear raises an eyebrow and peeks into the room.
Clear: "Maybe I'll give it a go!"
Pully walks back and in and shows Clear how to work the machine for herself. After she's done Pully bids Clear good-night and leaves her alone. Clear looks at the machine. A symbol of her current anxiety. She shrugs and gets in. She has already set it up for sleep and she lies down. She checks its systems as she waits for sleep to take her and finds that Kiron's dream is still there. Suddenly she drifts off to sleep and dreams... of a world exploding.
Clear rubs her eyes. She's standing in the hangar of The Hopeful waiting. And waiting. She has been sleeping well lately, using the Dreamviewer, but too many times she has also been viewing Kiron's dream. Watching it over and over. Allowing it to enter her own dreams. She can't help but watch it. Like a strange addiction. But she has to put that to the back of her mind for now. She looks out of the hangar bay doors. The view out there is like nothing she could have imagined. A supercool brown dwarf, a sun that never grew up and died, sits as small as Jupiter in the middle of space. No planets orbit it except for a ring of ice. The Hopeful is sitting between the brown dwarf and the ring beyond, giving an eerie and beautiful view. She feels like this is a lost corner of the galaxy, tucked away from the attention of everyone beyond the icy walls. The planet is too cold for normal life to exist, and yet, orbiting very close to the brown sun is a spacestation.
Koure: "My ship is already prepared."
Clear looks up the stairs to see Aellisin Koure walking down them. Clear looks over at his ship. It is a starfighter, like all Æon ships, and stands on six legs as it awaits its occupants. It is longer than the ships of Kokoro or Ffion and its tip peaks over like a beak. The wings are tight to the body, probably not expecting to fly much in the air of a planet, and its coloured blood red with a red haze across the beak. Steps appear from the ground of the hangar up to the cockpit. They appear holographic but when Clear pokes them with her boot, she finds them quite solid. She ascends first and gets into the second seat at the rear, allowing him to drive his own vehicle. He gets in and the canopy closes with a hiss. The systems boot up. She dons the helmet provided but Koure doesn't bother. He ignites the engine and the ship begins hovering with a whisper. The legs then retract and he slowly glides out of the hangar and plots a course for the spacestation. The brown dwarf gives the system its name and the spacestation imitates it. She is about to be welcomed to Mirare Station.