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In CatH Post 88 Clear, Pully, Falcon Zac and Ohqeanos are still in the Earth Embassy after CatH Post 87 but are now joined by Polly Simon, who is Ohqeanos' wife and a member of the Jupiterian royal family. She introduces him, for the first time, to his adult granddaughter who goes by the name Chronos. Chronos is joined by two agents, Frankie Burton and a shy girl named Rain. Polly wants to meet with the Jupiterian Ambassador but Ohqeanos is forced to tell her of his recent murder. Instead Clear offers to take Polly to the Jupiterian Embassy where she might meet someone of importance, which also gives Ohqeanos some personal time with his newly met granddaughter. The agents also join Clear to give Chronos some space. En route to the Jupiterian Embassy it strikes the time for the ST Clan member guarding Clear to be switched. Falcon Zac is replaced by Ms Mezz, an orion and the instructor for the ST Clan. She is a mage and though she insists she is not a slaver, like most orions, Polly doesn't trust her. Clear, however, is willing to give her a chance.

Post

Family Values

The doors to the ambassador's office burst open. Falcon Zac jumps and turns on his heel to face the sudden intrusion.

Falcon Zac: "Identify yourselves."

Woman: "Out of my way, lackey."

Ambassador Simon: "It's alright. She's here to see me, not Ambassador Clear. She's safe. Mostly..."

Falcon Zac steps aside but he watches the group dubiously. The woman leading the group is a tanned, youthful woman with ginger hair that verges on being brunette. She's wearing khaki clothes, from her shirt to her long shorts. Only her military grade boots are black. She's obviously ready for a trek rather than a council meeting. She makes a cursory glance around the room but appears uninterested in her surroundings. Clear thinks the woman seems to think she owns the place and nowhere will ever be good enough. Ohqeanos rises from his seat and Clear sees a deep warmth in his eyes.

Ambassador Simon: "I didn't expect to see you so soon, Polly."

Polly: "My husband becomes ambassador of Earth, I think that's reason enough to come and see you."

Clear can't help but look from the young woman to the old man and back again. Cradle snatcher.

Ambassador Simon: "Well..."

Polly: "Honestly I-- I just wanted to see you... like this. Standing. Whole. You do seem... more vibrant."

Ohqeanos smiles, his eyes sparkling.

Ambassador Simon: "Thank you. I feel vibrant. I haven't felt this alive since we were young."

Clear silently groans. Someone else who has defied ageing. She's starting to think this anti-ageing stuff needs to be made available to the public since so many seem to have it.

Polly and Ohqeanos seem to be happy for a moment before awkwardness sets in. Clear sees that there's tension enough that it's almost a tangible wall between them. Two people who have shared everything but now can't seem to find that closeness again. Clear thinks there's a romance novelin the making. To pierce the awkward tension, Polly introduces the people she's with;

Polly: "This is Rosebud. She's the granddaughter I told you about."

Clear thinks the family separation must have been really bad if he never even met his own granddaughter. The woman Polly introduces has one of those faces that seems to defy age recognition. She looks like she could be very old or very young. She, unlike her grandparents, has black skin and very black hair. A shock of crimson red runs through the forelock, while the rest of her long hair is tied up using a lock of her own hair. The intricate design is meant to look quite punkish and messy but Clear is certain it must take hours to put together each morning. Though their skin tones differ wildly, Clear thinks that Rosebud has the very same eyes that her grandfather has - the same hazel iris and the lines at the temples that cause their eyes to 'sparkle' when they smile.

Chronos: "I'm actually called Chronos these days. Ignore nana."

Ambassador Simon: "Nana? That's nice you call her that."

Chronos: "I'm to call you grandpapi, apparently. I hope that sits well with you?"

The old man laughs.

Ambassador Simon: "Grandpapi will do just fine. You can call me anything you like. I'm just happy to finally meet you."

Chronos gives an enthusiastic smile and embraces her grandfather. Clear looks to Pully and they share a desperate, wide-eyed 'we're intruding' moment.

Chronos: "I didn't expect you to be so warm..."

Ambassador Simon: "Sorry about your grandmother. She can be cold as ice on the outside, but I assure you she has a very warm heart inside. Especially when it comes to her children. That's why your mother always got as much cake as she could manage."

Chronos: "Lucky Jupiterians don't get so fat then, eh?"

Clear had almost forgot that Ohqeanos said his wife was Jupiterian. Clear looks at the woman again. Her appearance could be the manipulation of her physical form, like Jteff had done, to just look younger. If Clear has been following right Chronos' mother is half-Jupiterian. No mention of the father but if he's not a Jupiterian and is a human, Clear wonders if Chronos has any of the Jupiterian transformation abilities or not.

Chronos: "These two work for me, by the way. Agents Burton and Rain."

Agent Burton: "How do you do."

The second agent appears to shy to say hello. She hangs back behind the older, taller woman called Burton and peeks out. She appears young with a youthful, rounded face and bob-cut purple hair. Clear is certain that Agent Burton is human but she isn't sure about Rain. Burton's hair is worn in an upknot but it then cascades down, over her shoulders, in tight dark curls. Flecks of grey throughout her hair belie her age. She wears a black shirt with a black corset, which narrows her waist. Clear has seen corsets before and knows the damage they do to the body. Why any woman would wear one is beyond Clear. Frankie also has a black skirt on, which has a gauze underlay that pokes out from the hem of the cotton skirt. She has tall, black, military boots with incredibly high heels. This woman must be a masochist with those heels and that corset. Rain has a similar outfit but she has black trousers instead of a skirt and while she has a bright red tie, Burton has a red cravat. Underneath Burton's cravat can just be seen a green pendant hanging from a silver chain.

Clear doesn't know what organisation they're from but Chronos is evidently the boss. She, however, isn't wearing any kind of traditional formal suit. Instead she's wearing a thick, dark cloak that hangs in close over her shoulders leaving only a narrow slit of her body to be seen. There she is wearing a brown, cloth dress that is low cut and hangs very loose, tied with a simple sash.

Chronos: "I'm really just here to meet you though, grandpapi. Maybe we could go for dinner or something? Get to know each other?"

Ambassador Simon: "That would be wonderful! I was just finished talking with Ambassador Clear anyway."

He sweeps his hand in Clear's direction.

Ambassador Simon: "The last living Martian in the galaxy. A living legend."

Clear chokes.

Ambassador Clear: "You really shouldn't introduce me like that. I'm just Clear."

Chronos puts her hand on her hip.

Chronos: "Anyone that introduces themselves as 'just' anything always turns out to be the most important person in the galaxy."

Ambassador Simon: "Aha! A woman after my own heart. I know exactly what you mean and you are dead right. This woman is a magnet for trouble, I can tell you."

Pully: "Okay, that is true."

Chronos: "You know, we could all for a meal together? Make it a party? First to get absolutely drunk has to pay the bill."

Clear: "Free dinner for me then!"

Agent Burton: "Wouldn't be too sure of that, ambassador. I reckon me and Rain'll give you a run for your money. Right Rain?"

Agent Rain: "I don't like drinking."

Agent Burton: "Spoilsport."

Polly: "Actually I need something from you first, Ohqeanos."

Clear feels as disappointed as she expects Ohqeanos must. Chronos is here to see her grandfather but his own wife is here wanting something. Ohqeanos makes a stoic attempt to mask the hurt with such a straight face that proves its own façade.

Ambassador Simon: "And what is that?"

Polly: "An introduction to the Jupiterian Ambassador."

Clear sighs heavily while Pully scoffs.

Pully: "Good luck with that."

Polly: "What is that supposed to mean?"

Ambassador Simon: "You've come at a very bad time. The ambassador was just murdered recently. Ambassador Clear was almost dead too."

Chronos: "Trouble out here already? So much for political peace and stability."

Ambassador Simon: "Give us time, Chronos. And truthfully the attack was not politically motivated."

Clear cups her face in her hands. She hates feeling responsible for the deaths around her. Everyone that's died, she feels like she killed them by just being there. Kaptin Kwanza, Sega and the orions had been there for her and Jteff was killed instead.

Polly: "There must be somebody in charge over there. Can you at least take me to the embassy? I should be able to get someone to listen to me once I'm there. I am of the royal line after all."

Clear's interest perks up at that.

Clear had assumed the royal family had all died on Jupiter, hence it became a republic. But here stands a member of the dynasty and yet the empire isn't in her hands.

Clear: "I could introduce you, if you'd like.

She spoke before she realises what she's saying. The moment she says it is the moment she regrets it. Once again she's about to throw herself into a political war.

Ambassador Simon: "Are you sure--?"

He seems to want Clear to back down, perhaps wanting to spend time with his wife, but Clear knows a better option when she sees it. For his sake.

Clear: "You can spend time with your granddaughter, while I take your wife over to the embassy."

Chronos: "Hey, now that is a good plan."

Polly: "Maybe your agents should come with us, my girl? If the ambassador has been attacked before--"

Falcon Zac: "That's what I'm here for, lady."

Polly looks at Falcon Zac with a frown.

Polly: "A mercenary?"

The words fall like spit.

Clear: "He is very thorough, Mrs Simon."

Clear doesn't know why she feels the need to defend Falcon Zac and his organisation but she doesn't want to see this powerful woman chew him out and leave his pride in tatters.

Polly: "Maybe..."

Agent Burton: "We should go with Mrs Simon anyway. Give you some room, chief."

Chronos: "Fine by me."

Polly: "Right. Ambassador Clear, lead the way."

Clear gets up and catches the eye roll that Pully gives. Clear had almost forgotten her body isn't in the best of shape and winces as she staggers away from the sofa. Polly's eyes slip from Clear to the table and she saunters over. She peruses the snacks available.

Polly: "You always did have a sweet tooth, Ohqeanos."

Ambassador Simon: "That's why I married the best cook in the solar system."

Polly manages a smirk.

Polly: "I am pretty handy with a rolling pin."

She leans down and takes a battenberg.

Polly: "Off we go then."

A moment later and the group exit the Earth embassy. Ohqeanos Simon leads his granddaughter off to the right while Clear leads the rest of the group to the left. Before they get very far, however, Falcon Zac pipes up;

Falcon Zac: "Ambassador, it's time to change shifts. I'll be leaving now."

Clear: "Oh right. Where's your replacement?"

She doesn't see another mercenary agent present and actually finds she's annoyed by the tardiness. She is paying for this service, even if she doesn't really want it.

Voice: "I'm here."

Clear jumps at the voice and everyone turns to see a shimmer in the air. It begins to coalesce into a solids state - a person.

Polly: "Transforming yourself into pure aether? That's a dangerous trick..."

The woman stands before them now. She's tall, with long legs giving her much of her height, and has very soft, black hair that bunches around the shoulders. She has large, earnest eyes but a patronising smile. Her skin is a dark tone of green.

Clear: "An orion? Are you kidding me, Zac?"

Woman: "Just because some orions attacked you, doesn't mean we'll all attack you."

Polly: "Your people do promote slavery though. I think that's reason enough to distrust you."

Clear is always surprised to find Jupiterians more distrustful of alien races than she is herself.

Clear: "Can you really blame me?"

Woman: "I suppose not. I'm Ms Mezz. You trusted Falcon Zac so you can trust me. I'm the instructor for the ST Clan. I taught him how to protect you."

Polly: "Mercenary, mage, orion. None of these are good qualities in my book."

Agent Burton: "And the blighter did just sneak up on us."

Ms Mezz: "Mercenary, yes. I'm well paid by the ambassador here. Mage, yes I am long practised in the arcane arts. Orion, yes but I am no slaver and I aim to protect you from my own kind. I can be trusted, ambassador. You paid me to do that."

Clear: "My trust is earnt, not bought. You better turn out to live up to this honourable mercenary brand you guys are promoting."

Polly: "You're going to take her with us? Back to the place that her kind tried to murder you?"

Clear pauses and looks at Ms Mezz.

Clear: "She deserves the chance."

She glances at Pully.

Clear: "Humans destroyed our worlds but I trust some of them with my life. I'll give Ms Mezz the same opportunity."

Ms Mezz: "I knew you would."

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