Leg Post 106 continues the political machinations of the Remnants Sector, wherein the space pirate, Blackmane, is in a High Imperial prison after being captured in Leg Post 104. He is in a cell alongside several other captured pirates, including the grey named Kulimm. He finds her to be unwarrantedly arrogant. When their captor, the drow named Meridian, arrived, Kulimm instantly struck up an act but was shot almost immediately by Meridian. Blackmane was shocked at the icy display but confessed to being Blackmane and she wanted to interrogate him. He insisted on bravado, which Meridian stood and waited to pass. She even sat down and waited until, finally, he looked the fool and he kept his mouth shut. She took him to the interrogation room, where she told him he wold stay for a while before she released him; giving the impression to the other pirates that he had made a deal and was free to go, encouraging them to do the same. He managed to draw her into an ideological argument over the freedoms of the High Empire, or lack of them in Blackmane's mind, with Meridian displaying unwaivering support for the former Highemperor. She leaves him there and retires to her room, where she orders Kulimm to be healed and apologies given to her so that she would be more co-operative during interrogation. She returned her antique firearm to its locker; she kept many old things due to her being a clone and not living in ages past, as most drow do due to the over-soul. Elsewhere on the dominarium of the Remnant Sector, Pollos met with Proconsul Kim. Initially Kim talked of the rare cards for the Daughters of Highemperor Cards, some of which were exceptionally rare and sentimental throughtout the Remnant Empire due to the demise of those daughters. Then Pollos led Kim to meet with a new recruit. Kim mistook the stranger for the Highemperor himself, but it is revealed this is Citizen Rex who was last on Earth as a superhero. Pollos knew that the simplistic nature of Citizen Rex would mix with Kim's simple personality, and the two of them did hit it off instantly. This would strengthen Pollos' political power, despite the setback against his rival, Qemik, in Leg Post 104.
Love Live the King, Baby
Blackmane was sat on the bench of his cell, picking at his teeth with his tongue. He fixed his eyes on the guard, unwaveringly, who stared back, equally unwavering. Initially, Blackmane had thought this would be a fun game to play, but he soon came to realise that this was not the kind of guard he was used to. This guard was more like the hardcore royal guards who were not guards at all, but soulless machines.The man stood like a statue. Unblinking. Motionless. Blackmane didn’t think the man was even breathing.
Now, Blackmane knew he was going to lose this contest and, even worse, the guard would laugh at him – but only on the inside. His dead glare would continue on and on, but Blackmane would see the laughter behind the veneer!
Kulimm: “Can’t they just hang us already? Or are they going to let us die of boredom?”
Blackmane didn’t like this one. She was obnoxious and arrogant, but none of the talent that warranted it. Some people were vain because they were beautiful. Some people were elitist because they were intelligent. This Kulimm was below average in every way, and yet she thought herself the bee’s knees. Blackmane could tell that she was trying to impress him with her aura of cool, but he was choosing to ignore her beyond a few acknowledgements of her presence. There were others of her entourage in the cell, but they seemed to blame her for their capture. He couldn’t criticise her for that point, since he was subject to the same treatment by his own people.
Most of the pirates had been wiped out. A decisive cull in the Coaleshion space pirates. He had been kicking himself ever since The Scion of Divinity first blasted back into the system. He should have known. An easy target, ripe for the picking. It was too good to be true. But he had grown accustomed to good information from the insider in the High Empire. Everyone knew it was Pollos, the man barely did anything to hide that fact, but the information never came directly from the source itself, as a means of covering his tracks. Blackmane wondered if someone down the food chain had made the mistake, but he doubted it. No, this was a set-up. Pollos was a sneaky bastard, but it turned out that Qemik was a sneaky bastard too.
Just as Blackmane thought he was about to cave, and surrender the staring contest to the guard, steps came down the corridor, thus allowing him to bow out gracefully with the fair excuse of something else happening. Both he and the guard knew who would have won, but knowing who would have won and actually having won were two different things.
Meridian: “This is the pirate leader?”
Blackmane intended to pause and then lazily saunter over to the High Imperial officer to casually concede that he might be the man in question.
That was his intention, at least, but his slow response gave Kulimm the opportunity to leap in.
Kulimm: “I could be considered one of the leaders.”
Meridian: “Is that so?”
Kulimm: “They call be Terror of the Seven Voids! I have ravaged entire systems! I have sto—what’re you doing? Wait!”
Kulimm reeled on the floor from the hole in her leg. Meridian returned the gun to its holster on her hip. It was a traditional piece from Caledonian history. It would never stand up to armour, but on flesh it still worked just fine.
Blackmane: “Whoa. That was cold as ice!”
Meridian: “You would be Blackmane, I assume?”
Blackmane eyed Kulimm, who was whimpering to herself.
Blackmane: “Depends on whether the answer will get be shot.”
Meridian: “If you’re not, I’ll shoot you.”
Blackmane: “Then I guess you found me out!”
Meridian: “You’re going for a little trip to the interrogation room.”
Blackmane: “Look, you’re cute and all, for a tiny, ape-creature, but I prefer to stick to my own species.”
The drow shook her head with disappointment.
Meridian: “Pirates always want to do this the hard way…”
She put a hand on her gun, but Blackmane jumped to his feet. His boots slapped heavily against the cold, hard floor.
Blackmane: “I suppose there’s a first time for everything! I mean, you’ve probably got all the right bits, yeah? Or not! I’m open to tentacles right about this point!”
One of the guards opened the cell. The bars were translucent and had a cold aura to them when Blackmane drew close. He guessed the aura was why the guards all appeared to be wearing special gloves in these cells.
He stepped out and glanced back in the cell at his fellow pirates. He hated to admit it, but this drow was about to make everyone’s life a whole lot more difficult. He could tolerate the irate and angry captors, it was fun to watch them explode, and even more fun with the captors bound by rules about prisoners. But the methodical ones were scary.
He looked up to the guard with the deadeye stare and motioned to the bench.
Blackmane: “Keep it warm for me, yeah?”
Meridian: “Be as cocky as you like, Blackmane. Get it out of your system… while you can.”
Blackmane: “Does that mean I can take a leak too?”
Meridian: “There’ll be plenty of leaking for you to do. It might not be the fluids you want to leak, however…”
He looked around at the guards.
Meridian: “Is she always such a hardass, or am I special?”
The guards, again, were stony professionals. There wasn’t even a glimmer of entertainment from any of them.
Meridian: “Take your time, Blackmane. Make all the jokes you want.”
Blackmane: “Yeah? I do have a stand-up routine I could perform. It might be a bit racy for such a family-friendly venue, though.”
The guards didn’t react and Meridian just looked at him with an enigmatic expression. It wasn’t even stern. It was just blank.
Blackmane: “Tough crowd. Reminds me of when I invited my girlfriend to the family dinner. Shame it was my wife’s family dinner.”
Even the pirates in the cell were awkwardly silent, while watching Kulimm bleed out. If they laughed, they were as expendable as the grey.
Blackmane: “I guess so!”
A long, awkward moment passed.
Blackmane: “Well this is nice.”
Meridian: “Have you run out of material? Shall we proceed? Or do you need to continue embarrassing yourself?”
Blackmane: “I might be a pirate, but I do have feelings, you know?”
Meridian: “I see. We are not finished. I will continue to wait.”
Blackmane: “And how long do we wait?”
Meridian: “As long as you need to demonstrate your hubris to your friends.”
Blackmane: “That long!? You might need a seat!”
Meridian turned to one of the guards. The man marched off and, a second later, came back with a small stool. He put it down and Meridian sat.
Blackmane: “That… was pretty funny. Want to join my comedy act?”
Blackmane: “Do we get to have fag breaks?”
There was a stifled, awkward cough in the cell.
Blackmane: “I suppose it’s true what my wife said. Only takes me five minutes to demonstrate my hubris and I’m spent.”
Blackmane: “I guess that was my way of saying, I’m ready.”
Meridian: “Very good.”
She stood up.
Blackmane: “Ready to squeal uncle. Please be gentle with my buttocks. I’m a virgin back there.”
Meridian sat back down.
Blackmane: “Okay, okay. No more jokes.”
Meridian: “Please! Have your fun. I shall continue to wait.”
Blackmane: “You really take the fun out of all this, don’t you.”
She stared. Of course, that was the point. He could peacock all he wanted, but eventually he was the one that looked the fool.
He grit his teeth. He wanted to end with a sarcastic remark, such as ‘your majesty’, but he knew that would get him stood out here like a moron even longer. Oddly enough, he almost wanted torture over this.
Meridian stood. The guard took the stool away while the other guards led him down the cellblock until they came to the interrogation room. It was a blank room with nothing but a stool in it. The stool was floating off the ground, tethered by a gravitational lure so it couldn’t be picked up and thrown, but it was also pliable enough that no one could kill themselves on it.
He sat, as directed.
Meridian: “Do you know what is going to happen now?”
Blackmane: “You want me to give up my contact? I tell you now, you’d better be offering a very hefty reward for such information.”
She rolled her eyes.
Meridian: “No. You are going to sit in here for a few hours. After that, I parade you past the cellblock with your friends in it and ensure they see me release you.”
Blackmane smiled in admiration.
Blackmane: “Nice. They all think I gave you everything you wanted in return for my freedom. Then they have no fear in giving everything up, since they know I did it.”
Blackmane: “And you people call me despicable.”
Meridian: “You are despicable.”
Blackmane hid the grin he felt. At last, he got something out of her. A personal comment. It was small, but it was something. He would see how much he could yank this chain.
Blackmane: “The way I see it, there ain’t much difference between you and me.”
Meridian: “Then you’re a fool. You steal and murder your way through life, ruining other people’s lives.”
Blackmane: “Yes, I ruin lives. I ruin the lives of those who ruined other lives.”
Blackmane: “Bingo! Ding, ding, ding!”
Meridian: “Except even the poorest of High Imperial society are provided for, Blackmane.”
Blackmane: “Your empire went around conquering people every day. Claiming lives so that you could force your way of live upon those that were lucky enough to survive. Doesn’t matter how much food you give them, you stole plenty from them; starting with their freedom.”
Meridian: “As spoken by someone ungrateful for that food. If you had ever truly starved, Blackmane, you’d soon appreciate the hand that feeds.”
Blackmane: “A fair society shouldn’t need a hand to feed it.”
Meridian had a tight-lipped smile.
Meridian: “The thing is, you might be right. But I believe in that hand. Freedom is what? An ideology, just like any other. How many people in this galaxy worship some god or other? They almost always believe that they must obey that god, unwaveringly, or they will be punished. Well, I met a true god. We called him The Highemperor. No one would go hungry under his guidance and his protection. He didn’t conquer people, he saved them from themselves.”
Blackmane: “Saved you, did he? Your drow people, yes I have seen some of you before, aren’t part of the High Empire, so I know you weren’t conquered. You got a personal tale. That makes you eager to proselytise.”
Meridian: “Let me put it this way. You represent this freedom, right? And look what you do with it. Steal and hurt people. Within the High Empire, that doesn’t happen. We were protected from the likes of you. Freedoms are great to have, but every society has restrictions. Don’t kill, being the obvious example. We just had a leader to guide us in the right freedoms.”
Blackmane: “It’s like listening to a propaganda machine.”
Meridian: “And listening to you, is like listening to a barbarian. Besides, I think you’ll be fine by yourself in here. And don’t think I didn’t notice you unlocked your manacles.”
Blackmane grinned broadly and he dropped the cuffs from his wrists.
Blackmane: “She’s good! I know there’s nothing to be gained by removing them, but it was a small victory, right?”
Meridian: “I’ll have someone put them back on.”
Blackmane: “Is that necessary? Aren’t we friends now?”
Meridian: “Necessary or not, it’s the rules.”
She exited and commanded a guard to put new manacles on their current guest. She marched away from the cellblock. Most of the people on the station were humans, though there were plenty of other beings around too. However, she, as a drow, was one of the shortest, at four foot tall. She had to crane her neck to talk to everyone around her, especially Blackmane, who had been almost seven foot. She realised, now, that she had been swept up into conversation by Blackmane and grumbled that she had indulged him. She had been winning the psychological warfare before that.
As she went, she tapped into a floating crystal, several commands, topmost of which was to have the grey healed back to full health. It would be a good tactic to express deepest apologies for her behaviour when the grey came in for questioning and, thus, garner a mix of fear with appreciation for the healing. She was sure Kulimm would talk given the right amount of pressure. She might be proud of her pirate background, but she was jealous and greedy. With some promises, the woman would certainly give over her conspirators. The grey had not come from the bulk of the fleet, but from a ship that actually made it to The Vault. She had been caught, but goods were still missing; Meridian was certain betrayal was at work, and Kulimm would spill the information on those that escaped.
Meridian used a teleporter to transfer herself to her room on the dominarium. Although she had a room aboard The Scion of Divinity, where she was officially stationed, all the crew had their own apartments on the station itself.
When she appeared in the living room, the lights automatically came on. Any drow would find the décor of her apartment to be intriguing for its complexity and for its hodgepodge, mismatched styles from centuries past. There was no consistency of era, with some objects exhibiting features of a hundred years ago, while others were thousands of years old in style. Some objects were genuine antiques, but most were replications. Caledonia had many antiques as people were reborn and would recollect their former possessions. The value of objects was better estimated when it was known people were going to come back. In many cultures, the dead of a thousand years ago are just that; dead people from a thousand years ago. But to most living drow today, those people were family and friends.
Few of her kind existed. An anomaly.
Cloning was a new and unknown technology amongst the drow as it, and space faring, were relatively new concepts, having only developed faster than light travel in the last two decades. She was not the first cloned drow, though she was one of the first to be cloned with science. Clones, or mimics, or the past were always done with magic and the results were often messy. She, however, was a healthy, normal woman.
Except, she had no soul.
At least, everyone thought so. How could she have a soul if there had never been a soul before? Souls were quantifiable and were stored in the over-soul, ready to return to a new body whenever the return was made. No one knew how long a soul would remain in the over-soul, it varied wildly and most considered it random. Nobody even remembered being there, except for having a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling at the idea of it. Meridian didn’t have that feeling.
When a drow died, they saw it as going to sleep for a while. Some even saw it as a vacation. If she died, she didn’t know if her soul would go to the over-soul. Most of her kind believed she would just die and end, like all the other mortal species out there. And if that was true, was she even a drow?
She was considered an abomination by her people. Even those that tried to be nice to her, they often pitied her and thought of her as “it’s not her fault”.
She put her gun into the cupboard and sealed it safely shut. All of her guns were genuine antiques, and all kept in working condition. She rarely got to fire them, but when she did it was like the blast was an echo of the history she didn’t have. She attached herself to old things because she tried to imagine how life was for people back then. To her, it seemed a romantic and simple time. To every other drow, it was yesterday.
There were other drow that believed she would go to the over-soul, which made her happy in one way but that belief came with a souring comment; how much room is there in the over-soul? It wasn’t designed with extra souls in mind, so if more souls join that it can handle, will the whole system break down? It was a dangerous and terrifying proposition, and that made Meridian dangerous and terrifying.
She had been the very reason cloning was suddenly banned, officially, in drow society. She wasn’t created on Caledonia, or cloned by any drow, but she had found her way there and she was an instant, infamous, celebrity.
She looked at the weapons. Sometimes she thought about using them on herself, so that she could go and join everyone else in the warmth of the over-soul, finally. But, she could never bring herself to do that. To end her life. That fear of death made her ever more certain; she would not go to the over-soul. If she would, why was she so afraid of death?
The High Empire gave her a much greater purpose. Here, she could make the lives of others better. She could act as the great protector. She would keep everyone alive and healthy as long as they could and woe betide any who threaten the Remnant flock.
The crystal lit up with a message and she saw that Kulimm had been healed. She smiled. She had just enough time to watch the latest episode of Captain Zero, and drink a cup of hot milk before she would have to get Blackmane out of the interrogation room.
Pollos felt the noose tightening around his neck.
After the last blunder, it wouldn’t be easy to keep himself above water. Many of his corrupt underlings had been arrested thanks to the information gleaned from interrogating the pirates captured just days ago. Qemik wasn’t back from his meetings with the Derkesthai, but with Pollos’ own side dwindling, Qemik’s powerbase would be growing. Pollos didn’t want power, power was just the tool to get him what he really wanted; luxury. Everyone in the High Empire was given more than enough. Enough food, enough entertainment, free healthcare, free amenities, and then extra wealth for disposable use. But enough was never enough. He wanted more than enough and he believed he deserved it.
But, his new ace was about to arrive and he hoped it would be enough to re-establish his power centre and stave off Qemik’s advance.
He marched off to find Proconsul Kim.
No sooner had Pollos started off, than Kim came looking for him.
Pollos was taken aback for a moment. With all that was happening, he felt that perhaps even Kim had finally seen through him and turned against him. But that was asking too much of the cat-man.
Kim: “I… have finally found it!!!”
Pollos: “The ultra rare foil of Cylla at the Babbling Brook?”
Kim held the trump card aloft. Pollos grinned, though it was really to himself rather than Kim’s victory. This was why he was winning in the highest political game in the Remnants; he paid attention to Kim’s idiot desires. Qemik was far too sensible and, frankly, good at his job to really stoop to pandering to Kim. Qemik wouldn’t know a common Lady Kanna card from a omega foiled laser copy of Lily Laandsbrooke at Gloriana Hollow if they were laid before him. Pollos, on the other hand, paid attention to this nonsense and, thereby, had Kim in the palm of his hand. The Daughters of Highemperor cards were still a popular pastime in the Terminius Sector. The cards of missing daughters were now more valuable than ever. Tragic for the daughters, immeasurably fortunate for the owners of those cards. Even the common cards of Allolane, one of the lost daughters, was worth a great amount of money and, oddly, status. Even people who were not interested in the cards were snapping up these ‘fallen daughters’ cards.
Pollos: “Congratulations. Did you send a memo to your friend?”
Kim grinned, slyly.
Kim: “Damn right I did. I bet she cried.”
Kim’s friend was Gwynne, another anthropomorphic cat person with a love for the Daughters Cards. Kim’s rivalry with his friend over the cards was always a sure-fire way to stoke Kim’s interest in something.
Pollos: “I was hoping you’d meet someone with me, Kim? He has already been spoken to by your friend, Ambassador Gwynne, and she has vetted him to ensure he is who he says he is.”
Kim: “Oh? Sounds important!”
Pollos was quick.
Pollos: “Nothing too important. But important enough.”
Kim wouldn’t want to get himself into anything too serious and, in his mind, boring. That’s what Qemik and Pollos were for. But important enough for him, while not being boring, was how Pollos would play it.
Kim: “Then lead the way! I need to show off my new card to Billy anyway.”
Kim: “Yes! He’s the janitor down on the shuttle bay. I met him a few days ago. You know he has an omega rare foil of Kleo on the Clouds of Calypso?”
Pollos: “A janitor?”
Kim: “I know, right!?”
Pollos made a mental note to add this person to the list of important-persons to keep watched and controlled. Control the janitor, control Kim. Gwynne was harder to control because she not only had an important position, but she didn’t live on the dominarium. Most of the others who spoke to Kim, on the other hand, were on the station and, therefore, within Pollos’ sphere of influence.
Pollos: “In here. Our new friend awaits.”
The doors opened and, sat upon a floating sofa, was a tall man with a strapping physique, chiselled jaw and long, thick, curling locks.
Kim: “HOLY CRAP ON A STICK!! BOSS, YOU’RE BACK!!!!”
Kim bounced across the room with frenzied eyes. The man looked from Kim, then to Pollos. Pollos cleared his throat.
Pollos: “I’m sorry, Kim, but not quite. This is not Highemperor.”
Kim looked dejected for a moment, then puzzled.
Kim: “Don’t tell me you’re an alternate reality? You know, I met my doppelgänger once and he was really annoying.”
Pollos held back the word ‘irony’ and he motioned for the Highemperor-lookalike to stand up.
Pollos: “Want to introduce yourself?”
The man swelled his chest, planted his fists on his hips;
Citizen Rex: “I am Citizen Rex! Hero of the planet!”
He paused briefly.
Citizen Rex: “Except, I’m not on the planet anymore. So, I’m hero of the… stars!!”
Kim: “Oooh! Hero of the stars! That’s a pretty cool line!”
Citizen Rex: “You think so? Just took me, like, a second to come up with that! I’m sure I can come up with more!”
Kim: “You do look like the boss. Is that why you’re here?”
Citizen Rex: “Seems so. I’m to be a new commander of some kind. They promised I get badges.”
Kim: “Badges are pretty cool. You know, we should make more badges!”
Pollos tried not to giggle with glee that this was working out so well already.
Pollos: “Badges can be arranged. You’ll need to think of reasons for awarding them. Like, battles won. Something like that.”
Kim: “Yes! Or… most naps taken!”
Citizen Rex: “Ho ho! I think I can earn that badge pretty quickly!”
Kim: “What about, a badge for punching ten grizzly bears!”
Citizen Rex: “Easy! I can go do that right now!”
Citizen Rex: “Yes! I already did that! I had a lot of downtime recently…”
He looked a little sad for a moment.
Kim: “Then we have to make that medal right away!”
He perked up instantly.
Citizen Rex: “This is amazing! I love it here!”
Kim: “One important question though.”
Citizen Rex: “What is it?”
Kim: “Do you have any rare Daughters of Highemperor cards!?”
Citizen Rex: “What are those?”
Kim now appeared sad, but similarly, it didn’t last long.
Kim: “Want me to show you my… collection?”
Citizen Rex: “That sounds cool!”
Kim: “COOL! COME WITH ME!”
Citizen Rex: “Do we have any ice cream here? I really love ice cream.”
Kim: “Damn right we do! All you can eat!”
Citizen Rex paused. Then posed.
Citizen Rex: “This… is the GREATEST PLACE IN THE GALAXY!”
Kim: “That… was super cool!”
Citizen Rex: “I know, right!?”
Kim: “Let’s go, BFF!”
The two grown men skipped out of the room and Pollos swelled with pride at his own machinations.
Pollos: “Long live the king, baby.”
"I was finally inspired to contribute to the Remnants of an Empire material based on the content of Leg Post 104. My main thought was to bring Citizen Rex into the Remnants Empire, since he was exclded from the roster of Hero Force Ultimate, and I thought he would be funny alongside Kim. However, I also wanted to retcon Al Ciao the Writer's use of a 'new drow'. I had always intended that every drow cycled through the over-soul, partially inspired by real world religions and concepts of reincarnation. When Al Ciao the Writer created a 'new drow', therefore a 'new soul', it ran counter to my set-up. I might have just included it as was, however the further idea of cloning came to me and struck me as more interesting anyway within this context of limited souls. So, I greatly expanded on his new, minor character, Meridian, both making her a clone, giving her a great deal of psychological baggage with her people, but also looked at drow culture through artefacts; how different it would be if people would come to claim such things hundreds of years after they are discovered. I also wanted to use Blackmane, as I thought it would be fun to write a rogue pirate. I added Kulimm and gave her personality depth, based on the presentation of her character in her short role in Leg Post 104." ~ Britt the Writer