Tales Post 3 begins the Shades of an Empire mini-arc and opens with Indigo Shade following her position in CatH Post 63. She had boarded Kalor Varkesh and, after being distracted by Clear the salmitton, she is struck by a High Imperial energy cannon. She manages to survive the shot but must retreat from the battle, her plans foiled by her sister Kimleigh. She vows to strike a new plan to undermine the High Empire and her father. Sometime into the future High Imperial personnel have struck an alliance with The Imperium after Indigo Shade has appeared within Imperium space. High Legatifex Astrid, the new commander of Kalor Varkesh after the death of Kimleigh, meets with Ameryl, Arm of The Imperium, along with her sister Kleo the Summermaid. Their brief conference sees Astrid attempting to woo Ameryl, who toys with the prospect but, knowingly, rejects the other woman's advances. Permission has been granted for three High Imperial ships to travel through Imperium space along with an Imperium escort.
Shades of an Empire
This post continues from CatH Post 63.
Indigo Shade feels the energy beam strike her person.
Had she been anyone else the blast would have vaporised her in an instant. The canon itself is more than capable of blowing a hole straight through the spaceship itself, a little organic being wouldn't stand a chance.
But she is Indigo Shade and she is no mere mortal.
The energy ripples across her skin, battling against her cells for possession but her body resists and pushes back the atomising force. It takes its toll on her, but she's alive.
She takes a gasp and vanishes from within the High Imperial ship, known as Kalor Varkesh, and for a brief moment in time she ceases to exist. Then she winks back into existence with a tiny, tinny sound of displaced reality. She gasps the air from within her projected atmospheric bubble and allows her body to fall limp as she slowly floats through the void of space.
Above her Kalor Varkesh, the hollowed out Netherwyrm of the Deep Void, lunges at another of the ships that Indigo Shade had collected into a miniature fleet. She doesn't know how the High Empire finally found her, out here in the depths, but she's angry that they've spoilt her little scheme. Gathering together derelicts is a far safer way to go unnoticed than commissioning brand new, powerful vessels. The plan was a good one but now it's fallen apart. She'll need a new plan. Another scheme to undermine the High Empire and her tyrannical father's rule of it. She takes a last, long look at Kalor Varkesh. She knows they'll meet again. She vanishes.
Most Imperium personnel would transfer between ships via the portals, of which there are three here, at the end is a transporter pad for those coming aboard without a connected portal on their end. She's wearing her usual long dress of pale pink and jet black and has her equally pink hair free flowing over her bare shoulders. She has a small black bow in the back of her hair to reflect the dress she's wearing. She steadies herself, trying to ensure she appears as reserved as possible for her guests.
She glances back at the transporter chief and gives him a nod. A moment later and the transporter is activated. Two women and three men materialise on the transporter pad. The three men are all wearing standard High Imperial uniforms, while the two women are wearing what is evidently their own choice in clothing. The taller and more striking of the two is wearing... very little.
Strips of blood red latex wrap around the woman's more private zones while leaving the majority of her lightly tanned skin exposed. Ameryl has seen plenty of prostitutes dressed this way but never a ship's captain. The colour ensemble is red, even down to the leather boots. She stands have a hand on her hip and another holds a peculiar lantern at her side. Its contained in a metal frame but has an eerie blue wisp within its glass panels. She whips her long, blonde hair back, which reaches down to her knees, and steps down from the transporter pad.
Astrid: "Greetings Emperor Ameryl. Thank you for accepting us."
Ameryl: "I'm no emperor, High Legatifex."
Astrid: "Then what should I call you? Arm Ameryl?"
They share a smile smile between them.
Ameryl: "I don't need a title. Just call me Ameryl."
Astrid looks Ameryl up and down for a moment. She stands much taller than Ameryl, who is under five foot while Astrid is six. With an extra few inches for her high heels.
Astrid: "Do you think such informality is going to make me uncomfortable, Ameryl?"
Ameryl gives a smug smirk.
Astrid: "Look at me, Ameryl. Do I strike you as the formal, military general type?"
She slowly removes a lock of hair from her chest to give a clearer view. Ameryl stares.
Ameryl: "I suppose not."
She says, but she's still looking down.
Astrid: "Well then. Ameryl is fine by me."
Ameryl's eyes slide away from the open-aired cleavage and eyes the other girl behind Astrid. She's in constant, animated chatter with one of the guardsmen. Astrid turns and snaps her fingers for attention. The girl looks up, her white afro bobs and wobbles with every movement of her head. As she looks at Ameryl with golden eyes, minus the common pupils of many beings of the Multiverse, Ameryl recognises this woman is of her own species - a Hypericumite.
She scurries over and hurriedly throws out her hand. She doesn't wait for Ameryl to reach out in return, the girl just grabs her hand and starts shaking it up and down somewhat violently.
Kleo the Summermaid: "Hi there, your Highness! I'm Kleo! It's really, really great to meet you in person!"
Ameryl feels her own body rattle from the over enthusiastic handshake and manages to disconnect her hand before she develops motion sickness.
Ameryl: "I-I'm not your Highness, Kleo."
Kleo: "You'll always be my queen. Your sister is no queen after she--"
Kleo's mouth snaps shut. No Hypericumite talks about that in casual conversation. The Great Betrayal of their queen when she obliterated the entire kingdom and all of its people, her people, were slaughtered. Though most do not know the reason for their queen's action, both Kleo and Ameryl are privy to the knowledge that this was done in an attack upon the Powerplayers of the High Empire. And it hadn't worked. Hypericumites murdered for nothing. Those that survived denounced Imeryn as a 'false queen' and many, like Kleo, had created a romanticised visage of their 'true queen', the Ameryl the Gentle.
Ameryl doesn't like to break their dreams and so she holds her silence on the matter. She's surprised to see Highemperor had had another Hypericumite daughter though. Kleo's cheeks are bright pink most of the time and her skin is almost as white as her hair.
Astrid: "Perhaps you can ***** about Imeryn later, right now I want to get straight to business."
Ameryl gestures to the open doorway. Many Imperium ships have no doors. Instead each doorway has a thin, invisible barrier that people unknowingly pass through. The barriers have been set to allow their guests through, so the group are led out of the portal room and into a very wide corridor. It looks like an ancient, stone hall and could fit a tank down it.
Astrid: "I suppose this is a momentous occasion, The Imperium and the High Empire in an alliance?"
Ameryl: "I don't see there's much choice since your problem has found its way into our lap. I would have preferred to keep our distance from you."
Astrid: "So cold, dear Ameryl. My heart is broken."
Ameryl: "I doubt that very much."
Astrid's voice is deep, coy and sultry while Ameryl, despite the coldness of her words, is a soft, high-pitched voice that stands in stark contrast with the taller woman's. She looks up to see Astrid's mock-hurt face. Her red lips are pouting.
Astrid: "You're so mean, Ameryl. After you killed my sister, the least you could do is be nice to me..."
The tension in the group flares. Ameryl can sense Kleo's wide-eyed shock and Astrid's smug satisfaction. Ameryl had learnt, after the fact, that she had accidentally killed Kimleigh, daughter of Highemperor, during an experimental attack upon the planet Indra. Though it was an accident, Ameryl couldn't say she was especially remorseful. She actually saw some merit in it. The death of a daughter of the Highemperor serves as a great test of the God-Killer's capabilities. And she hopes that Highemperor was deeply wounded by it. He may even have cried. Satisfaction.
Everything that Imeryn became, and thus everything she did, was his fault. A bit of personal vengeance goes a long way. She has cut herself from her past and yet it always follows her around, like a dark shadow. The shadow of the Highemperor.
Ameryl: "Do you really think trying to guilt me will force me to open up to you?"
Though Ameryl doesn't feel guilt over the death of Kimleigh, the wide-eyed look of Kleo does. Not living up to the dream someone has of you is a dark moment to go through. She isn't Ameryl the Gentle, she's Ameryl the Destroyer of Gods.
They enter a wide room with a low ceiling. The walls are also stone, smoothed flat and in every wall are intricate carvings of important beings of The Imperium. The room is dimly lit by drooping lights that hang from the ceiling and at the centre of the room is a long, black, ovular table. A red table spread runs down the centre of it and around the table are a series of black chairs with velvet cushions.
The guardsmen remain standing. Two at the door and one near the two women.Though Ameryl assured Astrid that they'd be unnecessary, they came anyway. The Imperium, on the other hand, has no guards in the room, leaving Ameryl alone with the five High Imperial personnel.
She sits down delicately. Astrid slinks into the chair beside her and Kleo the Summermaid plops down beside her sister. Wine materialises itself onto the table.
Ameryl: "Is wine sufficient for you both?"
Astrid: "Trying to get me drunk, Ameryl?"
Ameryl: "No. I'm trying to get myself drunk."
They share a lukewarm chuckle between them while Kleo sniffs dubiously at the glass of wine.
Kleo: "I would prefer cranberry juice."
Astrid rolls her eyes.
Astrid: "Does The Imperium have anything so boring as cranberry juice?"
Ameryl: "I not only have cranberry juice but I have traditional Hypericum cranberry juice."
The wine glass vanishes and is replaced by a slender glass of cranberry juice, formulated to the tradition recipe that Ameryl had entered into the replicator systems long ago. The replication technology itself was purchased from the drow of the NeSiverse and had spread quickly throughout several Imperium installations due to its usefulness. As with most technology bought or acquired, it was improved upon so that food and drink could be replicated to any location instead of just the repolicator bank, like the original design.
Kleo is more than satisfied with her drink as she happily gulps it down through a big, blue straw. She fiddles with the little umbrella.
Astrid: "Business then."
Ameryl: "You are given permission to travel through Imperium space. I have the three ships registered and you'll be able to go almost anywhere you like. Of course you'll be accompanied by my own ships."
Astrid: "Afraid we'll start a riot in your territory, Ameryl?"
Ameryl: "Not really. I'm worried you won't be able to defeat this Indigo Shade and I'll be left with a very big mess on my hands..."
Astrid: "Oh ye of little faith, Ameryl! Have a heart!"
Ameryl: "I do! That's why we'll be protecting you."
Ameryl smirks at Astrid.
Astrid: "Do you honestly think our ships are so fragile?"
Ameryl: "No. You know I don't."
She sighs and tries to explain;
Ameryl: "If, for some reason, something does happen to you, what kind of poltical mess will that leave? You come in here, die and what will the High Empire think? What will your father do? I don't want him running in here and start blowing things up thinking I killed you. So my people will be there to ensure your safety at all costs..."
Astrid is pleasantly surprised. Her blue eyes widen with the joy of attention.
Astrid: "My my, Imperium soldiers willing to sacrifice their own lives just for mine? I do like this turn of events. I may even get myself into trouble just to see what happens..."
Ameryl: "Just because I'll be keeping you alive, don't go thinking I won't punish you if you get my personnel killed..."
Astrid: "Oooh! I do love being punished when I'm naughty. Ameryl of The Imperium spanking an officer of the High Empire. What would people say?"
Kleo splutters cranberry juice everywhere.
Astrid: "Oh come now, Kleo. Don't pretend to be the little prude. Everybody knows about you and that little boy of yours."
Kleo's pink cheeks flush red.
Kleo: "He's not-- I mean-- what boy!?"
Ameryl laughs lightly. Astrid does have a wayward charm. She thinks it's a shame she's a daughter of her worst nightmare. And greatest dream.
Astrid: "I shall lead from Kalor Varkesh. The other ships are standard High Imperial ships. I assume you probably already have complete specs on all of our standard vessels, am I right?"
Ameryl sips her wine but her eyes flick up to look at the accusing eyes of Astrid. Ameryl slowly lowers the wine glass from her pink-coloured lips. The skin there glistens gently in the low light. She knows Astrid is taken with her, it's written all over her face. Even if Astrid goes around wearing nothing and lures everyone in with her physical beauty and silver tongue, Ameryl long ago learnt to read even the most deceptive of people. Astrid knows the answer to this question, she just enjoys verbally fencing with Ameryl. It's foreplay to her.
And Ameryl will enjoy refusing her.
And Astrid will become all the more infatuated for it.
Ameryl already knows she's won the game, even if Astrid hasn't seen that yet.
Ameryl: "Doesn't everybody have the specifications to High Imperial ships by now? It doesn't matter if anyone has those specs, little good it would do them without understanding those specs."
Astrid: "And you don't?"
She leans her chin on her hand, her little finger poised between her full, rounded lips. Her long lashes bat slowly. Ameryl reaches out and strokes the stem of her glass.
Ameryl: "What do you think?"
Kleo: "I think it doesn't matter!"
Kleo breaks the moment but the two women continue to look into each other's eyes.
Kleo: "We're friends now! So we should just be open with each other! We've nothing to hide, right!?"
Astrid: "You're right Kleo. I'd be happy to show you everything, Ameryl..."
She hasn't moved and speaks with a purr.
This is it.
Ameryl: "Honestly, Astrid, I don't think you have anything I would be interested in..."
Fortunately Astrid isn't the spiteful type and is a good sport. She makes a mock clutch at her heart.
Astrid: "Wow. Wow... I feel my heart breaking..."
Kleo suddenly looks to Astrid with a glare.
Kleo: "Wait, have you two been flirting all this time!? Astrid!"
Ameryl laughs and rises from her seat. She sweeps around the table, her black and pink dress flowing after her.
Ameryl: "It was a pleasure to meet you both. Kleo, it was especially pleasant to meet another of my kind. I hope we can sit together and talk of home some day soon."
Kleo stumbles to her feet with some awe at being so addressed.
Kleo: "Th-thank you, your Highness! I'd like nothing more!"
Astrid slides back into her chair provocatively.
Astrid: "But you don't want to see me again, Ameryl?"
Ameryl: "I expect I'll see plenty of you, High Legatifex. When accompanied by your fine guardsmen."
She pats one of the guards on the shoulder of his armour.
Astrid shakes her head in defeat but wears a bemused smile.