She leaned back and listened.

::Static from a comms transmission::

“My lady, I have information for you of an incredibly pressing nature. I sent an agent to confirm suspicions but I didn’t think anything was amiss until my agent was kill–“


[Naomi to crew] How did they detect us? We need to… NO! NOO!


[Naomi to computer] Re-route all auxiliary power to the transmission!

[Crewmember] They’re boarding us! 

[Naomi again] Just a few more… 

[Gunshots, Footsteps, a Man’s Voice indistinctly, Naomi screaming]


Naomi smiled at the fabrication. It certainly seemed convincing enough, and it had better be. She nursed the redness on her cheek by rubbing it gently, her hazel eyes glancing over the subordinate who struck her.

“Well done,” She nodded, “Send it to Lady Lianne.”

“And if it reaches your brother?” A technician asked.

She sighed, “Then Reginald will check for authenticity by visiting the transmission location.”

“But then he’ll know it’s false!”

She glanced back over to the men and women arrayed before her, loyalists she had gathered into a cabal to seize the Holder title from her brother. Her brother had always been proud of predicting moves and reading personalities–it was a false sense she cultivated in him from afar. In reality, he was little more than a fool. Perhaps one with brilliant insights and sparks of genius, but nonetheless still a fool. Unfortunately, his stupidity ran through the ranks of the Sakakibara family and their guardians.

She had chosen them not for their capacity to understand but for their dedication to her claim. It was a weak claim as long as Reginald was alive and well–his mother’s dowry had ensured the title would go to him, a title he had aimed to keep for eternity by becoming a capsuleer. Indeed, Reginald’s claim was based on law. But Naomi’s claim had been built on love.

Their father, Ishariel, had adored her to the utmost. And while the holdings and title in name went to Reginald, Ishariel had made it clear that Naomi was to be provided for with his final, sacred, and dying breaths. Nominally, Reginald was the head of the family. In reality, Naomi held sway over Sakakibara property and resources.

Her brother had moved swiftly against her power by establishing a listening tower in Saikamon, harnessing a “box” that intercepted transmissions from across the cluster. With it, he kept the untitled nobility of the family in check, preempting their stratagems and machinations–always at least one move ahead. For Naomi, that meant playing the role of caretaker for the Sakakibara properties and estates, a role she loathed.

But cracks existed in her brother’s sphere of influence. Her spies had managed to infiltrate his vaunted “Project DENT” information network, pinpointed the location of the tower, and made it vulnerable. It wasn’t difficult to find former slaves who wanted to do harm unto him, and so she unleashed Vuld and Crofton upon him.

Reginald, of course, had protocols in place to deal with such contingencies. He was by no means a moron. But while the physical threat was removed, the true victory lay in his paranoia. Naomi knew that to protect the box, he would seal himself away from it. And he had. For over a month he hadn’t been able to listen, to spy, to react. DENT operatives–the ones he used to keep the family in line–had no information support. They were alone and their vision was limited to what they saw with their own eyes. In one fell swoop she had made her brother blind and deaf, slowly picking off wayward agents one by one.

This next attack was a test to see if he had rebuilt his listening post.

“My lady,” A technician said, “Zealot-class vessel in-bound.”

Naomi provided a rare genuine smile. So he hadn’t rebuilt at all. If he had, his listening post in Saikamon would have been able to tell it was a fake within moments and instead of a ship, there would be a fleet to apprehend her for threatening him.

Maybe he had become arrogant? Complacent? Lazy? She doubted any of those were the truth. As she watched the Zealot make a quick survey of the area from the bridge of her cloaked Buzzard-class TES Silence, she wondered if her brother had changed. He was seeing that commoner after all. Was it love that was dulling him?

Speculation belonged in universities specializing in philosophy. She had ascertained her brother’s capabilities quite nicely. She brushed away a strand of hair and gave the order to leave the system. More worrisome was the trust Lady Lianne had in her older brother–she had hoped revealing a “Slave Breeding Facility” would have shaken that faith a little more. It was an underestimation but not a pressing one.

She was about to play the role of hostess on Myyhera IV. She tapped onto a console to bring up a long file on a particular pilot. As the Silence cut across space covertly and without delay, she reviewed the information. Every line made her grin. So, this was the woman her brother was infatuated with? How intriguing. She looked forward to meeting her, this woman with a meaningless name.

Katerina Tzestu.


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