Report (de’Crux, Alexa)

Official Report (de’Crux, Alexa)
From: Alexa de’Crux
Sent: 2014.12.24 15:04
To: Lunarisse Aspenstar,

Ms. Aspenstar:

Filed on this day of 12/24/115, the following is a recounting of my recent actions. Under the eyes of God Himself, and on penalty of court-martial under the Amarrian Code of Military Jurisprudence, this officer swears that the following report is true and accurate to the best of her recollection.

Approximately one week ago, I was invited by MIss Naomi Sakakibara to her residence, where she was acting as steward in the absense of her brother. She had previously informed me that there were potential hostile elements among the staff, and requested my assistance and advice.

After advising on several security issues, Miss Sakakibara departed for a business meeting in Saikomon; shortly after she left, I was contacted by an unknown individual, calling himself ‘L’, who informed me that Miss Sakakibara had been poisoned with methyl alcohol, on his orders, and that she would be targeted again if she did not cease her attempts to gain favor and status in her family’s social/political structure.

When I returned to Miss Sakakibara’s residence, ‘L’ contacted me again. We traced the location of the call, which lead us to the assailant’s safehouse; after we had successfully flushed the poison from Miss Sakakibara’s system, we discovered that the family of a staff nurse had been abducted in an effort to coerce her cooperation.

The nurse attempted to taint Miss Sakakibara’s intravenous drip. I narrowly averted her actions, and as a consequince, ‘L’ ordered the execution of one of the hostages. I then ordered a tactical assault on the safehouse; during said assault, the remaining hostages were killed, one of two hostiles were killed, and the other taken into custody.

Shortly thereafter, Miss Sakakibara received a message that her brother’s ships had attacked her business holdings in another system. I attempted to contact Lord Sakakibara, and informed him of ‘L”s actions, but he appeared unconvinced that the threat was genuine.

I interrogated the prisoner, and he disclosed that the chief medical officer was somehow involved. Upon further inquiry, I learned that he had visited Saikomon several times in the previous two months, and purchased supplies for the treatment of methyl alcohol poisoning.

The prisoner was then killed by the doctor; he claims to have administered a sedative, but analysis of the syringe revealed that it was, in fact, a form of synthetic adrenaline. Upon taking the doctor into custody, he implicated Lord Sakakibara’s Aunt Ashessa, via her agency known as DENT, as the primary instigator of the previously recounted events.

I contacted Lord Sakakibara, informing him of the accusations; again, he seemed indifferent, and questioned my presence. I informed him that Ms. Sakakibara had personally requested my presence, and he seemed quite surprised that she would do so.

Miss Sakakibara invited Ashessa to her residence; I remained in concealment, recording the ensuring conversation. Following an unremarkable dinner, Miss Sakakibara attempted to end the ongoing hostilities; while Ashessa did not admit to DENT’s involvement, she stated her intent to make Ms. Sakakibara’s life ‘hell’ for as long as she could.

Ashessa then physically assaulted Ms. Sakakibara (slapped her), which signalled armed agents to enter the room and hold Ms. Sakakibara at gunpoint. I responded, at that point, disabled both hostile agents, and positioned myself between Ashessa and Ms. Sakakibara.

Ashessa then drew a weapon and said, quote, ‘I should have done this a long time ago’. She then proceeded to fire two rounds in the direction of myself and Ms. Sakakibara; I was wounded in the upper thigh, while Ms. Sakakibara recieved a wound to her abdomen that required minor surgery. I then retrieved a weapon from one of the fallen hostiles and fired twice, hitting Ashessa twice in the chest and killing her.

After recovering in the infirmary, Lord Sakakibara contacted me directly; he ordered my unit to withdraw in favor of his personal security force. I presented him with the conversation recorded between Ms. Sakakibara and her Aunt, whereupon he called its authenticity into question ( ‘did you not think that Naomi might have goaded her into making that confession’, or words to that effect).

Lord Sakakibara again refused to accept the evidence presented; our communication ended when he restated his order that my unit withdraw from his property and disconnected.

The officers of my unit acted in a manner befitting the ranks and positions; the sole responsibility for the actions related herein is my own, and I accept any and all punishment enacted in response to said events.

SIGNED in my own hand, and of my own free will, on this date of 12/24/115,

Alexa de’Crux.

Coup d’état IV

Ashessa was seething as they stepped into the parlor, away from the watchful eyes of the staff and Naomi’s blasted kameira. Fortunately, Ashessa was old enough to be comfortable in most of the rooms of the manor of the main family, the parlors themselves places of intrigue from conspiracies past. But she was seething. She wouldn’t allow Naomi to just sully the names of her son and his wife.

As soon as the doors were closed, she glared at Naomi, “Now, what is the real reason you’ve summoned me, Steward?”

“Auntie… this fighting between us needs to stop.”

Ashessa scoffed, anger beginning to boil at Naomi’s disposition and countenance, “Don’t you dare call me ‘Auntie.’ I tolerated it when that commoner was here, but I will not tolerate it in private.”

She took a seat on one of the cushioned chairs, the fur coat still upon her, concealing the layers of dark, mourning colors. It had not even been two months since Orion’s death–a death that Naomi had essentially admitted to perpetrating. The whore’s spawn was growing ever more confident, consolidating power at the expense of the family, all without Reginald or Katerina’s knowledge.

“Madam Ashessa,” Naomi said, her voice dripping with the sarcasm with which only the nobility were familiar, “I want the fighting to end.”

You mean you want us to stop defending ourselves. 

“Then hand my granddaughter back over to me!” Ashessa almost bellowed, her temper beginning to break under the constant strain of Naomi’s taunts, a temper weakened by mourning and grief.

“Orion made Rebecca my charge once his wife passed…” Naomi said quietly, the thinnest smile on her lips.

“You mean when you poisoned her?” Ashessa raised her voice.

“I didn’t poison her,” Naomi shook her head softly, her bangs swaying like wisps against her forehead.

“Oh I’m sure,” Ashessa threw her hands up in disbelief, “I should certainly believe what a whore’s spawn says at any rate.”

Naomi grit her teeth, “I wish you wouldn’t call me that, Madam Ashessa.”

“Ha! I’ve been in this family longer than your whore mother lived her entire life,” Ashessa countered, her voice filled with daggers.

Naomi took a breath, “Auntie, this fighting needs to end.”

That was a joke. Naomi was the one on the offensive, the family merely protecting themselves from her far-reaching kameiras and cabal. Ashessa merely shook her head, “As I understand, you are the aggressor.”

“Your DENT operatives…” Naomi began.

Ashessa cut her off, “My DENT operatives? You’re clearly insane! When in your whore’s spawn brain did you manage to cook that one up?”

DENT was entirely the purview of her great-nephew Reginald. No one in the family would claim ownership of them, a secret police force as terrifying as it was silently efficient.

“So you deny it?” Naomi asked.

“Deny what?” Ashessa replied, beginning to feel the edges of a noose begin to close around the parlor.

“Order the attempt on my life.”

Ashessa paused, and in that moment, felt she heard a voice somewhere in the parlor. It was ephemeral, lasting scarcely the length of a moment before disappearing again. Most of the loyalists in the family knew that DENT would never be so overt with their action–they would never target Naomi directly, never outright.

Ashessa responded with a dry life, saying sarcastically, “Oh yes, and I’ve also ordered an assassin into your bedchamber armed with a retractable toe.”

The voice again. She turned, “What was that?”

“Auntie,” Naomi interjected before Ashessa could investigate further, “No more people need to be hurt.”

“Call me that, again,” Ashessa seethed, “I dare.”

She may have been old, but her influence in the family was still strong. If Naomi wanted a war, she would have one–the Holding set alight in a matter of hours. Already she began plotting, the colonels of the local reserves, police commissioners, and even the laity that remembered her great-grandfather’s rule. They would all rise up against Naomi and her kameiras.

Ashessa cleared her throat, sure of herself after Naomi fell silent, “My granddaughter,” She demanded, “And you stop trying to become Holder. you’re leaving a mountain of corpses in your wake.”

Naomi burst out in anger, startling Ashessa, “I only have her because she protects me! And you would have killed her anyway if I hadn’t been rescued by Alexa!”

Ashessa matched the name to a description, “Alexa? Oh. That Brutor girl you’ve been sleeping with.”

“S-she’s more than that!” Naomi wailed back.

“I’m not surprised you know, what with that whore’s blood pumping through your filthy veins.”

“No, I love her. More than anything I’ve ever loved in my entire life. I won’t let you talk about her… about us like that!”

Ashessa nearly spat in disgust, “You don’t know what love is.”

“Stop this fighting, Auntie,” Naomi said, her voice returning to the soft pleading tone of before.

“The day you give me Rebecca, I’ll treat you with the deference you so crave. But until then, I vow to make your life so utterly miserable you’ll wish you were whoring yourself in the undercity of Dam-Torsad!”

Naomi took a deep breath, “So you won’t stop this fighting?”

“Get out of my way,” Ashessa yelled, slapping Naomi across her voice with all her strength, giving into every desire for catharsis–for her son, for his wife, for their daughter.

Suddenly, loud voices emanated from the outside of the parlor, “That’s the signal!”

At first, Ashessa thought that it was her life they were after, but then she saw their weapons were trained on Naomi. Loyalists? They must have been, for almost instantaneously a 6′ 4″ kameira burst out of an alcove, throwing a knife at one of the gunmen. Ashessa recognized her immediately as Alexa de’Crux. So someone had been waiting, most likely to assassinate her. She allowed herself to smirk as she watched Naomi’s plan start to become undone.

One of the men pointed their pistol at Alexa while the other aimed his squarely at Naomi’s head.

“No, not her! Leave her be!” Naomi exclaimed, on the verge of execution.

One of the gunmen fired a round at Alexa, though it seemed to miss as the kameira ducked and rolled. She grabbed a paperweight off of one of the writing-desks and flung it with a sniper’s precision at the head of her attacker. He fell back, discharging his weapon uselessly into the air.

Ashessa could barely keep up–kameira were legendary for their battlefield prowess, but she hadn’t expected a performance like that. She found herself snarling, “What in Divinty’s Edge are you?”

Alexa, not missing a beat and ignoring Ashessa simply yelled at Naomi to duck, then crashed into the man holding Naomi at gunpoint. In that second, Naomi picked up the fallen man’s pistol and planted a round squarely into him before he could recover from the paperweight. She stoop up shakily, waiting for Alexa to be clear before firing at the second assailant. She dropped the weapons to the ground, her face betraying how alien they felt to her.

Useless buffoons. Ashessa reached for the pistol, then trained it directly onto Naomi. Alexa placed her form between the matriarch and the steward, a look of caution veiling a sense of protective fury.

“I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but I will have no part of it. The sanctity of this family will be preserved,” She checked the pistol expertly, her old life of intrigue serving her well, “I should’ve done this a long time ago.”

“You don’t want to do this,” Alexa started to say before scooping up her knife with one foot, tossing it into her hand, and flinging to underhand at Ashessa.

Ashessa barely managed to dodge the knife, kneeling to steady her aim before firing two rounds in practiced succession at Naomi and Alexa. Naomi screamed as the round hit her, clutching to her side as blood spilled between her fingers. To Ashessa’s horror, Alexa was unfazed–the kameira pushed Naomi out of harm’s way then grabbed the other discarded weapon, firing two rounds into the old woman.

Impressive. Center-mass. That was all Ashessa could think as her body began to crumple to the floor. In death, she began to understand. It had been staged like a play. Those had been Naomi’s men.

Damn it all.

Coup d’état III

Ashessa emerged from her mobile sanctuary–a sleek gray vehicle, its doors adorned with the crest of her branch of the Sakakibara Family. Its leather interior was warm in comparison to the increasingly bitter temperature of Myyhera IV’s winter. Her driver, a Brutor named Skartufer stood to the side of the door, bowing his head in that same subdued manner for a seventh-generation slave. Barely noticing him and wearing a large fur coat, Ashessa began to make her way up the steps of her grand-nephew’s manor, flanked by attendants and personal guards.

The house looked like it was under occupation, kameiras standing guard at the door, their weapons holstered but nonetheless menacing. They were a grim reminder that the Holding that had been in the Sakakibara family for nearly a millennium was no longer under its direct control.

Prior to her arrival, she had receives dozens of pleas for help from other members of the family–the omnipresent but nonetheless hidden DENT forces were slowly being replaced by the equally omnipresent but incredibly overt kameiras bolstered by Naomi’s personal cabal. Ashessa had been surprised to see so many–servants, maids, cooks, footmen, groundskeepers, some even within her own estate–begin declaring their support for the bastard child of Ishariel Sakakibara.

Two kameira approached her retinue, scanning them with digital equipment Ashessa normally associated with spaceports. It was an outrage. Reginald would never have subjected her to such humiliation.

“Madam Ashessa, be so kind as to take off your coat,” A household servant working with the two kameira asked.

She returned the request with a hard gaze, “You would strip an old woman in this cold?”

“It’s for security purposes.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the kameira begin to confiscate weapons from her guards while the majority of her entourage was denied entry to the manor, encouraged to return to the vehicles back in the motorcade.

So she wants me naked, then? 

She wouldn’t back down, exclaiming, “This is utterly ridiculous!”

One of the kameira joined them to see what the commotion was about. She had thought there was at least some respect came from not being manhandled by one of the Empire’s super-soldiers, but clearly she would not be afforded the immunity for much longer.

“Is there a problem here?” The kameira asked, either ignorant or simply irreverent towards Ashessa’s position as the matriarch of a branch family.

The servant shook his head, “Not a problem. She’s cleared to go in.”

Ashessa fought back a smile. So, there were still some loyalty after all.

It was evident from the moment she entered that the whore’s spawn was incapable of hosting even the most meager of dinner events. Instead of being brought to a parlor for conversation, she was hurried into the dining room itself. Though it was lined with an army of waiters and servants dressed in their very best, the dining room felt clumsily and hastily prepared. Even worse, Naomi was already seated at the table. She didn’t even bother to stand up to greet Ashessa.

“Please auntie, sit,” Naomi indicated, having already begun the main course, the poultry on her plate carved.

“Such a warm welcome,” Ashessa mumbled back politely–no one had even bothered to take her coat, the heavy fur coat billowing against the chair.

She must have looked like an old clown, struggling to sit with no assistance. So that was Naomi’s game. Humiliation.

“We certainly do our best. I hope you don’t mind pheasant?” Naomi asked in between bites.

“Of course not,” Ashessa smiled, turn to a servant with a request for a certain vintage of wine to pair with the poultry.

“Auntie, this game that we’re playing,” Naomi said, leaning back into her chair, “It must end.”

Ashessa hadn’t even placed the napkin across her lap, “I beg your pardon?”

“The House must end its rebellion against me. I am Reginald and Katerina’s representative, after all,” Naomi responded before taking a sip of her glass of wine, “And your branch is subservient to ours.”

Subservient.

Reginald would have never made such a snide remark. If Naomi had understood anything about the family’s history, it was easily the other way around less than four generations ago. Had her grandfather not gotten himself killed without a male heir hunting Blood Raiders, it would’ve been Naomi on her knees swearing fealty to her!

“Don’t make me laugh.”

“I’m deadly serious, auntie,” Naomi placed her elbows on the table, her face one of clever manipulation, “Oh, and Rebecca is eager to see you.”

Ashessa felt a twinge in her heart. Rebecca Sakakibara was the last living descendant in her immediate family–her parents having disappeared, though she suspected foul play on Naomi’s part. A five year-old girl caught up in a game she barely understood. It was well worth her life to see her to safety.

“What do you want?”

“I know that Katerina gave you certain privileges. Oversight, over my actions. You will relinquish those privileges and little Rebecca will come to no harm. A shame for what happened to my cousin Orion and to his lovely wife–they left Rebecca in this world without parents.”

Ashessa felt herself falter. How could she have known? Her experts had assured her that most of the family accounts and affairs were under special codes and protections, encrypted through Reginald’s tower in Saikamon, a tower that her own son had protected. Gaining the access codes was an impossibility–unless the tower had been invaded.

“You killed–” Ashessa muttered, the realization dawning on her.

But Naomi interrupted, holding up a hand, “Shall we retire to a parlor?”

Ashessa was still seething by the time they reached the parlor doors. Naomi walked with the arrogance of a victor. Ashessa clenched and unclenched her teeth behind her lips, trying not to betray emotion lest it undo her and with her, Rebecca’s future.

Heliocentric

Reginald let the music wash over the balcony as he began to conjure the lines he would affix to his next publication. He hadn’t written anything of a literary or academic nature since the incident with Naomi–her file sealed beneath the most stringent of DENT protocols–and he felt his mind turning to mush. Every day was another agonizing descent into mental atrophy. He yearned to do something productive, something other than being ground into the minutiae of operating a Holding.

Katerina was a godsend. Her perspective on operations was refreshing, gently guiding him out of the ruts and tribulations that had ossified with time and tradition. He leaned back into his seat, watching the sun lazily amble across the azure sky of Huola. She was his muse, his inspiration, though he often wondered if she knew he thought so highly of her, or if she felt the same way.

He closed his eyes, bathing in the golden rays as thoughts began to coalesce around something presentable. He would settle for anything at this point–an economics paper, a treatise on political philosophy, a commentary on Scripture. And yet nothing seemed to manifest beyond the opaque ethereal amalgamation of competing thoughts, fantasies, and dreams.

An intriguing harmony pulled him away from the rumination, his memories drifting towards his performances as a child. He could remember the hours of practice, how he had been forbidden to play outside, how his mother allowed the switch to be used to reinforce the importance of making no errors. Perfection. That’s what had been demanded.

But who would want to read about such trivialities? Everyone had challenges growing up as children, so why would his comparatively comfortable upbringing generate any interest? He sighed, wondering why inspiration left him empty, listless, floating on a sea of existence but denying him the pleasure of life.

Yes, that’s what the real problem was. It was an issue he had not even begun discussing with Katerina. Something was missing from his life. Something intangible, though he was certain that if he saw it, he would recognize it immediately. And yet he felt without drive, passionless, and without–as the Gallente called it–a raison d’être.

But he had everything that a Holder should have: A Holding, a loving wife, God.

“You don’t even believe in him, anyhow.”

He paused, Red’s childish voice resonating into the depths of his soul, a memory of a memory of a conversation.

He had been going through the motions, certainly. Saying the right prayers. Attending Mass. Kneeling when he was supposed to. But all of it felt like mere pageantry, an obligation to keep up appearances as an example to those he ruled. Nothing more.

Suddenly, on the balcony, beneath the warm rays of the sun, he felt alone.