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Kepler’s Remnant — An Interactive Adventure #1

November 3, 2021
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“Look, I owe you, so I came back when I said I never would. Talk fast, if you want me to stick around.”

Valentina Barbaro was not having the best day of her life.

She wasn’t having the worst day of her life either, but frankly, a day would have to be pretty bad to be worse than her worst day. Today, she had a bottle at her elbow that was more expensive than anything she would have bought for herself, and an old friend across the table, asking for a favor.

It was so strange to be back in Kepler’s Remnant. Valentina grew up here, bouncing from base to base and doing minor jobs for minor houses, dodging anyone with any real authority. It was a hard life. Harder when she was young. All the same, there was something comforting about being back on the turf she knew better than almost anywhere. After all, where else could she go for free drinks and easy jobs?

Moon’s Tavern was old and dingy. Half-broken neon flickered on the walls, promising a dozen brews the tavern didn’t carry anymore. The place was dirty and blaster-marked from nightly brawls that broke out whenever the locals got offended. Valentina dodged three fights on her way in the door, and was idly watching a fourth.

“I called you because I got word on a job that needs a lighter touch than the little fish around here can handle,” Nisha said. Nisha wasn’t his real name, of course. He was named after some Emperor or another. Valentina met him back when they were both spacer brats just trying to survive. If anyone else had sent her a comm asking her to come back, she would have refused. But it wasn’t anyone. It was Nisha, and she owed him. “It’s big money, Val.”

“I’ve never been swayed by big money, and you know it,” Valentina told him skeptically. At that moment the fight she had been watching spilled into a queue of patrons waiting for drinks, which in turn added three more willing participants to the mix. Fortunately no one was armed… yet. The bartender was eyeballing them too. Mama Moon poured a mean drink, but she also kept a weighted nightstick and a loaded blaster under the counter for just such an occasion. She didn’t much care if people fought as long as they paid for anything they broke. She had an eye on Valentina, too. Val raised a glass to her. Mama Moon grinned back, her smile crooked from a broken jaw long ago. “What’s the catch?”

Nisha was looking twitchy, which meant the catch was a bad one. That wasn’t always a deal-breaker for her, but Valentina liked to know what she was getting into before she got into it. Here in the booze-scented half-light of a familiar tavern, she was willing to put up with a lot, but she never took a job for the money alone. That was a good way to get into trouble she couldn’t get back out of.

“It’s gonna get attention,” he said at last between chugs from his glass. Valentina topped him off (he was buying after all) and sat back in her chair. “From, well, from pretty much everyone. See, word is, there’s something brewing on a galactic scale, something to do with the Miasma dissipating and all those ancient systems now within reach… All the big houses need to prepare, and we can help, for a hefty price. This run, it’s to get supplies here and there, get them where they’re going, and get out without getting nabbed.”

“So, basically, just like all of my jobs,” Valentina snorted. She was a smuggler, and a good one. The Factions having it out made things more complicated, but when three powerful people (or powerful Factions) didn’t like each other, there was always room for profit. After all, they couldn’t be looking everywhere at once, and they were more interested in the people shooting at them than the ones who weren’t. “Why me?”

“Because I can trust you.”

“No you can’t.”

“Alright, so I can’t,” Nisha admitted and proffered a tablet to her. Valentina took it, but didn’t turn it on. “What I do know is that you’re the type to stay bought, and that’s close enough in my book.”

It wasn’t the answer she was looking for, but it would have to do. Valentina wasn’t hurting for work, but she hated to pass up a job when one this lucrative came knocking on her door. It was good for business if people knew she was open to a challenge. It was a point of pride too. She wasn’t about to flinch off a job just because it might get the wrong kind of attention.

“Fine, I’ll take the job,” Valentina gave in with a sigh, and offered her glass to Nisha. He obligingly topped it off and clinked his to it, a spacer’s handshake. “Where am I going first?”

Part 2 — Sovereign Protectorate

Part 3 — Lightspire

Part 4 — Shepherd’s Void

Echoes of Empire is a 4X strategy game in the grand tradition. Players will begin their journey in Kepler’s Remnant, a zone within protected House Space. Follow along with Valentina as she traverses a galaxy rife with intrigue and danger.

And don’t forget to join GALA Games Discord so you can provide Valentina council in times of dire need! The first vote will be held in Discord THIS WEEKEND, November 6th and 7th!

Learn more at the Echoes of Empire Website, and sign up for the Celestial Claim Land Presale that begins on November 10th!