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Koller’s Gate — Part 13 — Valentina and the Echoes of Empire

December 11, 2021
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Felix’s station was somehow even more impressive than his yacht.

Immense stations dominated Koller’s Gate, just a small part of the Aurora’s Edge Star Cluster. This was the territory of the rich, powerful, and somewhat disreputable. Grand floating mansions hovered here and there, drifting with the mood of their owner. Felix had once told Valentina that he could always tell the mood of his neighbors by who moored up beside which Legendary Regional Claim day by day.

Fortunes had been made on the politics of the lesser-respected Houses, and Felix had taken every advantage of that fact. He used the connections of his many friends to move goods and information here and there. After all, many of them had the wealth to go wherever they wanted, with whatever they wanted onboard.

Valentina didn’t worry too much about all that. Today, Felix’s station was on the outer limits of the region. He liked to be away from everyone, mostly because his frequent company was even more disreputable than the usual fare in this cluster.

As she had only a few weeks earlier, Valentina landed in the grand hanger and waved at Felix’s hanger overseer, who looked as familiar as ever, down to the shade of his grease-stained overalls. He waved back, and Valentina went inside toward the lifts.

Felix was waiting for her in his favorite parlor. It overlooked the system’s nearest star, and had a luxurious but comfortable air. It wasn’t where he liked to meet his more important guests, but Valentina wasn’t important, even if she had interesting goods.

“So,” Felix said casually when she sat across from him. The press of a button on his side-table brought up a selection of tiny, gilded snacks, and Valentina bit back a sigh. Of course. Of course he wanted to eat and talk, and probably eat and talk some more after that. “Things have changed since the last time we spoke.”

That… was not what she expected him to say.

“What do you mean?” she asked, and took a few of the tiny, decadent pastries. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them, but she didn’t see a point in covering everything with edible gold. It didn’t taste like anything. “is there a problem?”

Had they turned him? Would Icy and Grumpy walk through the door momentarily to vanish her? She didn’t think she could blast her way out of Felix’s station if he had decided to double-cross her, but he eased her worries by raising a hand to stop her before she could even get to her feet.

“Not exactly,” he hedged, which wasn’t especially encouraging. “I reached out to a few contacts. I figured we might as well play the field, after all. Get a better price for you and a better finder’s fee for me. The problem is that there’s rather more interest than I expected.”

“That’s… good?” Valentina wasn’t sure what to make of it, but Felix probably knew what he was doing. “More people means better bidding, right?”

“It’s the people involved, and that’s why I’m talking to you now,” Felix said reluctantly. “And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but here it is. You have the rapt attention of all three Factions. Leaders, not some trumped up minions, and they’re all interested and for different reasons, none of which I have been allowed to know.”


Oh blast.

Now she understood why he brought it up. She’d been dealing with one underling or another from different houses and factions for years, here and there. They didn’t have much power, even if they gave her trouble now and then. But to have Lords and Ladies interested? Members of the Galactic peerage interested? That was a real good way to die very badly.

“What do I do?” Valentina asked, reeling at the very thought of so many powerful people knowing her name. “Do I sell? Who do I sell to? Should I run again? And where in the galaxy do you run from them?”

Valentina took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. “Ok, where do I find these nobles?” Valentina said, steeling herself against what was to come. “That’s the easy part my dear Valentina. Nobles from many of the fine houses as well as The Royals, The Arbeiters and The Garrison are meeting at GALActic Station right here in Koller’s Gate, I imagine to bury the hatchet. Truly an auspicious coincidence, is it not?” Felix said with a smirk.

“Now it’s all up to you,” Felix said seriously. “So, Valentina Barbaro. It’s time to make a choice. What will you do with this treasure of yours?”

Part 1 — Kepler’s Remnant

Part 2 — Sovereign Protectorate

Part 3 — Lightspire

Part 4 — Shepherd’s Void

Part 5 — Celestious Nox

Part 6 — The Crucible

Part 7 — Edge of the Miasma

Part 8 — The Pale

Part 9 — In Too Deep

Part 10 — The Quick Slip

Part 11 — Danger’s Dock

Part 12 — Face the Aurora

Valentina now knows that the stakes are higher than ever. She has somehow drawn the attention of some of the richest and most powerful forces in the galaxy, and she must now make a fateful choice.

Aurora’s Edge, the final of the three Star Clusters in the Celestial Land Claim Presale will be made available very soon, along with an extremely limited number of Ancient Claims as well!

Echoes of Empire Website

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