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Sovereign Protectorate — An Interactive Adventure #2

November 3, 2021
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“I hate Royals,” Valentina muttered resentfully, and forwarded the very expensive passcodes she had bought off a first-rate forger. He probably worked for one of the nobles himself. It wasn’t hard to drop an extra code or two onto the end of a package getting approved through, and the money for a mostly-legitimate code made the work worth it. Valentina was no good at that kind of work, or she might retire from smuggling. “Everything is red tape. Alpha Station, am I free to land?”

There was a long delay, but it wasn’t as long as it could have been. Some smugglers didn’t like to shell out for the good codes, but Valentina thought they were worth it. Sure, there were always inspections here and there, but a suspicious code would get attention, and she liked to avoid attention when she could. And even though her ship, The Asterias, held no contraband at the moment, official inspections were always dicey.

“Go ahead, Asterias,” Flight Control said at last. Valentina let out the breath she had been holding and pulled her ship out of the waiting lineup. “Mind the traffic.”

“Emperor’s Vigilance, Flight Control,” Valentina said. These types liked it when people were polite, and a little courtesy was as good as a bribe in the right places. “Good luck.”

Flight Control didn’t answer, but Valentina didn’t honestly expect them to. They had better things to do.

Sovereign Protectorate was glossy in a way that nowhere else in the galaxy could boast. It was where the real money lived, and it all orbited around the immense, shining, Imperial Palace.

It was visible from everywhere in the region. Every surface was polished and chromed. The grand, soaring towers of the Palace were lit with billions of tiny lights until it shone like a star. The air traffic around it caught the lights and glittered until the entire palace looked like it was surrounded by an ever-present cascade of many-colored sparks. Poets, songwriters, actors, and philosophers wrote about the Palace until it almost seemed mythical, like it wasn’t even real.

Valentina spared it a long moment of admiration, as she always did when she came to the Sovereign Protectorate. It wasn’t that she disliked the views, which were honestly unmatched. More, it was that security was tighter here than anywhere else in the galaxy and that meant that it was hard to get on with her work.

Of course, everywhere there was gloss, there was grime beneath, and that was where Valentina did her best work.

Nobody lived in the Protectorate unless they were legitimate, or they were legitimate enough to pass muster.

The Royal Houses all kept residences in the Protectorate, but Royals needed servants and that meant housing for them too. Valentina pulled the Asterias around and landed at an unremarkable, but large, floating villa. There was room for a dozen ships on the landing pad, but only four of the berths were filled, including the one she had just taken. Perfect. Life would be much easier if no one else knew why she was in the region.

“Hey Klara,” she said as she made her way into the villa towards a familiar office. Klara wasn’t a friend, but she and Valentina had worked together for a long while. Valentina might not have taken Nisha’s job if the contact wasn’t Klara. Klara’s involvement meant the job was solid. “Hear you got a bit of this and that for me.”

“Valentina Barbaro,” Klara said. She was a tall, waifish woman who dressed well, but just unfashionably enough to stay unnoticeable. Her jewelry was either expensive or fake, and Valentina couldn’t tell which from the door. “I see Nisha was able to reach you.”

“Got me back to Kepler’s Remnant and everything,” Valentina said and dropped into one of Klara’s comfortable, white leather couches. “He told me there was a fair chunk of money involved, and probably a little more heat than I like.”

“He’s not wrong. Get your boots off my table and walk with me,” Klara said and stood from behind her desk. Valentina followed after her. The hallway was lined in art, towering abstracts twice Valentina’s height on one side and a huge, transparent wall of Duraglass on the other. The view was spectacular. Although Klara’s villa wasn’t as fancy as some, she made the most of what she had. “You’re good, Barbaro. Very good. So here’s the job. I have a bunch of crates, a little something for everyone if you get my drift. I need some of them to go to the Arbeiters Faction, out in Lightspire, and I need the rest to go to The Garrison in Shepherd’s Void.”

“Problem with the usual shipping routes?” Valentina asked, since she preferred to know if there was going to be a problem before it became her problem. “Last I heard, there was still traffic going around.”

“Inspected traffic,” Klara said. She waved out over her incredible view as they left the hall and stepped out on a grand balcony filled with lush greenery, all flowering or with half-grown fruit. Back in Kepler’s Remnant, hydroponic food plants were purely practical. Here in the Sovereign Protectorate, they were grown in proper dirt as a status symbol. Valentina could hardly imagine the expense of it. “I need my crates to get there without being inspected. You’re very good at that.”

“Yeah I am,” Valentina agreed with a grin. “Right. Show me the crates and I’ll get them wherever you need them to go.”

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 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!