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The Pale — Part 8 — Valentina and the Echoes of Empire

November 28, 2021
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The Pale

Valentina preferred to trade in rare art or perhaps even rarer vintage, but despite the often unnecessary risks, trading in information always paid well. Visiting Mateo was out of the question, since it was from him she had obtained the coordinates in the first place. Those coordinates led her to this overheard bit of transmission on the way out of Sigis Station with a very interesting find. What she heard had stopped her dead in her tracks, but she needed to be sure.

Felix was her favorite of the data brokers. He knew what he was doing, he had all the right contacts, and better yet, he was filthy rich. Supposedly, he was the illegitimate son of some greater noble, who had been fostered off to a minor house in exchange for more money than the family ever dreamed of. That was Felix’s version of the story anyway. He was reliable for business dealings, but boasted and exaggerated about nearly everything else, and he always had a flair for the dramatic!

His personal craft, his home away from home, as he called it, was a grand cruiser that Valentina found on the edge of The Pale, in Serenity’s Pyre. Despite the name, which suggested that some explorer had a bad time of it at some point, Serenity’s Pyre was a bustling sector filled with the traffic of a new system that was just getting on its feet. Better yet, it had enough people that it would be easy for Valentina to vanish into the crowd if she suddenly discovered a tail. Felix’s cruiser wasn’t huge, but it could swallow up the Asterias with ease, and it offered every luxury a semi-legal noble playboy might ask for.

“And here I thought you were holding our little argument against me,” Felix laughed as Valentina walked into a comfortable sitting room away from the main thoroughfare. It wasn’t the one he used for the Nobility, and Valentina was glad. Luxury like that made her uncomfortable. “You did strike me.”

“You tried to short me half the job’s value,” Valentina said with a snort, but she stood on her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek. “You’re a scoundrel, but your tech is exquisite and I have a curious transmission I need help making sense of.”

“Oh, intriguing,” Felix said with genuine delight. He poured out two glasses of something fizzy and golden that looked very expensive. He offered one to Valentina, who took it cautiously. It wasn’t poison she was worried about. It was the gold infusion that wealthy folks loved to insist on calling an enhancement. It wasn’t. Felix had strange taste in everything, and his taste in spirits was no exception. “Let’s off to the lab and see if we can’t figure this business out. I assume you have a recording?”

“Would I come to you without one?”

“No, I suppose not. Alright, let’s hear it.”

They weren’t alone in the hallway, but Valentina figured that was Felix’s problem, not hers. She wasn’t about to give him a discount if one of his nosy guests spread the information around without his permission.

“It’s odd,” she warned him, and pulled out her comm and casually tapped the recording. “Almost as odd as where I was at the time I recorded it.”

“Intriguing,” Felix murmured, and fell silent to listen.

…Relics are in there somewhere. If we can find-” the transmission crackled and became inaudible through the thick static that plagued all transmissions close to the Miasma. “The weapon… will pay through the nose… Prince Gabriel.”

“Well, well,” Felix said with wide eyes when the transmission ended. Valentina saw a cluster of Felix’s guests, all dressed in more finery than she could ever afford, watching them a little too closely. “The Prince, how very interesting. So, why did you come to me?”

“You’ve got some of the best Royal tech anyone can get their hands on,” Valentina told him, which was the truth. “And you pay a good price for information that’s worth anything.”

“I suppose I could clean it up a bit,” Felix said, and opened the door into his lab. He plugged her comm into his equipment and got to work cleaning up the transmission. “I suppose I do owe you one for that last little tiff, but above all I’m a businessman.”

“We’ll split it 50/50 if it’s worth anything.” Valentina rolled her eyes at him. She probably could have gotten him to do it for free, but this was faster. She didn’t like the way that cluster of nobles had been watching her. “Well?”

He listened to a snippet and said authoritatively, “Well, you have something and I’m interested,” handing her comm back with the finished product. He glanced at the three nobles eyeing through the plasti-glass and edging ever closer to the door of the lab. Valentina didn’t make any sudden moves, and she knew better than to reach for her blaster. She did set down her glass of gold fizz. “But it seems I’m not the only one. Get back to the Asterias and make haste, I’ll stall for as long as I can.” And with that Valentina slipped out the servants entry, down a series of stairs and was gone, hopefully not followed.

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

Now that Valentina has entered The Pale, the next cluster of the CELESTIAL CLAIM LAND PRESALE will be available very soon in the Gala Games store! Keep watch over Valentina’s adventures, because you never know when she may need your help!

The next star Cluster (The Pale), will be sold in increasing price tiers, so the earlier you secure your Claim, the cheaper it will be! Sign up for the latest updates at the ECHOES OF EMPIRE WEBSITE!

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