“I was outnumbered and the outcome was inevitable. Though it wasn’t a total loss. I was provided valuable insight into the way Soliveré handles himself,” said Ophelia into the console screen’s main speaker. Her voice was even and measured. “He’s tougher than I recall, but I can use what I learned in staging the follow-up.”
Thousands and thousands of miles away, the Satieran Councillor nodded thoughtfully as he sat before his console’s blue glow. The meeting was taking place via COMM device — it was much safer than meeting in person.
“I have the utmost faith in you Ms. Varisian,” he assured the woman on the other end of the call. “Proceed as you see fit.”
“Unfortunately,” Ophelia went on. “The three frigates were indeed taken. They’ve been handed over to Quinida Utada and from what I understand, most of the crews also. Supposedly she offered them amnesty and employment. That’s a good number of agents we’ve lost.”
But the Councillor scoffed. “Hardly a loss. Hardly even a dent. The ships were practically worthless and their crews replaceable. Their theft is something I’m not concerned about.”
“Well I am,” put in another woman’s voice, the Ellegian Councillor. “True, we are not hurting for ships or bodies, but if word of this gets out? It will put a crack in the Society’s image. That a few traitors and an Archetian gang scum can so easily commandeer our ships? Our agents? It’s absurd. And now it’s accurate. If people on Ellegy, on Satieri, on Vescent, Ascendia, any of our holdings, if they find out about this–”
“Then they won’t,” the Satierian interrupted sternly. “We’ll make sure the story stays contained. We’ll double the Department of Information’s efforts in flagging any mention of Soliveré or Utada, Archeti, any of it.”
The Vescentian Councillor, an older, grizzly man, spoke up. “But what of the girl? Adler. The woman. One of my own.”
“Yes, we’ve got data tracking set on her too–” the Satieran began, but was cut off.
“No, no,” said the older Vescentian man, his voice gruff and flustered. “Tell me, was she on Archeti? What was she doing? Was she with them?”
The line was quiet for a moment until Ophelia responded. “I believe so, but I personally didn’t see her. It’s safe to say she was part of a separate boarding team.”
A sudden thud filled the line, as if the Vescentian man had slammed his fist into a table. “Next time, make her a priority. I need her returned to Vescent as soon as possible. Do you understand?”
The woman from Ellegy made a murmur of disapproval. “If I may ask, Councillor, we all agree that the entire crew of the Dionysian is a risk. Why exactly you are so concerned with Dr. Adler in specific?”
“She knows things!” the Vescentian man growled. “Or she soon will! From her fiance! Her fiance — he was the one writing that report on his — he could have ruined us all!”
“If you are referring to Ren Calimore and his investigation into your pre-Council identity,” the Ellegian woman said coldly, “that is entirely your fault. You failed in being thorough in its eradication. You’ll notice that none of your fellow Councillors have run across the issue. We will not have Varisian reprioritize in order to solve your personal mistake.”
“If we don’t get Adler,” he grunted, “we’ll all suffer. Before she left my city, she was talking. Asking too many questions! She sticks her nose where it does — “
“Frankly, Councillor, your obsession with her is becoming a tired subject.”
“Obsession?” he growled. “It’s not — don’t insult me — “
“No doubt the Dionysian is keeping quiet now,” said the Satierian man sharply, interrupting all of them. “They’ll want to lay low after this ‘victory’ of theirs. But we’ll continue the pursuit.” He drummed his fingers on his desk. “They’re getting braver, clearly. Braver and bolder. So time is of the essence. We cannot allow another attack. Is that understood?”
“Yes sir,” Ophelia said briskly. “I’ve already begun the next phase. I hope to have results within the month.”
“Excellent work, Ms. Varisian,” he replied. “We look forward to your update.”
– – – – – – – – – – – –
“Are we really getting rid of that ship Callahan gave us?” Addy asked from her seat atop the cabinet, swinging her legs toward the floor. Beside her, Corra pulled her hand along the row of guns hung on the armory wall before her. She was picking out the best weapon for the job — she only hoped she wouldn’t have to use it.
Because this job would be easy, or so Corra was sincerely hoping. It was simple on paper, at least: sell one of Callahan’s ships to a dealer named Mica. The ship was already sitting in the Beacon’s cargo bay, and apparently Addy had grown quite fond of the vessel.
“I’ve never even seen one of those models before,” she gushed. “They’re incredibly rare. Cyrus was so jealous when I told him about it. Do you have any idea how advanced it is?”
Corra snorted. Ironically, that was the same question Callahan himself had asked her. Of course, Addy (unlike him) hadn’t meant it to insult her intelligence, but nonetheless, she gave the same vacant, “Not really,” as she finally settled on a discreet handgun to keep in her inside jacket pocket.
“Are you sure we can’t just keep it?” Addy asked with a grin, sliding back onto the ground with a thump as Corra made for the door. “I know we were just supposed to smuggle it here and sell it but, c’mon.” She nudged Corra teasingly with her elbow. “It’s already in our cargo bay, what’s to stop us from, y’know…” She made a flying motion with her hand in the air.
Despite herself, Corra couldn’t help but laugh. “That’ll be a great thing to add to our track record,” she mused. “Failed robberies, worthless bank jobs and stealing our clients’ products. We’re great at this.”
“I told you I’d be a natural at this whole space pirate thing.” Addy beamed.
“You’re the terror of the skies, surely,” Corra agreed, shaking her head. “But tell me. Do you like those new assistant engineers we hired?”
“Oh yeah. They’re doing great.”
“What about the deckhands? And the chef?” Addy nodded. “If we steal Callahan’s ship, then how will we get paid? And if we don’t get paid then how will we pay the crew? And if we don’t pay the crew–”
“Well if you’re gonna be logical about it sure,” Addy laughed, rolling her eyes dramatically. “It’s still a nice ship.”
“That, I won’t argue with.” Corra sighed as she hopped down the steps towards the cargo bay, Addy on her tail.