(21) Welcoming the Seneschal
The Regency Campaign (275-1123 to 276-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
Nightshade arrives at Nakege at 01:00 in
Mich has been working on nuclear-tipped ordnance,
both for Chuck's gun and for a new gun that he is planning to build
based on black tech. Setting up the tooling for the bullets will
take some time still, and the gun will take a lot more work to finish
the design. Mich offers an advanced optic sight to Chuck, but he
insists he's just fine with his unsighted gun.
The Seneschal should arrive soon. Beatrice
Drakenfoll was appointed without Kalida's knowledge, and while it would
be remarkably unusual for a noble to override the Noble Commission who
acted in the name of the Marquisate of Nakege, she could do so.
It would be a rare circumstance anyway, as most Lands have nobles and
staff already in place -- appointing a replacement rather than a first
person to fill the role would be a definite matter for the noble
This new Seneschal should of course be resident at
the main residence of the Marchioness on Nakege, but that isn't
possible here. The new Seneschal surely tastes like chocolate too.
They are pretty sure they know where she's headed,
but they don't know why she did this. Whatever she wants to do,
she has to do quickly because the Marchioness could undo the
appointment with the stroke of a pen. There's no-one on Nakege
who cares whether she's the Seneschal or not, except the Assistant
Seneschal of course.
She will of course have to pass through the Tukera
checkpoint, unlike Nightshade, and so she will be passing some
information to Tukera -- if only that there is now a Seneschal.
The question then is what did Beatrice find
out? She must think she knows something that the Marchioness and
her entourage don't, some way into the residence and its facilities
perhaps. Misha suggests they perhaps should not be hunting her,
but simply observe her for a while and see what she does. There's
nothing much she can do that would hurt permanently, unless of course
she could get to the hypothetical deep meson sites.
She had very little time to research, so she must
have run across something that prompted her to do this. She
thinks she can get something. Kalida agrees it would be
interesting to watch her, and since they're coming in stealthily, she
has no idea they are here.
Also, there's the matter of the Gravella. He's
been keeping himself to himself mostly, although he wants to watch
their transit through the system and their arrival at the mainworld
from the lounge. He hasn't been told anything about this business
with the Seneschal, but then again it probably doesn't matter to
him. Technically it could change who they do business with, but
it's not likely to change anything since they deal with the Forest
Lodge where the Assistant Seneschal is in charge. Anyway, they
come to Crow via gravcraft, as there's no land-based transportation
aside from walking through the forest.
Kalida is moderately inclined to fill him in a
little about the situation. She doesn't want Beatrice making
deals on her behalf.
Misha says that now the Marchioness is here, then
she obviously would be in charge of any deals.
That applies only while she is here, Kalida points
out. Once they leave, the Seneschal could take over and do
whatever she wants.
Kalida wonders if they could do the trick of
shadowing a Tukera ship and grab information from it. Mostly
they've gone after naval ships, not private ones.
Lucas hasn't seen their close approach and hack
method that they used with Helia. Robert explains to him that
they have to get very close to the other ship and stay there for some
The first thing to do on arrival, of course, is to
see if they can find the courier. The system is much the same as
they left it, the same Vemene warships in the same places. There
is no sign of the courier -- apparently they have beaten Beatrice
Drakenfoll to Nakege.
Sir Misha tells the Gravella that there might be an
issue with the Assistant Seneschal and
to deal with the Marchioness directly. He accepts that without
On the way in to the mainworld, of course, they want
to take a course to make it look like they aren't relying on their
secret stealth to avoid the Tukera ships. They have no problem
doing that, between Mich's astrogation and Lucas's piloting. It's
certainly sufficient to raise no suspicion on the part of the Gravella.
They fly in near Crow, then take the Gravella to his
hall with the gcarrier. It's a bright sunny day. They
arrive at 08:00 Imperial Time, which is 18:30 Crow Time, 8 hours before
midnight. He seems pleased to be back on his own world, where
heads don't explode and wine sloshes the right way in the glass.
Misha wants to make sure that nothing significant
seems to have happened while they were away. Everything seems
normal here, but of course it's hard to know if anything more subtle
The return of the Gravella is of course a big deal
to start with, but soon only his normal closer staff remain.
Misha recognizes his closest advisor, and asks him
directly if anything involving the Imperium or Tukera has happened
while they've been gone. He is assured that everything has been
perfectly normal here.
The Gravella invites them to dinner, but they
politely decline. The Marchioness says she has some business to
take care of right away, but that they will be back before too
long. The Gravella thanks her, and says it was certainly an
interesting trip -- more interesting than the Marchioness herself
expected, she says.
They return to Nightshade. Still no
courier has shown up; they would expect them at least three hours from
now if they came in today, or at the latest they would arrive tomorrow.
This leaves them several options. They can go
to the Forest Lodge and see what she does when she gets here, of course.
Misha asks Lucas if he is prepared to shadow a
moving ship just 20-30 meters or so away from it.
Lucas is under no illusion as to how hard that would
be. It would be formidable enough to get into position in the
first place, and if the other ship started maneuvering it would get
much more tricky very quickly. He says confidently that he can do
it, but if the other ship starts moving it will get interesting.
Tukera has here one outdated destroyer at the gas
giant, a destroyer escort in orbit around the mainworld, and one
destroyer escort each in the rough locations a ship would arrive from Mongo
They'll go first to the Forest Lodge and keep an eye
open for the courier.
Nightshade leaves Crow at 09:00 (19:30 CT),
still in stealth, and arrives at about 11:00 (21:30 CT). It's now
night, both suns having set since it's autumn.
Everything looks normal there as far as they can
tell. It's now night, both suns having set since it's
autumn. Through the windows they can see the Assistant Seneschal
and the same staff as before, apparently going about their normal
business. They can't overhear much, but the conversation they do
hear sounds normal too.
Robert hacks into the main computer system.
Nothing interesting has happened in the last few days, although they
have ordered some extra supplies and picked up an extra three crates of
bourbon from town, presumably to allow for the customs of the
Marchioness and her entourage when they visit.
It's now around lunchtime on board ship, and it's
getting near the window when the courier could arrive. Rather
than check the palace now, they decide to wait for that.
At about 14:00 Imperial Time (24:30 CT), a ship
comes out of jump. It is indeed a courier, and one of the
destroyer escorts is moving towards it. The courier itself is
accelerating directly towards the mainworld.
Immediately Lucas takes them up oas fast as
possible, but of course maintaining stealth.
They intercept the courier at 14:30, with it still
two hours out from the mainworld. It should be about 45 minutes
until it performs a turnaround to decelerate for mainworld orbit.
The transponder says it's a civilian courier, registered to a company
that Shark tells them is a front for Imperial Intelligence.
The destroyer escort is headed towards the courier
generally, but does not seem to be pursuing it, but rather still
covering the jump area. It doesn't look like that warship is
intending to stop and board it. Apparently not everything that
comes into the system has to be inspected, unless this company has a
prior deal with Tukera.
This means they can't shadow the Vemene ship, so
they choose to shadow the courier instead. It should be about 45
minutes until it performs a turnaround to decelerate for mainworld
Lucas performs his first shadow maneuver, and he
does so perfectly, locking into position.
Robert immediately hacks into the courier. The
manifest shows a crew of six, and one passenger named Beatrice
Drakenfoll. The only cargo is her personal effects, a one ton
allowance. The comm logs reveal that they talked to the destroyer
escort already, and were instructed to go into orbit and be boarded by
the destroyer escort there. That's all the communications they
had -- they identified themselves as a courier on Marquisate business
heading for the mainworld, but gave no special instructions.
A personal handcomp has been docked with the ship's
systems. It contains regular information on Nakege --
local officials, culture, time zones, and so on. It includes the
information that they can deal with the Gravella, and he'll deal
honestly, but he has no need to know Marquisate business. It
mentions the Assistant Seneschal under the name he's using here.
Basically it's a normal but comprehensive intelligence report on the
world, with a focus from the point of view of the Marquisate.
Kalida asks if he can access the comm logs from when
they left Jewell. Robert digs around some more, and finds
that they are under instructions to deliver the Seneschal to the
Marquisate of Nakege and do whatever she needs to assist her in taking
up her position. That message came from Imperial Intelligence,
not from the Marquisate Offices or the Noble Commission.
Misha had been assuming that Beatrice left the
Intelligence service and was doing this for personal reasons. He
is now wondering if she is doing this under orders.
That's really all they can get for now. Lucas
backs off to a safe distance, and they follow the courier in.
The courier arrives at the mainworld and enters
orbit at 16:30. The destroyer escort closes with the courier and
matches orbit close by, with Lucas slipping in the way of the tight
beam so Robert can monitor it. The Tukera ship tells them to
stand by to be boarded.
Lucas pulls out from between the ships as they
approach, but stays close.
The destroyer escort launches small craft. One
goes in to dock, while the other stands off a little way out of the
direct line of fire.
Shark tries to run a remote viewpoint sensor into
the courier, but doing so on a ship in orbit is much harder and more
disorienting than a fixed place on a world. It's too hard, and he
gets up very quickly and heads back to Sick Bay for a rest.
Half an hour later the first small craft
undocks and heads back to the mothership, and the other comes in to
dock with the courier. There has been no communication that
Robert could pick up. He suggests that either they need more
inspectors or they're taking booty off the courier. They'd have
to hack into the destroyer escort to find out any more -- and so that's
exactly what Robert does, as soon as Lucas has moved them into
position, which is a little easier with the ships in constant orbit.
Robert hacks in. There had been a message from
the first small craft saying that they were heading back, and that the
marine contingent in the second craft should hold the ship
temporarily. Internal communications show the Captain being
called to the dock, which seems to have irritated him and upset his
The Captain meets the craft as it docks and steps
aboard it. There's no sound coming from there, and no video to
hack into on the craft, but there is the corridor leading in. The
Captain comes back out, looking extremely annoyed, and gives orders to
release the ship.
Everyone is sure that Beatrice has pushed
buttons. She has something she can pull on this Captain.
This craft returns to the courier, then both return
to the mothership. The destroyer escort returns to its standard
orbit, and Lucas pulls clear.
The courier leaves orbit and sescends to the
starport, landing at 18:00. That's early in the morning Crow
The courier of course will need refuelling
here. A crewman comes out of the ship, walks over to the
building, knocks on the door and peers into the windows, then after a
while gives up and returns to his ship.
On Nightshade, they continue to watch,
locked into a position nearby. Or rather, sthe ship watches while
the crew takes a much needed rest.
At some time after 08:00 Crow Time (midnight
start moving around at the starport office. Nightshade
wakes up her crew after five and a half hours of sleep.
Shortly after that someone goes over from the
courier, and soon after that refuelling operations start with both ship
and ground crew involved.
Two hours later, a gcarrier leaves
courier. Apparently Beatrice is not taking the train to Crow, but
is headed directly for the Forest Lodge. Nightshade
The gcarrier is not in a hurry. It arrives
fours hours later, at 14:00 CT (06:00 Imperial). It sets down
arrogantly closer to the front door than the actual landing pad.
As Lucas locks Nightshade into position,
Shark goes into sparkly pink remote viewpoint on the sensors.
Two people emerge from the gcarrier: Beatrice, and
one in a non-military Captain uniform.
The Assistant Seneschal comes out. Beatrice
introduces herself as the new Seneschal, and the A.S. is clearly
angry. He storms out a torrent of invective that brings a smile
to Kalida's face. After a short while the Captain stops him,
flashing him an Imperial Intelligence badge. All three go inside.
Shark follows them in on the remote sensors.
Further in, they enter what is probably the Assitant
Seneschal's office, a place they haven't seen in person
themselves. The continue into a small connecting room, and close
a ceramic door behind them. No-one has said a word on the way in.
Shark can't follow them. Robert stays hacked
into the computers and monitors them, but he can't find any indication
where the three people went. There is nothing to do but wait.
Twenty minutes later, the Captain comes out
alone. He walks out to the gcarrier, brings in a fairly large
trunk and a couple of suitcases on a grav pallet, and takes them
inside. He dumps them unceremoniously right inside the door,
returns to the gcarrier, and takes off towards the starport.
Meanwhile Robert has checked the sensors they left
to look for any communications with Tukera while they were gone.
Apparently the Forest Lodge did not talk with the blockaders during
A couple of hours after they'd arrived, the two
out and go to breakfast. Even though it's mid afternoon Crow
Time, it's still only 08:00 Imperial. They're apparently
friendly, keeping up a constant conversation about light subjects: the
weather, what to expect as winter approaches, and so on. Local
things, like what harvests are coming up, how often then do a supply
run, and so on. To all appearances it's a perfectly genuine light
After the meal, the two of them go on a tour of the
Lodge. They cover everything, including the Assistant Seneschal's
area which they haven't seen before. There is no mention of the
Finally, they retire to chairs on the porch, looking
across the landing field and sipping bourbon. Apparently the new
Seneschal likes the local drink very much.
They've apparently synched with local time now, as
they go off to dinner at normal Crow Time.
With one person staying on watch, the remainder of
the crew go to rest. This will let them sync up with local time