Ahre Khivu 25th Of April

[17:25] <@Minaplo> [The Horus Superfighter slotted into its cage aboard the Apostate dreadnought 'Reformation'.-
[18:28] <@Minaplo> [The Horus's cockpit was a permanent fixture of the machine, not an AC Suit or anything similar. So when pilot Ahre Khivu had to climb out, he did so by opening the roof hatch and kicking off from his seat. He floated upward, caught the lip of the hatch, and climbed out onto the waiting gantry, holding firmly onto the railings.-
[18:29] <@Minaplo> [Waiting for him at the far end of the gantry was a security team, led by a tall woman known to Ahre: Section Leader Tingu.-
[18:33] <@Minaplo> ["You are to report to Admiral Vlui in the briefing room immediately." Said Tingu.-
[18:33] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, Section Leader, immediately." Said Ahre quickly, lowering his gaze.-
[18:35] <@Minaplo> The security team watched Ahre closely as he sailed past them. Their gaze did not turn until he was well gone.-
[18:40] <@Minaplo> [If the crew of the Valletta saw Ahre, they would consider him a small Devoted- and he was, standing at around 1 metre 74 and more lean than muscular. His hair was a mousy grey, leaning towards white along his inner arms and chest. His mane trended toward dark grey, combed into long braids that floated behind him as he went; they were each adorned in a handful of rings of different colours- one braid had five red, another had five blue- all braids had five rings except for yellow, which had four.-
[18:40] <@Minaplo> [His fingers were long and rather thin; his eyes were a bright orange.-
[18:45] <@Minaplo> [He moved little of his own accord, reaching out with a languid hand to course correct when needed. His tail, which had been wrapped tightly around his waist for the entire mission, now swayed lazily in the air.-
[18:52] <@Minaplo> [The moment he entered the briefing room- a large, square room similar to an inverted amphitheatre. The stage sat at the top of a type of step pyramid, each step having a row of seats facing away from the stage. The stage had computer consoles as well as a large projector, intended to project the image of the briefer- made much larger- onto the far wall for those below to see.-
[18:55] <@Minaplo> [Standing at the top were a handful of people- officers and the like. Only two really stood out.-
[18:57] <@Minaplo> [The first was Admiral Vlui. She was a striking figure, standing two metres twenty tall and coated in fine black fur with bright white stripes. Her mane was short and cut, and entirely free of rings. Her body seemed to be pure muscle.-
[18:57] <@Minaplo> [The second wasn't a Devoted at all.-
[19:02] <@Minaplo> [She was an alien, although the crew of the Valletta would not consider her appearance to be very alien at all- indeed to them, she'd appear very, very similar to a human woman. She was petite, about a metre sixty if that. She had skin of pale lavender and long, high ears that tapered to two sharp points, which tweaked every so often. She had silky, waist-length hair of pastel red; her eyes were closed. She wore a robe of lavender matched to her skintone, with wide sleeves, a tight collar and a narrow hem ending at the very bottom of her ankles; her shoes were small, black and unassuming. Gravity tassels hung from the hem of her robe, keeping her hovering just above the ground. She was seated daintily in mid-air, hands folded across her lap.-
[19:03] <@Minaplo> [The alien turned to look at Ahre, although her eyes remained closed.-
[19:04] <@Minaplo> ["Welcome back, soldier Ahre." Said Vlui.-
[19:05] <@Minaplo> ["Thank you, welcoming admiral." Said Ahre, his voice pliant, his head lowered. He clung to the top step, giving him the odd appearance of prostrating himself in mid-air.-
[19:05] <@Minaplo> ["It seems things went badly out there, Ahre."-
[19:06] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, badly, admiral." Said Ahre. "I am the only one to return. The others, they ejected…"-
[19:06] <@Minaplo> ["And the status of the cruiser Reforged Blood??"-
[19:06] <@Minaplo> ["Completely destroyed." Said Ahre.-
[19:14] <@Minaplo> [Ahre's words echoed slightly in the great space. Vlui did not rush to fill the silence.-
[19:14] <@Minaplo> ["Disappointing." Said Vlui eventually. "The Reforged Blood was a fine vessel with a brave crew."-
[19:16] <@Minaplo> ["Forgive me, brave admiral." Said Ahre, his voice shrilling slightly as he spoke.-
[19:16] <@Minaplo> ["What for?" Said Vlui.-
[19:16] <@Minaplo> ["My cowardice. If I had stayed…"-
[19:17] <@Minaplo> ["Do you really mean that, soldier, or are you simply repeating what the shrine mothers told you?" Said Vlui. "What would've happened if you had stayed? Would you have turned the tide, done what a cruiser could not?"-
[19:18] <@Minaplo> ["… No." Said Ahre.-
[19:18] <@Minaplo> ["What really would've happened?" Said Vlui.-
[19:18] <@Minaplo> ["My fighter would've been destroyed, and with it all the footage of our enemies." Said Ahre.-
[19:19] <@Minaplo> ["And you would have died." Said Vlui.-
[19:19] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, undying admiral." Said Ahre.-
[19:20] <@Minaplo> ["Stop that."-
[19:20] <@Minaplo> ["Admiral?" Said Ahre, tilting his head whilst keeping his eyes downcast.-
[19:21] <@Minaplo> ["Echoing my words. You sound like a schoolboy." Said Vlui.-
[19:22] <@Minaplo> ["Forgive me, Admiral. I meant no offense…"-
[19:52] <@Minaplo> [Vlui pushed herself up out of her chair, keeping herself tethered through her tail.-
[19:55] <@Minaplo> [She carefully guided herself downward until she stood in front of Ahre; then she pulled him up by the shoulders.-
[19:59] <@Minaplo> ["All your life, you have been told that you are worth less than your peers." She said. "You have wasted more energies than they to chase the same petty rings. That is the reality we fight to change. Is it not why you fight?"-
[19:59] <@Minaplo> [Ahre kept his gaze lowered. "Yes, admiral."-
[19:59] <@Minaplo> ["Then start by considering yourself valuable." Said Vlui.-
[20:00] <@Minaplo> [Then she licked him on the forehead, several times, before returning to her seat.-
[20:02] <@Minaplo> [Ahre stood still, hovering dumbly in the air, mewing pitifully for a minute or so.-
[20:02] <@Minaplo> ["In any case, did you locate the last Maiden?" Said Vlui.-
[20:03] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, admiral." Said Ahre, stifling his mews with hard swallows. "But we weren't able to capture or kill her. The enemy retrieved her first. I landed a few hits, but not enough."-
[20:04] <@Minaplo> ["I suspected as much." Said Vlui. "These enemies vex me. They raided our supply convoy with impunity, then simply vanished. Then they show up at that sandbox of a planet before we can arrive. That shouldn't be possible- no ship can move that fast through slipstream."-
[20:05] <@Minaplo> ["Stealth, admiral?" Asked Ahre.-
[20:05] <@Minaplo> ["I've never known a ship larger than a destroyer to possess such stealth technology." Said Vlui.-
[20:05] <@Minaplo> [The alien at Vlui's side smiled- a gesture that meant nothing to Ahre, except feeling vaguely threatening.-
[20:06] <@Minaplo> ["These foes are not like others we've met." Said Ahre. "The one I was chasing… It almost turned invisible. Not even my scanners sensed it. That was how it eluded us."-
[20:07] <@Minaplo> ["A cloaking device, then, as opposed to heat suppressors. But cloaking devices suck enormous amounts of energy…" Said Vlui.-
[20:07] <@Minaplo> ["And it still outran me, admiral." Said Ahre. "I am sorry…"-
[20:07] <@Minaplo> ["You can't help being beaten by technology, soldier. And it sounds like they have an edge there." Said Vlui.-
[20:08] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Although… It's strange." Said Ahre. "Their weapons are weird. They still use railguns."-
[20:08] <@Minaplo> ["That is weird." Said Vlui.-
[20:09] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, but their capital ship carried a big cannon that just about holed the Reforged Blood in a single shot." Said Ahre. "And it wasn't a railgun or anything, just…" He raised a hand in the air and made a series of arcane gestures.-
[20:09] <@Minaplo> [Vlui narrowed her eyes.-
[20:09] <@Minaplo> ["… Big glowy blue energy stuff." Said Ahre meekly. "I never managed past Fifth Ring at the Shrine of Sciences, admiral, forgive me…"-
[20:10] <@Minaplo> ["It was probably some form of particle weapon." Said Vlui. "Probably only a little more powerful than our own disruptor cannons."-
[20:12] <@Minaplo> [Ahre nodded. "But their fighters were also faster and tougher, and their deflectors… I've never seen a kinefield of that magnitude before. It would have to put the Reformation's own array to shame, admiral."-
[20:14] <@Minaplo> ["Really?" Said Vlui; her pupils dilated rapidly. "That's alarming."-
[20:14] <@Minaplo> [The lavender-skinned alien leaned forward slightly, tilting her head to the left.-
[20:15] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, admiral." Said Ahre.-
[20:16] <@Minaplo> ["So how would you summarise the loyalists' strange new allies?" Asked Vlui.-
[20:20] <@Minaplo> ["… Powerful and mysterious." Said Ahre, after a few moments. "They likely surpass us in technology, and we simply have no explanation yet for how the same ship could travel that fast. I think we've taken them off-guard, but just barely. They have the Maiden, and they likely have reinforcements on the way. If they wanted to, they could probably avoid us indefinitely, meaning we would be fighting to kill the Maiden with no chance of success. If it were my call… I would probably dump a large load of transmatter in the middle of the system, cover it in gifting paper, and get out of the system for good."-
[20:22] <@Minaplo> The lavender alien laughed, now; her voice was clear and lyrical, and sounded beautiful to Ahre's ears.-
[20:23] <@Minaplo> [Vlui shot the alien a narrow-eyed look before turning back to Ahre. "I would like to agree, to be frank. But unfortunately we have our orders: the Maiden must perish, and the fleet captains are in agreement that attacking their planet is the best way to force them to a showdown. Who knows? Maybe this is one of those weird cultures that sticks to a single planet instead of claiming an empire amongst the stars, and this is their only ship."-
[20:24] <@Minaplo> ["That seems like a comforting thought, admiral." Said Ahre. "But you don't sail on water with only comforting thoughts."-
[20:24] <@Minaplo> ["Agreed." Said Vlui.-
[20:27] <@Minaplo> ["There was one other thing." Said Ahre. "The planet. During the battle, it… Glowed."-
[20:28] <@Minaplo> ["We detected the power spike, yes." Said Vlui. "I admit we have no idea what it means, but it alarms me greatly. But this isn't the time to discuss it- let the engineers and scientists go over your combat data and draw their own conclusions."-
[20:28] <@Minaplo> ["Yes, admiral."-
[20:35] <@Minaplo> ["Now, soldier, you are free to leave. Rest, wash, and eat." Said Vlui. "Do not worry about your survival, or your worth. You will have chances to prove your inherent value, I promise."-
[20:35] <@Minaplo> ["Thank you, admiral."-
[20:39] <@Minaplo> [With that, Ahre left.-
[20:39] <@Minaplo> […-
[20:42] <@Minaplo> [Ahre was almost to his quarters when someone leapt out of the shadows and tightly grabbed his tail.-
[20:44] <@Minaplo> [Ahre yelped loudly and tried to run; but, being in a zero-gravity environment, simply windmilled through the air for a moment. In desperation he turned and blindly swiped at his attacker.-
[20:48] <@Minaplo> [His swipe was easily knocked aside by his attacker- a tall, two metre tall Devoted woman.-
[20:55] <@Minaplo> ["Suchla!" Shouted Ahre. "Let me go, Suchla!"-
[21:04] <@Minaplo> ["You returned." Said Suchla, a growl in her voice. "You returned when the others did not! How? How did you, a mere 5th ring man, return when a third ring like Fyma did not?!"-
[21:04] <@Minaplo> ["I don't know!" Said Ahre. "It was luck!"-
[21:05] <@Minaplo> ["Luck." Said Suchla. "Fyma did not believe in luck, and neither do I. You ran. You abandoned them when they needed you-"-
[21:05] <@Minaplo> ["I didn't!" Cried Ahre. A sad little mew entered his voice. "I promise I didn't…"-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> ["Feh."-
[21:06] <@Minaplo> ["I can prove it!" Said Ahre. "The footage from my fighter-"-
[21:07] <@Minaplo> ["Like any of us are going to see it." Said Suchla. "No, I know you, Ahre. You were a coward at Reddening Furrows and you're still a coward now."-
[21:07] <@Minaplo> [She raised her paw and unsheathed her claws.-
[21:08] <@Minaplo> ["Sorry to intrude." Came a new, strange voice.-
[21:08] <@Minaplo> [Suchla froze. She turned to look behind her.-
[21:09] <@Minaplo> [Standing there was the lavender alien. Her eyes were still closed.-
[21:11] <@Minaplo> ["Master Ahre here volunteered to guide me to a certain place, and we were supposed to meet here." Said the alien. "But if this moment is too important to interrupt…"-
[21:11] <@Minaplo> [Suchla let Ahre's tail go as though it had suddenly electrified. "N-No. By all means, he's all yours. I should be going."-
[21:12] <@Minaplo> [Suchla leapt off the wall and down the hall at reckless speed.-
[21:13] <@Minaplo> [Ahre stayed in the hall, mewing; he curled his tail around his waist and rubbed it gingerly.-
[21:13] <@Minaplo> ["Are you alright?" Asked the alien.-
[21:13] <@Minaplo> ["… Yes." Said Ahre. "Thank you for the assist."-
[21:14] <@Minaplo> ["Anytime." Said the alien.-
[21:14] <@Minaplo> ["… Did you really want to go somewhere, though?" Asked Ahre.-
[21:15] <@Minaplo> [The alien laughed. "You're offering to be polite, but you really just want to be alone."-
[21:15] <@Minaplo> [Ahre said nothing.-
[21:16] <@Minaplo> [She tilted her head. "You can relax around me. I don't have any power here, I'm merely an observer. Why don't you take me to your quarters, and we can have a talk?"-
[21:16] <@Minaplo> […-
[21:17] <@Minaplo> [Ahre's quarters were a spartan affair: a bed, a wardrobe, and a collection of gadgets on a desk. He pulled one out of its magnetic holder- a thin, hollow sort of tube- and started cleaning his claws with it.-
[21:17] <@Minaplo> ["Removes the outer layer." Said Ahre, as the alien watched on. "We used to use wooden poles for it, but command decided that was too shriney…"-
[21:20] <@Minaplo> ["Of course." Said the alien; she once again took a dainty little seat in midair.-
[21:20] <@Minaplo> ["Can I ask you a question?" Said Ahre.-
[21:20] <@Minaplo> ["Please."-
[21:20] <@Minaplo> ["Who are you?"-
[21:20] <@Minaplo> [The alien smiled. "I'm what they call a Pleasant Maid. I've been sent here as an observer from the Overseer Empire."-
[21:21] <@Minaplo> ["A pleasant-? You're from the Masked Ones?" Said Ahre, his eyes widening.-
[21:22] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. But I'm not an Overseer, merely one amongst many of their many servant peoples." Said the Pleasant Maid. "We serve as diplomats, traders, advisors and, of course, actual domestic staff."-
[21:23] <@Minaplo> ["I-I see." Said Ahre. "But I actually meant your name."-
[21:25] <@Minaplo> ["Oh! Silly me." Said the Maid. She sang a few lovely notes.-
[21:25] <@Minaplo> [Ahre waited.-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["That was one of my names." Said the Maid. "In your tongue, it translates as 'A Pillow on Which a Weary Master rests Their Dinner Plates.'"-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["… Pardon?"-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["You can call me Pillow for short."-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["… Your name is 'place mat'?"-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> ["It sounds bad when you say it like that." Said Pillow. "But it's actually a title of honour. My masters are very, very serious about their food."-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> ["… You said you have other names?" Asked Ahre hopefully.-
[21:30] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. All Pleasant Maids have at least two: the name our masters give us, and our true names." Said Pillow.-
[21:30] <@Minaplo> ["What's your true name?" Said Ahre.-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> ["A deep secret." Said Pillow with a laugh. "Maybe one day you'll know it, if we become very good friends."-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> ["I-I see…" Said Ahre.-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> ["You asked me a question." Said Pillow. "May I ask you one?"-
[21:31] <@Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Ahre.-
[21:37] <@Minaplo> ["Why are you really fighting?" Asked Pillow.-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> ["To dismantle an outdated, draconian system and bring equality." Said Ahre.-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> [Pillow smiled.-
[21:40] <@Minaplo> ["… You keep- I don't know what that means." Said Ahre quietly.-
[21:41] <@Minaplo> ["Sorry. Body language. Your equivalent would be…" She blinked at him slowly.-
[21:41] <@Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Ahre.-
[21:42] <@Minaplo> ["Your line sounded very good, but it was just a line." Said Pillow. "What are you really fighting for?"-
[21:46] <@Minaplo> ["I…"-
[21:46] <@Minaplo> [Pillow waited.-
[21:46] <@Minaplo> ["Freedom?" Said Ahre.-
[21:47] <@Minaplo> ["Freedom." Said Pillow.-
[21:47] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah. I mean- I think you have the idea by now. I'm not exactly high on the food chain." Said Ahre.-
[21:57] <@Minaplo> ["Admiral Vlui was clear on that point." Said PIllow.-
[21:58] <@Minaplo> ["Yes." Said Ahre. "So… I've been kicked about most of my life for stuff I've never had a chance to fix. The Freepath Devoted offered an easier solution, so…"-
[21:59] <@Minaplo> ["Ah…" Pillow's smile widened. "You're like me."-
[21:59] <@Minaplo> ["I-I am?"-
[22:08] <@Minaplo> ["I've been raised since birth to serve my masters." Said Pillow. "I do what I can to improve my lot, but I began this life in chains and will probably end my life in the same."-
[22:09] <@Minaplo> ["And I would love to free myself… And that's where we're similar." Said Pillow. "Because I want to be free, but I don't really care about the other Pleasant Maids at the end of the day. I think you feel the same way."-
[22:10] <@Minaplo> ["I do care about the other Devoted." Said Ahre, a waver in his voice.-
[22:11] <@Minaplo> ["Alright." Said Pillow. "But when your whole life has been dedicated to serving others, it's alright to look out for number one."-
[22:11] <@Minaplo> [Ahre was silent.-
[22:12] <@Minaplo> ["In some ways I envy you." Said Pillow. "You're entrusted to fight. I wonder what that's like…"-
[22:17] <@Minaplo> ["Be glad you're not. Fighting is terrifying." Said Ahre. "It's all high speeds and one bad hit'll kill you, and… You have to be aware of everything, because everything could kill you."-
[22:20] <@Minaplo> ["Is that what it was like today?" Asked Pillow gently.-
[22:28] <@Minaplo> ["Worse." Said Ahre. "Fighting Shrinepath Devoted is one thing- you know how they fight and what they're using. But today's battle was… The enemy are better than us, and they have strange technology. Then there was that thing with the planet…"-
[22:30] <@Minaplo> ["The planet had a strange energy spike." Said Pillow.-
[22:30] <@Minaplo> ["That's a clinical way of putting it. The whole planet shone with… With light. I don't even know how to explain it. It was… It was kind of…"-
[22:31] <@Minaplo> [Pillow leaned forward slightly.-
[22:31] <@Minaplo> ["… Awe-inspiring. Beautiful." Said Ahre.-
[22:31] <@Minaplo> ["It almost sounds like you want to draw it." Said Pillow.-
[22:31] <@Minaplo> ["Draw it…?" Said Ahre.-
[22:32] <@Minaplo> [Pillow flicked her gaze toward one of the sparse decorations on the wall: a painting of an oasis.-
[22:32] <@Minaplo> ["Oh. That was the painting I made to pass my Fifth Ring at the Shrine of Art. I don't think I'm very good." Said Ahre.-
[22:32] <@Minaplo> ["Would you like to be?" Said Pillow.-
[22:33] <@Minaplo> ["Who doesn't want to be good at art? Great Priestess Lyti used to say art was the noblest of all the shrines…" Said Ahre.-
[22:34] <@Minaplo> ["Well, until we killed her." He added in a shamed mutter.-
[22:34] <@Minaplo> ["I can show you a few things." Said Pillow.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["Techniques from the Masked Ones?" Asked Ahre.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["In a way. Come here." Said Pillow.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> [Ahre hesitated- then gently kicked towards her. She held out her hands- and Ahre took them.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["Look at me." Said Pillow softly.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["I am." Said Ahre.-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> ["Good."-
[22:35] <@Minaplo> [Pillow opened her eyes.-
[22:36] <@Minaplo> [Pillow's eyes didn't have pupils; instead, what looked like galaxies swirled in her eyes, infinite possibilities in infinite combinations, all ready to be unleashed, just waiting for the proper vessel-
[22:37] <@Minaplo> [With a jolt he realised that he was no longer in his room, but instead within Pillow's eyes, sailing through the cosmos of dreams, seeing…-
[22:37] <@Minaplo> [… Everything.-
[22:38] <@Minaplo> [… And then suddenly he was back in his room, and Pillow's eyes were closed.-
[22:38] <@Minaplo> ["Wh…" Started Ahre.-
[22:38] <@Minaplo> [But the words caught in his throat. Ideas filled his head. Inspiration- raw, pure inspiration- permeated every element of his being, filling him to bursting, dying to get loose.-
[22:39] <@Minaplo> ["Paint." Said Ahre. "Paper. Gravity clips-"-
[22:39] <@Minaplo> [Pillow was already pulling some off of the hem of her robe. The paper she pulled from a sleeve.-
[22:39] <@Minaplo> [Ahre didn't ask why she had these things, nor did he ask when she returned with a full set of paints. He simply took them and went to work.-
[22:40] <@Minaplo> […-
[22:40] <@Minaplo> [Pillow had tucked Ahre gently into bed before leaving, his paintings tucked away in a special case.-
[22:43] <@Minaplo> [From there, she'd sent a perfunctory message to Vlui about some meeting, hopped on her private shuttle and left the Reformation.-
[22:44] <@Minaplo> [She dropped into the slipstream and left the system.-
[22:46] <@Minaplo> [She made it two systems before suddenly being dropped out of Way-space.-
[22:47] <@Minaplo> ["Prepare to be boarded."-
[22:47] <@Minaplo> [A few minutes of terror as a larger ship pulled her's in, docked, and opened the doors.-
[22:48] <@Minaplo> ["You had best have a good reason for this." Said Pillow. "This vessel represents the Overseer Empire."-
[22:48] <@Minaplo> [She came face-to-face with another Pleasant Maid, this one flanked by two towering Warslaves, plasma glaives in hand.-
[22:49] <@Minaplo> ["What a coincidence." Said the Pleasant Maid- this one male, slightly shorter, his hair a pastel yellow. "So am I."-
[22:49] <@Minaplo> ["Slippers?!" Snapped Pillow. "What are you doing?"-
[22:49] <@Minaplo> ["Boarding your ship and confiscating your cargo as I see fit, Pillow." Said Slippers with a bright grin.-
[22:53] <@Minaplo> [Pillow grinned savagely, showing her teeth- human-like teeth, but lacking canines entirely. "You've really screwed up this time, Slippers. I'm in the service of Sector Master Forger-of-the-New-Worlds. Wait until I tell him that you've started plundering his ships like a common Scumslinker or Defector? Ohhhh, he'll tear you apart."-
[22:54] <@Minaplo> ["Funny. You always were good for a laugh, Pillow." Said Slippers. "There's a new Sector Master now."-
[22:54] <@Minaplo> ["W-What? Who?"-
[22:54] <@Minaplo> [Slippers's fingers curled and uncurled in glee. "Conqueror-of-the-Last-Frontier."-
[22:55] <@Minaplo> ["… Conqueror-of-the-Last-Frontier?" Said Pillow. "Are you serious? They let that fuckup in charge?"-
[22:55] <@Minaplo> ["You really shouldn't go around calling Counts 'fuckups', sweet Pillow. It… Annoys them. And their loyal servants, i.e. me." Said Slippers cheerfully.-
[22:56] <@Minaplo> ["They used to be Archprinces. Now they're Counts. That makes them fuckups."-
[22:56] <@Minaplo> ["I don't disagree." Said Slippers. "But facts is facts. Now, let's have a poke around. What could possibly make faithful little Pillow tear mad across two systems?"-
[22:58] <@Minaplo> [It didn't take long for Slippers to find Ahre's paintings.-
[22:58] <@Minaplo> ["Art? Those silly furry puppets keeping you this out of the loop?" Said Slippers sympathetically.-
[22:59] <@Minaplo> ["They don't trust me to view the important things. But I was able to inspire a pilot to paint them for me." Said Pillow.-
[22:59] <@Minaplo> ["Nice." Said Slippers. He opened her case and took the paintings out. "Now what do we have here-"-
[22:59] <@Minaplo> [Slippers froze cold.-
[22:59] <@Minaplo> ["… This can't be real."-
[23:00] <@Minaplo> [Slippers held up two paintings. The one on the right showed an angry red distortion splitting across space. On one side of it was a starship, wreathed in a powerful rainbow-coloured deflector field.-
[23:00] <@Minaplo> [And the other… Showed a world completely subsumed in rainbow energy.-
[23:02] <@Minaplo> ["We detected the planet's energy spike long before the pilot arrived." Said Pillow. "This is what he painted. As for the enemy ship… It raided a Devoted supply convoy near the system terminus, then was patrolling the fourth planet within a few hours. No normal ship moves that fast."-
[23:02] <@Minaplo> ["But it looks like…"-
[23:02] <@Minaplo> ["Yes. Like a Great One, or an Overseer's Soul-Light." Said Pillow. "But that is, obviously, a ship."-
[23:03] <@Minaplo> [Slippers's hands shook.-
[23:03] <@Minaplo> ["We should destroy these, Pillow." Said Slippers.-
[23:03] <@Minaplo> ["Why?" Said Pillow.-
[23:04] <@Minaplo> ["I… Can't say." Said Slippers. "If we still served Forger-of-the-New-Worlds, then I wouldn't care as much. But Conqueror? He… Well, he and his pod… I can't say. I really can't. But this means something to them that it doesn't to Forger, and it means bad."-
[23:05] <@Minaplo> ["If you destroy them, he'll just rip it from your memories." Said Pillow gently.-
[23:06] <@Minaplo> ["Then maybe we should burn these, and ourselves along with it." Said Slippers.-
[23:06] <@Minaplo> ["What? Why? Slippers, you're scaring me." Said Pillow.-
[23:13] <@Minaplo> ["Do you trust me, Pillow?" Said Slippers.-
[23:13] <@Minaplo> ["Literally not at all."-
[23:13] <@Minaplo> ["Then trust my fear." Said Slippers. "Conqueror must not be allowed to see these."-
[23:14] <@Minaplo> [At that moment, one of the Warslaves walked over and tugged the paintings from Slippers's hands.-
[23:14] <@Minaplo> ["Hey-"-
[23:14] <@Minaplo> [The Warslave screeched at Slippers, causing the Maid to stumble backwards, his face blank with terror.-
[23:15] <@Minaplo> [Pillow scrambled backwards, positioning a desk between herself and the Warslave.-
[23:16] <@Minaplo> [But the Warslave had no interest in her. It jabbed Slippers with an arm and, mandibles chittering, hissed at him.-
[23:16] <@Minaplo> ["We must leave." Said the Warslave slowly.-
[23:17] <@Minaplo> [Slippers gave Pillow a stricken look- before rising and floating out. "Goodbye, Pillow."-
[23:17] <@Minaplo> ["Goodbye, Slippers. I… I'm sorry."-
[23:17] <@Minaplo> [The Warslaves left and the ship departed, leaving Pillow alone.]

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