Status

Recent Statuses

2 days ago
Current April 2nd for me!
4 days ago
I left a very popular RP site because it was almost all teenagers, some were fine, but holy shit were they unpredictable compared to adults. A GM got grounded by his mom and it killed the RP.
4 days ago
I really wish I could quit this job and be anywhere else some days.
5 likes
6 days ago
As for 1x1's, I have had better luck with people (generally) responding to mine than responding to someone else. Can't tell you why, but people ditch faster, or just stop replying faster.
6 days ago
I had the opposite issue. I did group RPs for a while and enough fell apart I gave up (or ignored all but a couple players) so I avoid them now. Attrition would kill morale, then the RP.

Bio

About Me:
I'm in my late 30s, happily married with two young children. I've been role-playing since I was 14 years old, starting with AOL chatrooms and instant messenger (the dark days), before graduating to IRC, Gaia, RPNation, and then this website. When not roleplaying I am a GM of a raiding guild on Stormrage server, play on a couple breedable websites, listen to Kpop, consume small amounts of more adult-oriented anime, manga, TV shows (sci fi, fantasy, drama, Korean), and binge on romance.

I'd love to get to know other RP folks, especially if you're my age!

What I like/want in RPs:
Romance (necessity, I respect not everyone likes it)
At least 2 paragraphs per post
Sci Fi, (High, Low, Urban) Fantasy, Futuristic, Supernatural, some modern or psuedo-historical
Someone who plays male characters
Plots that allow me not to have to write realistic melee action (but I love to read it!)
Characters 18+
Players 18+
Intrigue/mystery in a story
Cooperative world building

What I don't like:
Players under 18
Children or teenage characters
Western or prehistoric settings
Plots with only action
Almost all furry/anthro pairings
G-rated romance

Message me if you think we'd be good RP partners for each other! Please note I do require romance, though I certainly do NOT want that to be the summation of the story. I also adore romances that have conflict and disagreement just like actual real relationships have. Some mundanes/players believe that all love stories develop "organically" in the story- but my real life experience has taught me you can have no chemistry with someone that would be great for you, all the chemistry in the world for someone you never thought you'd like, and romance is not 'organic' and predictable in practice. As a mundane/player we make the decision for romance because, quite frankly, we aren't the characters no matter how alive they might feel. They don't truly exist physically to have chemistry. If you feel differently we will not be a good fit for each other.

Additionally, I require players separate themselves from this characters. This should go without saying, but just because we write a romance together does not mean there are real feelings beneath. I am truly happily married. Please, please, please don't expect any fiction to translate into real life.

Most Recent Posts

In the time that Rene spent watching the space battle unfold, Solae had been giving greater context and detail to Bouardine and Bel'sian of what she knew about the conflict. The Kalderi woman had been shocked, horrified, and distressed to hear the lengths to which an ambitious duke and his minions might go in a quest for power. The diplomat considered withholding or sanitizing the more graphic recollections, yet she knew it wouldn't her audience any favors to gloss over or prune the abhorrent facts. It was for their own good that she swallowed her trauma and clinically discussed what had occurred with a level of detachment her mother would have been proud of. Bouradine was more eager, not out of interest in the self-styled emperor himself, but because he was trying to digest the nuances of their situation. The coup affected more than his personal life. Every merchant with any connection to the Eastern Cross would be affected by the conflict. With no indication the rebellion could be squashed anytime soon, he needed to brace himself for losing his livelihood, and possibly needing to shift temporarily into a new career.

Rosaria tired of the conversation quickly and excused herself. She was, after everything, still a grumpy teen who had her sleep interrupted. Once she was certain that the decision had made to return to Ranal Pindi, she found the rest of the discussing boring, a repetition of things she already knew or was ambivalent about until she was better rested. Mia promised to provide her a precise transcript and/or recording for her review in the morning. Solae swore she heard a touch of disappointment when the girl turned the offer down emphatically.

Yarue and Dasin remained, though she honestly couldn't suss out why they were reluctant to find a reason to return to their private quarters. Undoubtedly they knew from her dress and posture that she was still injured, as did Bel'sian and Bouradine, though the Syshin had more attachment to her and would have been more bothered. Mentally she wondered if they were actually intrigued by some new facet of her story, if they were uneasy because of her injury, or if they felt some misguided guilt in what they perceived to be a failure to keep her safe. Twice now she had a brush with death- and both were because of her own weakness and foolhardy choices. It seemed that she was a greater threat to herself than anything else in the known universe. She might have joked with her bodyguards if she thought they might see the humor rather than expressing annoyance and frustration.

"So these P-E-A..." Bel'sian started, glancing to Bouradine and Solae to confirm that she had the acronym correct, "they are what this man seeks? And he can not use them without you?" The expression on her face was one of confusion, more than when they had described their other perils and problems. The duchess could empathize that the 'alphabet soup' could be confusing for a non-native speaker as she herself had struggled with slang, abbreviations, and other linguistic hurdles unique to foreign tongues. Though they had not spent terribly long on Ranal Pandi, she also suspected that their technology was very different in how it was designed and what uses it served.

"Yes, as far as we know. I'm no expert," she admitted with a soft, congenial smile, "but to the best of my knowledge, there's no way to 'hack' a PEA, though there's been no lack of trying. There are hard-wired fail-safes that I was told my embassy superiors told me would make it melt down irreparably if it was compromised in any way or too many access failures were detected. It could have been hyperbole or it might have been true. The Stellar Empire has been known to take drastic actions with expensive and crucial assets." Solae could remember how excited she had been when she was approved to use the PEA. At the time of Tan's assault, she was still doing what almost everyone considered 'grunt' work in translating correspondence and helping ensure that missives made it to the appropriate recipient. No one had truly anticipated how precious they would be the the looming coup.

"I do not understand," the Kalderi confessed, perplexed.

"Communication is vital, and a PEA is the only way for anyone to send messages from the Sector without using ships, which I am sure you can imagine take much longer. They chased us- or rather I should say they chased me- because if I was captured, they could prevent word from spreading of their treason," Solae elaborated patiently. The Syshin were all too aware of how crippling a broken line of communication could be. Their race had never advanced sufficiently with their technology to be able to correspond with communities on planets within the same sector, and with the empire being so guarded, they had never been able to rally in a meaningful way. Those oppressed on Zatis had no way of reaching out to those on New Concordia, which was one of the many reasons that Dasin and Yarue had joined the Bonaventure's crew- so they would have the means to find and speak with those they had lost.

After a short pause, Rene still engaged with the terminal at which he said, the aristocrat inquired gently, "Is it not that way with your people? You mentioned they are slow to act?"

Bel'sian made a gesture with her hands that the others in the room intuitively understood to be akin to shaking the heads for humans to indicate this was not the case. "The Kalderi have ways to communicate with each other quickly," she said, purposefully vague since she was uncertain how much could be safely divulged. "Decisions are not so swift. Everything we do is communal, but there may be disagreements on what is best for our community, and so it takes much time to reach resolution. There are times when we are split evenly between choices and we must study an issue at length before a consensus can be reached."

"It is a different kind of bureaucracy," Bouradine added with a shrug and sheepish smile. "You see a bit of it with the art," he pointed out, so as not to make it seem he had gleamed a secret flaw of the Kalderi from Bel'sian alone. "Art's beauty is subjective because not everyone has the same taste. A lady might prefer a painting in muted tones, a gentleman impressionist jewel tones, and another only collect sculptures. If you have a husband and wife come to the shop to pick a decoration for their home, they have a different perception of what is best for their communal dwelling, and it's hard for them to articulate. Nuances, shades of grey where the right and wrong is less clear, or there isn't a clear right or wrong, gets them just as tangled up as us, they just aren't as selfish as our nobles, no offense your grace."

"I agree with you," Solae smiled, this time more genuine. "I take no offense because I know I am unconventional at best. I was born a marquise, but I honestly had never held the ambition to ever set foot in the Capella courts. Hopefully, this new station will afford me an opportunity to help the Syshin free themselves from the shackles of injustice." Rene stood at that moment and walked over to them briskly, his face betraying that something was very wrong, though only his lover seemed to notice the subtle clues of his anxiety. As he referred to matters to be discussed, she sighed rather heavily.

"We will rest. Thank you, Duchess Falia," Bouradine said with an awkward bow of his head. Taking Bel'sian's arm, he exited the room, whispering in her ear, perhaps trying to shed some light on the social insinuation of such an interruption or reassuring her. After the long day they had, somehow she felt that the Kalderi was the more calm one in the relationship compared to her human paramour.

"Are you healed?" Yarue asked pointedly.

"I need more time, but I'll recover," Solae promised with a charming smile under which she hid her pain. Yarue was dissatisfied and stretched his mouth into something akin to a frown but thought better of arguing. Without another word he and Dasin exited, the latter of which cast a concerned glance before they departed.

Rene summarized for Solae what he had learned, since neither of them believed it wise for her to watch the recreation of the battle itself. Proud and dignified as she was, she was still weak and weary from her ordeals, and the trauma was so fresh that they could not jeopardize her mental health spiraling further if she bore witness to the destruction of three battle ships. By the end of his synopsis, her shoulders sagged in discouragement, and she couldn't hide the despair that was painted across her delicate features. Since they first started running from the former Duke Tan, she had pinned all her hopes on getting to a PEA so that she could call the empress and be saved. The small flicker in her chest was snuffed with cold, dark reality that there was no one else that would be coming, no reinforcements, no one capable of raining retribution on the depraved, power-hungry man that had murdered everyone she ever knew and loved.

"We should consider staying with the Kalderi if they will shelter us," she finally said. There was no interest in the empress's locked correspondence. Whatever was sealed inside did not appeal to her in the present. She was no general, there were no soldiers, they had only enough arms to defend themselves, and their ship wouldn't win in firefight with a small, two-man fighter, much less anything more grand. It was hard to see how any information or advice the empress could impart would be of benefit. She had been buried alive hours ago, not yet a full day had passed, and now she was grappling with a future that was wretchedly bleak. "They are the only place we could be safe," Solae added softly. If Capella was compromised, there wasn't a world on which she could be confident they wouldn't face co-conspirators of Tan's.
By no means had Solae expected this to be an incredibly easy task, but she would by lying if she didn't admit to herself that she wasn't incredibly frustrated, and quite discouraged, at the information that was being presented to her. She didn't have the time or luxury to host a series of debates with the Kalderi leaders thoroughly explaining the merits of allowing more individual expression within a society. Clashes of cultures took years, decades, potentially even centuries to resolve depending on how disparate they were. Ancient Earth, the birthplace of humanity, had a history steeped in conflict over cultural differences, some of which persisted today. Most planets were a melting pot of the people who had settled them and changed over time, but some had become pockets of traditions stretching back millennia, and were fiercely protective of their customs and values.

"Mia, I'd like you to start compiling data," Solae instructed, knowing that the AI was monitoring her vitals and would raise the issue of how the stress was affecting her unless she was prevented from being able such concerns. Internally the diplomat was trying to calm herself. While she knew the nightmare was nonsense, all her fears and trauma lumped together into an impossible scene, it had a lasting effect on her psychology. The diplomat struggled to focus on resolving the problems rather than feeling defeated by them and all the ones looming ominously in their future.

"Understood, Duchess Falia," Mia purred, making some of the small gathering in the room look uncomfortable as she continued. "What would you like for me to compile?" she queried in a breathless, sultry tone.

"I'd like a history of the use of proxies, starting with more modern usage, and particularly when two rivals are competing for the affections of a lady love interest." It was a rare thing in the present day, but anecdotally it still took place occasionally when certain women encouraged their suitors to engage in contests to prove their superiority. Naturally, the more proficient combatants were partial to duels and feats of physical prowess. "Work backwards from today to the most ancient records to which you have access, and once that is completed, expand the search to examples of using proxies in larger conflicts and those unrelated to courtship."

"A parse of my databases indicates matches in excess of a million such examples with those parameters," Mia responded after a brief pause, no doubt due to the search to estimate exactly what size report would be produced by the request. This answer did not surprise, Solae, and she suspected that Rene was similarly nonplussed. Billions of people, over thousands of years, was such a large source that it was inevitable that unless they slapped on the most strict of limitations they would end up with a colossal amount of matches. The Kalderi would spend hours, days, maybe even weeks depending on how thorough Mia was and how many they recruited to study the findings.

"Thank you, Mia. Give as much context as you can for the fifty most recent examples of modern rivals competing for a love interest utilizing proxies. You can be more brief for the rest, but I want it to be as exhaustive an accounting as possible before we return to the Kalderi," she decided. The more precedent she could prove for having Rene or the Syshin standing in as a proxy for Bouradine the better; besides, it was a tried and true tactic to give an overabundance of evidence to support a claim. The Kalderi, like all intelligent beings, were more likely to make concessions rather than comb through an analyze thousands upon thousands of historical accounts.

"Unfortunately, all I can do for you is ensure that Miss Bel'sian is treated fairly, and that her partnership with Bouradine is recognized and honored. I'm not here to command anyone," she said, mostly to the merchant that technically could be considered under her jurisdiction, "but I strongly recommend you stay with them for your own safety for the time being." In the back of her mind she hoped the couple could also pave the way for other unorthodox pairs, or that they could at least broker better understanding between the species, though she was not overly optimistic that either the merchant nor his female companion were either willing or able ambassadors for such noble efforts. Not everyone wanted to be such a mediator and among those that did, there were many that failed spectacular, some of which she had observed in the embassy at which she had worked what felt like so long ago.

"For our safety?" Bouradine asked, puzzled. "Does this have something to do with that soldier that crashed near our camp?"

"Maybe," she sighed, not meaning to be cryptic, but not having all the answers herself. The marine had been in critical condition when she had been pulled out of the medical pod. Solae was reluctant to wake her and try to wrestle a coherent story out of the brave woman until she was in a better place with her health. "The former Duke Tan of the Eastern Cross has declared himself emperor and launched a coup against the empress of the Stellar Empire. Because of his betrayal, I was made the Duchess of the Eastern Cross," she explained, watching as color drained from Bouradine's face in horror at the implications. "The former duke is very ambitious man who I sincerely doubt will honor the treatise between the Stellar Empire and Kalderi. He's power-hungry and ruthless and that, combined with the fact he's had several victories without any resounding defeats, will make him emboldened to take risks."

"Do you... think he will come to the Kalderi?" Bel'sian inquired anxiously, her wings fluttering behind her back nervously.

"I think it would be foolish to believe he won't try," Solae sighed, silently taking Rene's hand as there were small tremors that traveled through the fingers, indicating just how terrified she was of the horrors that unfolded on New Concordia being visited upon their peaceful neighbors. "We came for help and to warn the Kalderi. As incompatible as they might think we are, for their own protection we must persuade them to see how dangerous he is. He is a tyrant who will try to reshape everything in his image, and I can assure you, that your communities will not be preserved or spared."
Surprisingly, Ten had not thought to pack many blouse and skirt combinations that could be utilized for 'formal attire.' There was a lovely pantsuit type ensemble, spectacular gowns, and casual wear for traveling and exploring (since it had been made clear to the criminal mastermind that they did such things), but he was not apparently a fan of the ensemble they were looking for. Solae laughed and made a joke about how he would probably lightly chastise her for failing to be fashionable. Too physically tired and mentally exhausted to worry about her clothes, she settled on a basic white and blue blouse intended for the pantsuit and one of Rene's fatigue pants, which were large enough to fit over the apparatuses on her legs. It wasn't what a duchess would typically wear, but she didn't care much about keeping pretenses. Bel'sian had already seen her buried alive and Bouradine was allegely much more worried about what her plans were than if her garments were technically appropriate under the Stellar Empire's etiquette guidelines.

"Mia, please call them in," the diplomat said as stared at her pants with amusement for about the tenth time since she unilaterally decided she would borrow his extra pair. "What do you think? Never thought I'd get into your pants this way, did you?" she said with an impish eyebrow wiggle and a laugh. Humor was one of the many way she dealt with her trauma. There was no therapist to be found and she didn't want to impose her feelings on anyway. Rather than worry her companions, she deflected and joked, as if she wasn't horribly broken inside.

"Yes, Duchess Falia. Bouradine and Bel'sian will be along in a moment," Mia purred as if too was able to be consoled by the apparent change in Solae's behavior from a sobbing, terrified mess to being reluctantly authoritative, jesting, smiling.

"Oh, my apologies Mia, but please call all of them except the soldier. If she's still resting, she ought to remain that way. I'd like Yarue, Dasin, and Rosaria here as well. It'll be tight quarters, but it should be a short enough meeting that it won't be much of an issue," she explained for the benefit of Rene rather than the AI. He looked perplexed, but if he had an objection he almost certainly knew that the computer would defer to Solae's judgment if she could find an excuse to do so, and there wasn't a threat to the noblewoman's health in having a few more people in her audience.

"I understand, Duchess Falia," Mia replied with what sounded like a touch of hesitance. It didn't matter. If she had to figure out how to walk down the hall herself, she would do it. Being a leader was not simply making decisions and dictating what others ought to do. In her mind, she needed to keep them involved, and solicit input when necessarily. The plot she had in mind for resolving matters with the Kalderi had several possible solutions and they involved more than herself and the star-crossed couple.

They had to wait a few minutes as everyone was roused from their naps, Rosaria particularly grumpy as she hadn't settled down for the night all that long ago. While the soldier was absent, her conditioned had improved in the past few hours, and Mia was all too happy to report that she was no longer deemed 'critical.' The marine wouldn't be healed for quite some time with the medical supplies they had on hand, and they had no plan exactly what they would do with her, but the good news was welcomed. With such a bleak forecast the smallest ray of sunshine was worth noting with excitement.

"I'll be brief," Solae began, an unusual way to start any sort of gathering, much less when you were a duchess. "We need to return Bouradine and Bel'sian back to her world and the Kalderi, however" she quickly added when the pair looked stricken with fear and disappointment, "we will not allow their relationship to be dissolved simply because another suitor wants to stake a claim. I propose rather than have Bouradine fight for the right to be her mate, we rely on the time-honored tradition of a proxy." Yarue knitted his brows together and the linguist took a moment to translate into his tongue since his comprehension was not perfect when it came to the the Stellar Empire's common language, especially when they delved into complex concepts.

"What if they refuse?" Bouradine quickly responded, so nervous he was practically sweating at the mention of a confrontation.

"Using proxies has more than one precedent. Think of the simple use of ambassadors," she said, gesturing to herself. "It's impractical to demand that the leader of a culture, world, even a city be all places at once, so they will appoint others to speak for them and with their authority in their absence. The logic is very similar with using a proxy. We would argue because Bouradine is not familiar with their culture and customs, he is authorizing someone better prepared to act on his behalf."

"But don't they require the actual person to do the... I don't know what it is, duel?" Rosaria countered, a little irritable, cranky, and groggy as she stifled a yawn.

"Traditionally I believe so; however, we have options there as well. We can demand a thorough explanation why it must be Bouradine. After all, he has the resources to hire people to protect Bel'sian, and it's an antiquated notion that a mate has to have battle prowess. Should that fail, we could point out that they have already accepted the human tradition of humans standing in the place of other humans for private agreements, such as when I arrived and spoke for the Stellar Empire on a whole. It's not the only approach I can think of, but I think it's our best approach," she said with a reassuring smile.

"Can a Syshin be a proxy?" Dasin asked after a moment's pause. "Humans buy Syshin all the time to make them act for them," he pointed out. Solae saw the logic, but she was pretty sure his motivations were because of how personally offended he was that a female wouldn't have the agency to be with whomever she pleased, regardless of whether certain males felt snubbed. His culture was so centered on consent that the Kalderi had unintentionally provoked them with the way they spoke as if the female's opinion was not the only deciding factor.

"I haven't had enough time to study Kalderi culture, so you'd have to ask Bel'sian, but... in our ancient past a woman could chose a champion that would defend her and fight for her since she was not supposed to do so herself. We could try to convince the other Kalderi that you are Bouradine's champion or, alternatively, that you are Bel'sian's, and represent her ability to chose for herself, though I suspect it would be a much harder sell," Solae contemplated thoughtfully, torn on what was the best way to tackle the issue. One thing was for certain- very few Kalderi would stand a chance against a Syshin. Where the Kalderi had flight and superior technology, the Syshin were towering figures, that were stronger, faster, and tougher than a human, which was what made them so appealing in underground gladiatorial rings.
As Rene returned to the bed and wrapped his arms around her, Solae was slowly soothed out of her violet mid-nightmare thrashing, the tactile reassurance soothing away the panic induced by her horrifying dreams. The diplomat's wailing ebbed to a quieter sob and shifted into silent tears before dissipating entirely. Her night terrors' grip on her was loosened by the physical presence of his reality. Visions of being trapped under impossible mountains of rock simply could not be sustained when she became subconsciously aware she was being embraced. Corpses and taunts dissolved into nothingness. She wouldn't soon forget the troubles that plagued her, but their torment would fade long enough that she could rest or function outside of reliving them over and over. Once she was cognizant, having such an incident would likely propel her into admitting they could use a professional therapist if they intended to rejoin civilized society again and not be irreparably damaged by their trauma.

"I'm tired," she breathed groggily as she started to wake. Brushing hair out of her face, she remained where she was pressed next to him, apprehensive that if she moved even an inch away that she would return to the phantom realm of death in which she had been entrenched. "I'm tired of running from him," she explained with a sigh. There was no need to divulge a name as only man represented the threat to their life and chased them across the universe doggedly.

"Sir Rene," Mia interjected in her typical sensual tone, though there was the barest hint of disapproval as if she had witnessed Rene's race for his gun and couldn't help but make her displeasure known. "I can summon the others for an audience with the duchess when you are ready." Technically, Solae still could not make the decision herself. Standard protocol was at least twenty-four hours must pass before she could accept directives from someone who had been compromised by the use of pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs. Her mistress was coherent but she was bound by the technicalities.

"I need to talk to Bouradine and Bel'sian," the linguist groaned, not moving from her position of being curled at her lover's side. Knowing she ought to do something and convincing herself to actually lift herself from under the covers was another matter. Fortunately she had adapted to the bizarre combination of numbness and sensation in her legs and did not find it as jarring a hours before. The synthetic braces silently accommodated her as she restlessly bent them at the knee and stretched them out. "Pants are out of the question," she added with a sigh. A social faux pas was the least of her worries... assuming, of course, she found the motivation to do anything more than dose with Rene holding her.
Truthfully, Solae was beginning to doubt that keeping her out of Duke Tan's hands was doing much of anything for her cause. It avoided her bringing legitimacy to his coup, it was better for her health, and it kept him from reaping the boon of her resources and linage, but it wasn't hurting him as acutely as she would have liked. Despite being a duchess, she felt largely inconsequential, as if she were an annoying bug flitting around his room that sooner or later he would have successfully swatted if he could not do so himself. Every move they made was on the defensive with the possible exception of the rescue of their two Syshin comrades. He was still inordinately wealthy, he had still claimed the Eastern Cross with little resistance, he still had allies that had been threatening enough to force the empress into retreat, and his army was well-armed, well-trained, and brutally effective. Slowing the war machine was not akin to making it stop. Eventually the conspiracy would unite under one banner and there would be a reckoning.

There was nothing they could do where they were now. They could try to save a soldier's life, they could try to survive, and forge a better alliance with the Kalderi, enough that when Duke Tan found his way to their corner of the universe he would realize that humanity was not unrivaled in strength. For all that she had seen of him, and of their own civilization, she was fairly certain that the Kalderi had technological superiority. Slow as they were to anger, and reluctant as they were to engage in violence, there was no doubt in her mind that they could defend themselves against invasion. Innovation did not move backwards. If the planet destroying ships of so long ago were not their military, nor associated with it in any way, the firepower they had would be spectacular. Solae got the impression they would only use it to defend themselves, yet there was comfort in having a place to which to retreat, a sanctuary that no ruthless despot could penetrate. It would have to be enough.

Then again, people were fickle. During her time as a diplomat the embassy, translating and interpreting various correspondence, she had learned that power changed people in unusual ways. Nobility, enlisted military members, and the disenfranchised might flock under Duke Tan's power so long as they believed his offer was the best available. Someone in the ranks would possibly get greedy and try to use the instability to take his position. Followers would grow impatient for their rewards. Revolution would give clarity that change was not always for the better. If Tan was unable to follow through on all of his promises, or wasn't what they imagined, betrayed oaths, or made any minute mistake, silent eyes and ears would question him. Every step he took would be compared to the status quo. Victories must be swift or the restless and immoral would lose interest, would withdraw their support, would yearn for the past, or jockey for leadership.

The linguist's eyes drifted closed as she mused on what could stir up more unrest in his faithful. Rene's warmth, his arm draped over her, his soft words, the scent of soap lingering on his hair coaxed her slowly into slumber. She wanted to believe it would be all right. If there was a divine being, they were more than overdue for a blessing and guidance, for answers to how to turn the tide without compromising their morals. Never had her family been religious, but she found herself passively, unintelligibly, muttering a prayer as her consciousness slipped away.

She slept soundly for a an hour, two hours, three, with no dreams. The heavy dosage of medication and the exhaustion as her body tried to heal itself as quickly as possible kept her mind from being able to do anything more than sink into a void of deep rest. Before she had drifted off she had hoped for peace before awaking to the complex, frustrating, discouraging reality of the world. Solae was not so blessed. As the effects of pharmaceuticals gradually wore off, and as her fatigue became less oppressive, her overactive imagination tugged on the recent memories of trauma that none of them had an opportunity to resolve with themselves, much less with a therapist that wasn't a machine running a software algorithm.

There was a distant whistle in the nightmare that grew in volume and more shrill in pitch. As she turned, looking for the source, blank space was rebuilt into a warped illusion of the embassy. Stunned mute, she didn't relive history, and instead took the full force of the missile that shredded the building. Concussive force blasted her backwards as it collapsed around her, rubble toppling endlessly as if a mountain of infinite rock was self-imploding of its own volition. The golden hair-blonde coughed and started to crawl in the small gaps. As she inched closer to what she thought could be an exit, or at least a place where she could stop and find shelter, it was filled with scrap metal, debris, dirt, or mangled corpses that she forced herself not to recognize. Gradually she became aware there were voices outside where she could not see joking, laughing, taunting her from beyond their graves- slavers, mercenaries, and thugs that they had encountered and in most cases thwarted during their adventures. The weight on her shoulders, back, and legs became too heavy to bear as she became buried alive, helpless to save her friends, her family, those that had been murdered or left behind.

She began to cry quietly in the middle of the horrific sequence, but as it reached a crescendo she began to scream aloud, undoubtedly scaring her fiance as she intermittently twitched and thrashed, trying to free herself of phantom boulders. Even Mia, their faithful assistant, was drowned out by the shrieking that filled the former silence of the room.
Solae was silent for a long moment as Rene bolted upright and began to string together a theory that gave reason to the inexplicable murder of his beloved. For the briefest of moments her eyes drifted shut and she had to force them back open again so as to not be a terrible fiancee ignoring very important deductions. She would have loved to say her investigative nature, dedication to imperial stability, and unwavering devotion to unraveling the mystery were the only reasons she remained awake, but she would be lying to herself. The loss of tactile reassurance, warmth, and comfort, albeit brief, were akin to being dumped with cold water. Grumbling internally she did her best to pay attention. A considerable amount of effort was put forth to not stare at his jaw, his cheekbones, the way his shirt hung off his shoulders, the way he had tousled his hair after his shower, or physically attractive attributes. She couldn't have done anything if she wanted to, not in her sorry state, but she was could admire the view while her higher functions frizzled in and out erratically.

"I don't like it," the diplomat announced as she pressed her lips together in a sign of displeasure. What he said made enough sense. There was never any doubt in his mind that he was innocent and from what information she had about the crime, they were not dealing with anyone amateur. The high-profile target, sophisticated methodology, fabricating evidence to pin the murder on someone else, all while leaving no trace who the real culprit with smacked of a professional. Although she had surmised as much when he initially told her about the killing, that didn't necessarily eliminate suspects. Capella was laden with the wealthy, titled, and privileged, all of whom had a retinue of individuals capable of committing unsavory acts (to put it mildly). Differentiating between whether it was an ex-military attache from a duke or a covert assassin marketed as a mercenary from an earl was the real challenge. Their best way to find the guilty party was uncovering what specific motivation there was to slay his ex-fiancee in the first place.

"We haven't stopped Tan, we've only slowed him down a little," she sighed as she turned her head into the pillow. "We can't possibly save the empire from a huge conspiracy." It sounded pessimistic, but Solae didn't fancy herself a hero. Perhaps when she was really, really little she had dreams of becoming the savior of the interstellar empire just as she had dreamed about being a professional dancer, discovering a long lost prince, or learning magic from a fairy. Much had changed between then and now. By the time she was an adult her ambitions were more realistic and involved maintaining her financial stability, getting married, starting a family, reviving dead languages, and being appointed as an ambassador that would forge important peace treatises of mutual cooperation.

The longer she was with him, the more convinced she was that Rene was indefatigable. When he had been accused of callously taking the life of his lover, he had found an avenue to reinvent himself, and thrived. When New Concordia was attacked by one of their own, he had managed to survive when all the marines were ambushed, and then even saved her. He was resilient in a way that was hard for her to understand. Others, like her, would roll for the punches only so long before they felt defeated and demoralized. For a moment she wondered if Alric or Rene's late mother were the source of his unwavering strength, or if it was an unexpected result of the combination thereof.

The silver-tongued linguist was more deflated. Rather than reducing the suspects, they had increased their number exponentially, for it would be exceedingly difficult to flush out insurgents in a political coup, as a common strategy was that some remained 'undercover' until a change of power had successfully occurred. Instead of taking on Duke Tan, their duty obligated them to take on Duke Tan and numerous allies, to wage war, to save and secure the Stellar Empire from those that wished to do it irreparable harm. Solae was not a soldier. In normal circumstances she would make first contact and provide advice to leaders as to the best way to compromise on cultural traditions for the sake of trade. Being flung into the line of fire was hard enough. Now that the only way to restore Rene's reputation and clear his good name was to triumph over their enemies completely felt impossible, especially since she hadn't even won over a major ally! The Kalderi were still uncertain about her and one moody teenager and two Syshin bodyguards would not save her from Tan's clutches if he got close enough.

"This isn't what I wanted," she moped quietly, her voice muffled by the synthetic fiber of the pillow she had buried her face into. It didn't seem fair, and, drugged, tired, and reeling from a traumatic event, their ominous discussion made her want to reject reality. She wanted to run away where there weren't guns pointed at her, enslaved races, and danger around every corner that could result in everyone she knew dying again.
Once he had crawled in beside her, she tucked her head under his chin and closed her eyes, listening to the soothing vibrations his voice made as it rumbled in his chest. The comfort he provided made it easier to imagine going to sleep and waking up the next morning as if everything that transpired was nothing more than a bad dream. Prescription drugs had been a source of addiction for longer than she could remember, but now she could appreciate why it was not just the 'lower class' citizens that fell prey to their allure. Peasants had lives of hardship, economic turmoil, and physical labor, be it through their profession or because they lacked servants to perform tasks for them that the aristocrats were able to avoid, such as domestic chores. On the other hand, the nobility had intense social pressure, emotional stifling, and ruthless competition in every facet of their life that meant the duress broke more than would ever admit it. They turned to drugs more than their less financially blessed peers for escapism and as a coping strategy. Solae was not buckling under the weight of her responsibilities, yet she couldn't discount that there was an odd chemical elation, one that was carried higher with the gentle pressure of Rene's arms around her waist.

"My parents weren't sure what to do with me either," she sighed as she listened intently to his description of his father. She was under no delusion that he would want to be her father, given how distant Rene made him out to be, she hoped they would be able to have some manner of familial relationship. "They loved me in their own way, just like it sounds like yours loves you." The duchess wasn't sure if she was reassuring him or herself with her commentary, but didn't want to think about it. Her parents had been involved, albeit critical, and had given her attention than many of her peers. What she had realized during their travels, though, was it wasn't the soft, gentle, understanding, and compassionate sort of love that others experienced. What she wanted for any children she had in the future- and she would have them, with or without the Empress's blessing- was to be a parent who really dedicated themselves to being that pillar of support and availability children of scions so often needed.

Quietly she wondered what it must have been like to be an admiral during the reign of the previous emperor. No one in her family discussed him much, but what she had gleaned, the late marquis and marquise were largely left alone because they were horribly eccentric, divested from imperial politics, and lacked any ambition for achieving a greater title. Because they were not threatening, having no military background or strong attachments, they were allowed to conduct their lives as they wished so long as they didn't interfere with his plans. More than one lord and lady had taken the approach of trying to be as unnoticeable as possible.

"It sounds like he cares more about how someone conducts themselves than who or what they are," she said, trying to stifle a yawn and failing, "since it sounds like he picked your mother on criteria than 'best political match.'" Whether it was romantic love, shared values, admiration of her character, or some other set of standards she couldn't suss out. Regardless, it bode well for her introduction to him at a later date. Her lineage was almost impeccable, but there was no denying that a marine and a duchess were not ideal, and it was important to her that she had Alric's support as Rene's last immediate family member other than an infant half-sister. It was also less likely her radically progressive philosophies would rattle him as much as some of the diehard, cold, calculating nobles that treated every union as a business transaction where no one could diverge from rigid confines of behavior.

Suddenly it occurred to her how close Rene's father was to the empress. Seeing the empress over the relay had been such a shock that it hadn't occurred to her to prod about why the Du Quentain patriarch was there, and the only other person present. There had been too many other pressing matters for her to question the coincidence. Now that she heard he had been close to her since the empress was a young girl, there were subconscious thoughts clicking into place, as pieces of the puzzle gravitated towards each other in a more coherent pattern than days or weeks ago.

Unfortunately, she wasn't quite coherent enough to make all the brilliant deductions she would normally; instead, she let herself be gripped by irrational concern over her fiance's affections. Proximity to the empress made her paranoid that Alric would prefer the imperial figure to Rene's actual lover, and that preference and influence might bleed over, resulting in their return to Capella being punctuated by unfavorable comparisons. Of course, if she was thinking clearly she would know that even if the empress fancied the marine, his past, coupled with his current enlistment, would make him an ineligible partner= but Solae wasn't really thinking all that clearly. She pressed her lips together in agitation at her inner musings briefly as she wound herself up. Just as quickly as the paranoia appeared, however, it disappeared.

"It sounds like he's close to the empress," she finally mused in a somewhat sulky tone. "That has to make some people jealous," she continued as if she never had fleeting fits of envy, like any other human being. "I bet some people would like to be in his place, trusted like he is..." After drifting off, she exhaled slowly, and subconscious conclusions were revealed when a small bit of mental fog parted. "If he cares about family, hurting you would hurt him, right? Do you think someone like that did it? Made you look like a killer to drive your father and the empress apart, tarnish your name, and hurt him?" Hazy recollections were that he said something once about being in high standing with her highness, which made her grumble as she wound her fingers into his shirt. "Just remember when we get back to Capella that I believed you were innocent first," she commented to make sure she staked her claim clearly.
Am I allowed?

Folks, Kymera is an amazing RP partner. Highly recommended!!!
While Rene was in the shower Solae took a moment to look herself over. There were strange synthetic lattices on her legs that functionally were braces to help give her the support she needed if she had to walk since her muscles and bones were still mending. She wouldn't be doing cartwheels for a week at least, but it was a temporary solution that she could appreciate was pragmatic. As an aristocrat on New Concordia on the rare occasion a noble was hurt, such as when Lord Armon flippantly decided to duel an acquaintance for the favor of a certain lady, resulting in both parties being injured, there were facilities nearby with a robust medical facilities. A viscount could walk into the center with a broken limb and expect to be pampered, to have every available resource utilized, and to walk out later just as healthy and refreshed as if he had been in a spa. If she visited someone in the hospital they were reclined in a plush bed, in designer pajamas, with no apparatus to be found marring their pristine image.

She dragged her finger across a section of her thigh where a mottled bruise was already fading, undoubtedly because Mia had pumped her full of all sorts of medications to help expedite her healing. Marveling at the bizarre pattern that stretched from just below her hips to her toes, she let her mind drift to the rescue during which she had been unconscious. Solae didn't regret what she had done, but she did feel a strange sense of guilt. As the marquise, and now the duchess, she had a responsibility to her friends, even if she did not consider them her subordinates. For better or for worse she was their leader. Throwing herself into a situation that left her incapacitated made her feel as if she had failed them somehow.

Even worse than any perceived shortcoming with Rosaria, Dasin, Yarue, Bel'sian, and Bouardine, was that she had obviously traumatized Rene, whom she cared more about than the rest, regardless of whether or not she would say it aloud in front of them. As out of sorts as she was, she had seen the panic etched on his features when he retrieved her from the medical pod, and the relief that washed over him when he saw that she had not been horribly maimed or worse. The last thing she wanted to do was make him as terrified of losing her as she was of losing him. They were each other's emotional anchors; she had lost both her parents and had no family, and he was still a man accused of murder, who was estranged from his father. She didn't want to be another source of anguish.

Running a hand through her hair, she stared up at the ceiling and let the drugs coursing through her bloodstream artificially induce drowsiness that would not have been possible if she felt all the pain her wounds must have created. There was an almost imperceptible hum that permeated throughout the Bonaventure. In a yacht or imperial vessel there would have been more of an effort to insulate sound. Cheap freighters such as their current vehicle did not bother with the expense of making the various heating, cooling, and electrical systems run absolutely silently.

Just as she was starting to drift off to sleep she heard the murmuring of a conversation down the hall. "Mia," she called out, stifling a yawn, and pulling the sheets further up over herself. "Who is that out there? Is that Rene?" the diplomat asked, more curious than concerned.

"Yes, Duchess Solae. Sir Rene and the merchant Sir Bouradine are having a verbal exchange," Mia proclaimed in an even softer, sultrier tone than normal. If the linguist had to wager a guess, it was because she had some sort of absurd protocol dictating how loud she could broadcast a sound to a recovering patient.

"Excellent, can you transmit into the room?" Solae asked. When Mia didn't immediately comply she smiled to herself and then added, "or I can just go out there myself. You did say I could walk..." It was a bluff but a computer such as her AI could not take the risk that she was telling the truth. With seconds she heard a slightly more muted broadcast in her room of the discussion between Rene and Bouradine. It felt a little intrusive, since it was as close to eavesdropping as you could be immobile in a bed, but it wasn't as if their subject was confidential. Rene also had to know, as Solae did, that unless they requested their privacy that they were never alone in their vessel- their souvenir from New Concordia was always quietly observing.

When her lover stepped through the door she patted the mattress beside her to indicate he could take a seat or lay down himself. "You know the saying that it feels like a spaceship landed on me? I didn't expect to ever have to use the phrase so literally. It's horribly uncomfortable see my legs like this and feel them not all the way. My brain keeps trying to make sense of it and doesn't know how to make the right connections. Imagine your arms being asleep where it's tingly, and you can move it, but it's also amazing unpleasant. I'm starting to think Mia's suggestion of getting some more sleep isn't such a bad one."

Stifling a yawn she turned her head on the pillow and then tried to wiggle herself over to create more space for him if he wanted to join her. There would be no intimate encounter today, considering what they had both been through, but she was honestly just as content and enchanted with his presence. Going to sleep and waking up beside Rene was its own special kind of reward, something she wish Rosaria, Yarue, and Dasin could know some day if they found their own partners. Somehow she knew the Syshin would more easily open themselves up to the possibility of love than her young protege.

"I have an idea for the star-crossed couple," she continued, this time unable to suppress a yawn. She was slightly droopy, her mind was hazy, and she was pretty certain the pain relievers were just short of causing hallucinations because she intermittently had the peculiar sensation of flying. "Only one of them is Kalderi, the other is human," she reasoned. This clarity was not a result of her present but rather the brainchild of their travel to this planet. Solae hadn't wanted to volunteer her rough plot of how to proceed until she was absolutely certain the circumstances would fit her assumptions. "Under the treatise, and common courtesy, both cultures need to be honored, not just the Kalderi. We can broker a compromise that allows them to be together or, if that fails, I'll nicely paint them into a corner about Bel'sian's agency and ability to decide who she wants to be with. Yarue and Dasin are half a breath away from accusing them of being backwards, so if I give them an opening to accuse them of forcing one of their females against her will to a male, without her consent- well, that would offend the Kalderi enough they'd scramble to prove otherwise."

She didn't want to stoop to manipulation. Confident as she was that Dasin and Yarue would be willing accomplices, and complicit in her agenda, she didn't want to point out fallacies of another species when humanity had so many. If she had to, though, she would open the door to save two people that were obviously so madly in love they were willing to risk their lives to be together. The Kalderi couldn't both boast of being a sophisticated, more advanced race, and practically enslave one of their citizens to another. For centuries they had looked down on humans for being violent, basic, and cruel, and if they had an impartial spectator in the form of Syshin, who had been maligned and abused for equally as long, comparing them to the worst sins visited on them by humanity- they couldn't suffer that. They wouldn't suffer that. From what little she had seen, the Kalderi were curious about the Syshin, and wanted to cultivate a relationship there. It would be impossible to do so if the Kalderi did not show that they could value consent highly.

The duchess flopped an arm over and interlaced her fingers. Small abrasions from injections were on her arms, but they were otherwise unblemished, as if she hadn't been trapped under rubble for hours. "Can you stay for a bit? Tell me about your father, more than you did last time. I have to make a good impression on him next time I see him," she said with a lopsided, dreamy smile.
"Sir Rene," Mia cooed in a characteristically inappropriate smoldering tone. "While Duchess Falia is capable of resting in her own room, her mental faculties have been temporarily medically compromised by the medication administered to help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, accelerate the healing process, and improve circulation. I regret to inform you that Duchess Falia should wait until the dosage of such prescriptions can be safely reduced before she should make any major decisions. Legally she can not enter into contracts, verbal or written, at this time." Half of what the AI said sounded like a scripted portion of her program that was dictated by a group of consulting attorneys that had thoroughly reviewed the code. Given how widespread electronic assistants were it was not all that surprising, but the fact she sounded slightly like a worried motherly figure was odd. The attachment Mia had to her mistress was unusual to say the least.

"So... she's drugged up?" Rosaria bluntly asked for clarification. Dasin, who had received the ship-wide alert that Solae had woken up, was wandering into the room from where he had been down the hall. Yarue was nowhere to be seen. Though the two Syshin were roughly the same age, same species, and had the same experience under Thorne, they were by no means identical. While Dasin was a little groggy from being woken from his nap, he was not quite as exhausted as his companion, who was still dead asleep.

"Your assessment lacks the nuance of the situation..." Mia began.

"Yes, I'm drugged up," Solae admitted. It wasn't as if she couldn't tell. She was aware of her surroundings, yet they were surrounded in a slight haze, and the fact that her legs didn't hurt was as clear a sign as there could be that the medicomp, via Mia, had given her something to make her condition manageable. Normally she wouldn't advocate for ignorance, but she wasn't sure she wanted to know what potent cocktail was running through her system.

"Dasin can help me put the solider in the medicomp," Rosaria volunteered, earning her a curious look from the male in question.

"I thought that Rene said he would..." Dasin interjected, confused why he had been suggested without the polite gesture of asking first. He was beginning to think that all humans had a quite unattractive habit of ordering around what they perceived to be 'aliens' because of some passive superiority complex. The way he was commanded so casually left a sour taste in his mouth.

"Rene stinks. I mean I can smell him across the ship," Rosaria said, dispensing with approaching the subject diplomatically. "I can't lift the soldier myself, but Dasin is stronger than any of us except Yarue maybe. We can get her back into the medicomp while Rene takes a shower." At first blush it seemed like she was taking charge, or issuing an ultimatum, but it was really a plea for everyone to collect themselves somewhat before they began having serious conversations about what to do with the lovers, the Kalderi alliance, and subsequently Duke Tan, who was no doubt plotting their deaths from across the galaxy. Jumping from one crisis to the next without remembering for everyone to wash, rest, or eat meant that they were disorganized, unfocused, and not able to look at the bigger picture. They had to keep their heads and compose themselves if they wanted to strategize. Intuitively, Rosaria understood this, perhaps from all her years being groomed to be a criminal mastermind for once Thorne retired.

"That is a great idea," Solae sighed, finding herself unusually candid.

Dasin glanced between the humans and lifted his shoulders in what was his race's version of a shrug before ambling over to the unconscious soldier. With Rosaria's help, who had studied the armor somewhat, they began the delicate process of dismantling it to extract its patient. They had forged a sort of rapport. It was still too early to call it a friendship, but there was a sense of camaraderie, of individuals going through a crisis together. The teenager flashed him a smile when she thanked him for his assistance. She didn't say it aloud, but she was thanking him not just for their current endeavor; she would remember how he, Rene, and Yarue rescued her from the mudslide for the rest of her life. A brush of death that put things into perspective as they often did. In her defining moment, she had been shown that compassion and loyalty were not weaknesses as she had been taught, and that they could be found in living beings that did not look like her, act like her, or speak like her. She was beginning to truly trust.

"I miss trees," Solae sighed, "the trees on New Concordia. I think I dated Lord Armon because he had a beautiful garden. I was so happy to be on a world that had such a breathtaking landscape... and it mauled me. When this is all over- if it's ever all over- I'm going to see if the Falias have any homes with big gardens. I'll ask the empress for a garden with lots of trees and not so much dirt. She'll think I've lost my mind," the noblewoman laughed. "It will warm her up for when I discuss the Syshin, I suppose. Once she's sure I'm crazy, not too much will shock her."
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