Snakes and Starships: I

Spoiler warning below for various Starship Promise routes. Read on at your own peril.

 

 

Antares’ route: Antares has been promoted to Commodore and has a high leadership role amid others like him.
Atlas’ and Tyrian’s route: Atlas and SP’s MC (here named Jenna) are together on the promise. Tyrian made his appearance as per Atlas’ route, which led to the happenings of his own route. At the end of Tyrian Season 1 he’s on death row thanks to the Union, but has somehow escaped custody.
Orion’s route: There is a tense, but present understanding between he and Antares, and they have the ability to contact one another.

Jaxon’s route: Rumour has it, in the bloody coup staged by Rastaban Saiph he killed the former emperor to claim the title himself. Saiph’s daughter – Miho – is rumoured to have killed Jaxon’s ex in a disagreement over ‘who was more worthy of him’. This rumour is unsubstantiated.

 

General setting: With Tiberius Fox out of the picture – the Empire’s most active and vocal militant force – Rastaban Saiph, an Empire general, emerged with unprecedented force, assassinated the generally unknown emperor of the Galactic Liberation Front, and crowned himself in charge.

 

I

 

“I can’t believe this is still being plastered all over the galaxy,” Miho snorted, scrolling through The Jewel Box, then back up to a specific image. “Blah blah, kidnapped an Empire princess, blah blah take the culprit alive at all costs…”

“You’re taking this too lightly,” the man to her left on the bridge chided, but Miho just grinned up at him.

“And you take everything too seriously, Terovin,” she chuckled, tossing her tablet down onto the console as they came out of warp at the co-ordinates she’d set earlier. “That Empire ass can set as high a bounty on me as he likes, it’ll get him nowhere.”

“I agree it’s unlikely you’ll be betrayed by the people we help, Captain, but there are plenty of credit-hungry bounty hunters who’d jump at the chance to turn you in.”

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” Miho grumped. “Any bounty hunter worth their stars will take one look at that listing, realise it’s dirty Empire money, and decide against getting involved, while the idiots who don’t know better have no chance of catching me anyway.”

Terovin just grunted, and manually began to manoeuvre the Excellon closer to the large Empire freighter moving at sub-light speed toward Cassius V.

The other vessel seemed not to notice their approach, but neither on the Exellon’s bridge seemed the least bit surprised.

“You ready for this?” came a gruff voice from the corridor, before a huge tank of a man stomped into view.

“As always,” Miho smiled, standing to flex her shoulders. “A total cake-walk.”

“Captain!” Terovin barked just as Miho joined her compatriot in the hall. “An attack class Empire ship just appeared on our scanner.”

“What’s their transponder signature?” she grumbled, looking back to the monitors to await the answer.

“Ahh… TD096-Y-76,” he reported, then looked up and over at his captain. “It’s Commodore Fairchild.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Miho cursed, throwing herself into seat while gesturing sharply with her hand. “Get us out of here.”

“Well that was productive,” the large man standing behind her rumbled, sour and surly.

“Why aren’t we moving?” Miho growled, glowering at her first officer.

“We’re locked in a tractor-beam,” Terovin reported. “Our magnetic reflux drive it still out of commission.”

“Perfect,” she muttered, raking her fingers through her hair.

“What now?” the large man queried, and Miho stood again, squaring her shoulders.

“Dress-ups,” she sighed.

“Seriously?” Terovin blinked. “There is absolutely no way Commodore Fairchild hasn’t seen that bounty notice.”

“What’s he going to do? Throw me in the brig?” she snorted, but Terovin didn’t look convinced.

“We both know he’s not everything he appears to be,” he pointed out. “Our luck has held so far, but this is a really risky gambit.”

“No choice,” she shrugged in resignation. “Come on, you’re with me.”

 

Antares stood ready with his boarding party, his usual steely expression coloured only by the red visor obscuring his eyes. He had plenty of other things to do with his time, but the unmarked ship running stealth so close to an Empire freighter couldn’t be ignored.

“They’ve cut thrusters, Commodore,” Corvus reported, and Antares nodded.

“Good,” he said curtly. “Let’s deal with this quickly.”

There was a deep rumble as the breaching clamps locked in on the captive ship, then several sharp hisses as the airlock between was pressurised.

He led from the front, with battle-ready Empire soldiers at his back, and with all confidence he stepped across the threshold… to be greeted by two figures.

“Huh?” one soldier ejected, his voice slightly muffled by his helmet, but not his surprise.

“I hope you have a very good reason for this, Commodore,” Miho dropped, her tone dripping with barely restrained annoyance.

Though he couldn’t possibly have anticipated her appearance, Antares did not flinch, nor did his impassive expression falter.

“Highness,” he acknowledged, bowing with effortless grace, and his soldiers followed suit.

“Kindly unhand my ship,” she dropped, staring flatly through Antares’ visor with expectance.

Her posture was perfect, her attire clearly of Empire origin, and the crown nestled in the mahogany tumble of her hair clearly declared she outranked even the Commodore.

Not that you’d know if from his reaction.

“Please understand, Highness,” he began evenly, despite the intensity of Miho’s gaze, “the Empire has been on high alert after your kidnapping, yet here you are in command of your own ship?”

Visibly, Miho’s irritation increased, while Antares remained ice-cold.

“Obviously,” she dropped, lips pursed. “And I do not intend to address your bafflement.”

Her chin tipped upward a little in a haughty gesture, but still Antares seemed unmoved, even if his soldiers began to shift a little uncomfortably.

Two wills: they seemed somehow to glow through the pace between them, burn and crackle.

“Regardless, I am unable to release your ship until I am satisfied you’re in no danger,” Antares told her flatly. “If this is your ship and crew, tell them to stand down while my people conduct their sweep.”

Terovin was the first to react, lifting his blaster a little higher, but Miho’s face slowly lit up with a smile.

“So devoted,” she praised – a voice of smooth, natural honey. “Very well.”

She stepped forward, eyes still locked, and offered him her hand.

“You shall entertain me in the meantime,” she added, gaze narrowing slightly until he took her hand and bent over it, touching his lips ever so lightly to the back of it.

“You are welcome aboard my ship, Highness,” Antares said as he straightened, resuming eye contact immediately.

Again, Terovin’s feet shifted, and Miho turned to him.

“Co-operate with Commodore Fairchild’s soldiers,” she commanded, and though she could not see his expression through the visor of his helmet, she knew he was scowling. “I have nothing to fear in his company, rest assured.”

It was then Antares who held his hand out to Miho, who -with all the graciousness in the galaxy – accepted his offering… and refused to grimace when his fingers coiled around hers almost painfully.

Leaving Terovin and her crew on the Excellon, Miho was escorted onto Antares’ ship all the way to his private quarters.

 

When the door hissed closed behind them, Miho remained silent and waited for Antares to finish his scrutiny.

“The last time I saw you,” he said finally, “you were beaming proudly behind your father as he seized control of the Empire.”

“Oh? You were there?” Miho queried, but Antares knew she’d seen him. “I didn’t think respect was your forte.”

At this taunting he took at large step toward her, but Miho did not move.

“Do not forget who I am,” she warned him instead, continuing to stare at him from beneath her lashes. “I’m here as a courtesy, because dressing you down in front of your men…”

“You’re here because I captured your ship,” he interrupted. “And because the Emperor listed a bounty all over the universe demanding your kidnapper and you, be brought to him.”

“I wasn’t aware you were a bounty hunter,” Miho retorted coldly, “let alone someone eager to do the Emperor’s bidding.”

“What are you up to?” Antares pressed, leaning a little toward her face, and Miho’s upper lip curled a little.

“When your soldiers are finished searching my ship, I will return to my business unhampered,” she told him sternly, turning her shoulder and slipping around him until he took her arm firmly. “Do not forget who I am,” she repeated, her sneer now full of pointed threat.

“And what would that be, Miho?” he sniffed, so close to her face she could feel his breath of her lips. “Empire militant? Assassin? Political strategist? Dutiful Princess?

“And fast approaching royally pissed off,” she growled, glancing down at his offending hand then back up.

“If you will not tell me,” he began again, and this time Miho interjected.

“I will not tell you,” she smirked, lifting her free hand toward his cheek, touching it lightly. “But by all means, do whatever you like to try and get it out of me.”

As Antares’ fingers enclosed her wrist, there was a sudden burst of sound from the intercom.

“Commodore!” Corvus barked. “The Princess’ ship has broken from our docking clamps and blasted beyond the range of our tractor beam.”

Antares’ grip on Miho tightened, but her expression had slipped back into stoicism.

“Your people will be off-loaded in due course,” she explained, unconcerned as Antares backed her up against the wall. “Unharmed, if a little embarrassed.”

“They abandoned you,” he hissed, aside from his grip the first real sign of irritation. “Why?”

“They have their orders,” Miho replied, not flinching when Antares planted one leg between hers.

“To what end?” he persisted.

“Let me ask you a question, Commodore,” she countered, testing the strength of his hold on her arms ever so slightly. “Why did you decide not to tell the Emperor you screwed his precious, innocent daughter after plotting your revenge so long?”

“Innocent,” he exhaled, his lips brushing hers as he enunciated the word, “is something you are most certainly not.”

“You’d know,” she smirked, bumping forward just enough to bring their lips together more solidly.

“Commodore Fairchild?” Corvus’ voice came again, and Antares released Miho to slam one palm against the intercom on the wall beside Miho’s head.

“Let them go,” he ordered briskly, never allowing his narrowed eyes to stray from Miho’s. “The Princess is safe, and that is all that matters.”

“Oh the chivalry,” Miho taunted, rotating one of the buttons on Antares’ uniform. “Aren’t you just my hero?”

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