Vermin moved hastily in the streets. Sheer will urged them forward to complete their tasks before sunrise. Towers of sector T-005 watched silently as neighboring ships arrived upon their soil and intruded upon their confines.
As dawn approached, masters and servants would gather to feast and fight over resources and policies like they had every year. They would spoil themselves at the cost of others and disturb the peace because they felt like it. Vermin outside the walls, vermin inside the walls, Izoa was in no mood for any of it.
She had risen long before the lower-class servants and seen the dome’s shield reactivate as their honored guests arrived by the central tower of master Deveros where they would conduct their business between the two sectors.
While the entourage members of both masters gathered to greet each other for formalities’ sake, Izoa had her duties to attend. Her first task was to gather a team of officers from the disciplinary division and station them at the tower, aware of how quickly both entourages could spiral out of control.
Upon entering the administration level of the division’s tower, Izoa came upon the female officer, Arg. There seemed to be a misunderstanding of what decency entailed. What Izoa gazed upon was unsightly at best.
While her fellow officers had long retired to their quarters, officer Arg had concluded her post was the best bed she could hope for and utilized it in a very creative manner. The officer was still wearing her uniform thankfully. Izoa decided against waking her, deciding the head officer should be the one to ensure Arg would not fall asleep in a place where high ranking officials could find her.
With a flick of her hand Izoa brought the transparent grey screens before her and corrected the number of employees who had not checked into their quarters. Arg was not missing as the central officials thought, only dimwitted. With all personnel accounted for, she proceeded to her station at the administration, taking her seat.
While officer Arg was lightly snoring, she checked in on the officers’ stats. Most of them had slept well despite high tensions amongst their ranks on the morning of the annual event. Only the head officer, Av’Rha had slept quite poorly but the man was frankly overworked thanks to delinquents such as his second in command straddling her seat with one leg hanging over the armrest whilst another placed upon the desk in front of her, resting her foot comfortably on her equipment. The wild locks of white hair covered the back of her seat. Izoa hoped Arg had deactivated her gun which were amongst one of many things her leg rested on.
Annoyed by her presence, Izoa tapped her seat twice and headed to the administration hub above. Even if her task there was brief, it would be an appreciated break from the halfling. Dim blue lights greeted her along with the patrol reports of the night guard. The timer showed the deadline was approaching, though by reviewing them there was nothing to be concerned of. Only the mirror reports revealed the disdain Tarreans of their sector had voiced against the visitors. Primarily the civilian ones feared what entourage members of sector master Taheros might do if they were granted access to their camp.
She archived the mirror reports, satisfied with her findings, even Arg’s report was nothing but perfect which did redeem her a tad although it was a reluctant acknowledgement from Izoa’s side.
With no further business in the hub, Izoa resigned herself to listening to Arg’s incessant snoring on the administration level until head officer Av’Rha reported in for duty.
When he entered, it only took him a moment to grasp the gist of her situation. He bowed his head curtly, folding his arms behind his back as a display of respect, before he proceeded to Arg’s seat. An amused expression spread across Izoa’s face as he picked Arg up by the waist and proceeded to throw her head first out the tower.
“You have my gratitude head officer; the snoring was driving me insane” loud groans below the tower let them know Arg’s head had taken the brunt of the fall. Av’Rha resumed to stand at the entrance and folded his arms behind his back again before he spoke.
“I’m at your service Compan Izoa, it was my pleasure” the honesty of his words amused her even more. It would seem head officer Av’Rha was used to punishing his second in command due to similar cases. Izoa would not dig into the details of prior cases, all she required was reassurance the officer would not pose a problem.
“Will she be able to serve in the private sector this evening?” Izoa crossed her legs and locked eyes with him, demanding an honest reply. Judging by the footsteps at the stairway, the officer was certainly physically equipped for such a task, not that it was a surprise. The Wargos halflings were impressively hard to injure.
“Yes, she’s only unprofessional asleep” Av’Rha reassured as Arg reappeared at his side. When she realized there was someone else but her superior she presented herself in the same manner as him, bowing her head and holding it lowered to Izoa.
“She certainly doesn’t seem to lack confidence. I will see you outside of central command this evening, dismissed” Izoa brought up her private screen from the device on the back of her left hand, the blank metallic surface greeted her with the template she needed. Noting down their service numbers, two of eight guards had been assigned. Av’Rha and Arg proceeded to take their posts whilst Izoa got out of hers and headed out.
Her next order of business was to visit the Tarrean camp, considering the reports she had read, their leaders would have to be put at ease. The walk from the black tower to the high walls of the camp was long, but the freezing air provided Izoa with a clear and sharp mind.
Tall buildings stretched to the sky, housing hundreds of souls within their solid walls. The streets were rough to the touch, merciless to soft bone and flesh. Izoa noted the crack outside the tower where Arg had landed before her eyes traced the blue lines in the stones. Everything except the central tower was grey and black, the essential colors of Aragos.
Her walk took her past housing areas, the common markets amongst the Plutoni who were opening their stands and bringing fresh food to sell, and brought her through Tarrean monitored streets and guard posts.
The sun was rising at the top of their sector’s walls once Izoa reached her destination. The main gates of the Tarrean camp made the walls seem daunting to trespassers, but it was only familiar faces greeting her there. Tarrean officers greeted her and signaled for their colleagues at the top to let her in. Unlike her fellow halflings at the tower, Tarreans were less formal.
The gates began to part themselves with a heavy rumbling. Sector master Deveros had reinforced their gates once more it would seem. Izoa began to think their worries were unwarranted. There could be no entourage member capable of leaping over the wall nor breaking it down by sheer force.
Once the opening was sufficient, Izoa entered the camp and headed into their village. Unlike the Plutoni housing, the Tarreans lived like their ancestors would’ve. The camp had been reconstructed after the completion of the sector, modelled after the lost civilization.
While Izoa didn’t comprehend or share master Deveros’ enthusiasm about the specie, she couldn’t deny the aesthetics were appealing. Tarreans lived in families, ranging from three to ten under the same roof. Their homes were not built in stone or metal but tree. They colored them differently and utilized their designated areas to grow plants and other things to decorate their surroundings. They were an odd race.
Nonetheless, their continued cooperation and service to the Aragonians benefitted everyone and lessened the burden and responsibilities of halflings. One of their youngest leaders was quite influential over the rest of the Tarrean people and respected even by the likes of Av’Rha. If he agreed to Izoa’s terms, the Tarrean camp would be off limits during the stay of their guests.
Tarrean children roamed the camp freely but remained under careful watch of their mothers. Others were performing their crafts of building tools, weapons or working in storage areas where they kept their harvests. On her way to the home of the Turroz family, Izoa took note of a house which had been burned to the ground. Finally, there was a sign of something awry that called for their skepticism.
She could feel the attentive gazes of Tarreans as she approached the residence. Before Izoa could knock however as custom dictated the entrance door was flung upon by the sister of the leader, Nia Turroz. There seemed to be something troubling her based on the expression of pure fury. Izoa couldn’t care less until she reached her brother, Echo. She turned a deaf ear to the words spilling out of the Tarrean woman’s mouth.
“May I speak to your brother?” Izoa asked impatiently, tilting her head slightly as she glanced down at Nia. Her hands were clutched into fists, shaking vigorously as eyes black as night bore into Izoa’s. Her brother limped to the door to greet the Compan, and gave Nia only a stern look which evoked regret and finally submission.
“What can I do for you Izoa?” his demeanor lacked friendliness but didn’t border on impoliteness. The Tarrean officer was in no shape for service much less the duty Izoa intended to give him in exchange for the protection of his people.
“Does your injuries stem from the burned home I passed on my way here?” Izoa hoped there would be a connection. She could use the misconduct of other officers to grant protection if presented properly to the master.
“I wasn’t inside the house but I was trying to reason with-” before he could finish his sentence, Nia grabbed his arm and squeezed hard. Echo exhaled sharply and Izoa’s impatience grew.
“If you can name the culprit I’ll see to the protection of this camp until Taheros and his pack of miscreants leave. They have only just arrived but as you know we often get some troublesome cases this time of year” at this, Nia softened her grip. They exchanged a look of dread.
“I don’t know how he got here before his master but he did. Orma” it was Izoa’s turn to feel the same wrath Nia had boldly displayed. The burned house felt more as a personal taunt than a mere act of disdain for the Tarreans.
“Reinstate the curfew over the camp, I’ll make the necessary arrangements” her attempt at a smile failed miserably as she turned away from the Turroz’ home. With that piece of information, Izoa had no longer any use for Tarrean guards at the central. Av’Rha would have to assemble a team purely of halflings from his division.
The main gates were ordered to open before she could approach them, and the morning patrol entered to inspect the camp. At the lead was officer Arg who stopped dead in her tracks.
“Leave one of yours at the gate for the rest of the day, only officers enter and exit” Izoa issued the order as she passed the officer, the rest of her duties would have to be postponed now. There was a serpent in their garden.