Pariahs and Peacemakers

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Five

The Pariah slithered through the spires and glass behemoths of Engevaal’s skyline, basked in the glow of the dawn’s amber sun and the slowly dissipating neon from the previous night. As The Keep came into view, the crew found themselves flanked by three fast attack fighters which circled like vultures. The Keep was a huge pyramid-like structure, black and smooth like marble or jet with light blue scrollwork etched across it’s surface. Humanity compared it to the Pyramids of ancient Egypt but that did nothing to convey it’s scale or beauty. Shayara wasn’t alarmed by the fighter jets but she knew they wouldn’t hesitate about shooting them out of the sky if protocol wasn’t followed to the letter. It was understandable as The Keep was a self-contained city within a city and home to the bulk of the most important figures in the galaxy. A few extra rules and munitions made sense to protect those inside.

“This is Senate conscript Shayara Ventii of the Pariah to Keep Port Guardian. We have a priority one individual aboard and have a meeting scheduled with the High Senate,” she informed cooly. A long pause ensued as her credentials were no doubt being cross referenced and confirmed. “Affirmative, Pariah, welcome home. Follow docking route two to docking station nine. A Senate representative will be on deck to greet your boarding party.” The communication channel closed and allowed the Pariah to take a wide sweeping arch over the onyx coloured triangle to enter a hangar on its blind side. Just as the Port Guardian had said, a precession of armed enforcers led by what looked like a Caliterrian dignitary were already in place.

Docking clamps fastened the Pariah securely to the ground and the crew departed the ship. Cesh had refused a hover chair and opted to carry her own weight on holo-crutches. The injury was shaming enough as Sarcurian warrior circles believed injuries, especially those obtained through falling prey to an ambush, brought huge shame due to the fact they came from mistakes that highlighted the flaws of the victim. She could take heart in the fact her ego could begin the recovery process by not allowing the injury to hinder her further. Shayara met the outstretched hand of the Caliterrian which showed that he had taken the time to observe Human pleasantries. “I will be your escort to the assembly area but I’m afraid the Luminary must be processed separately by Senate Security, I hope you understand.” Shayara looked toward Cesh but the Sarcurian had already been led away. Shayara, James and Jarner were ushered along to the other side of the spacious hangar with ease. At the far end of the cavernous spaceport an automated skycar depot awaited them providing convenient connection to the other sections of The Keep’s interior.

The Keep seemed extremely large from the outside but one could not truly appreciate the scale until one witnessed its contents. It had everything from housing, trade floors, office blocks, financial districts and of course the main Senate Congress hall. “Last population count of permanent residents reached a new high of roughly four million and it grows steadily each day. The biggest influx recently has been from your race Human as more of you fall in love with the luxury and security that we can provide here,” informed the Caliterrian who took it upon himself to assume the role of tour guide.

“Is there a bar where we are going?” interrupted James much to the Caliterrian’s surprise.

“Refreshments are available, yes, although I’d advise against the use of alcohol before meeting the Senate,” responded the dignitary with a look of confusion and annoyance at the Human’s bizarre priorities and the fact his spiel had been snubbed.

The transport ascended higher up to The Keep’s tip, the architecture started to instil a sense of not-so-humble pride at the power held by those who walked the walkways of the highest levels. The skycar touched down and the first notable difference that hit Shayara was how subdued it was high up, away from the chaotic hustle and bustle of the lower, much more densely populated, levels. The Caliterrian, who had yet to introduce himself formally, led them forward across the platform. The bridge beyond curiously had no guardrail and was held in place by reverse gravity generators. The large archway at the end was architecturally as imposing as Brandenburg Gate back on Earth and beyond that lay the assembly area. It had a very high class feel with yet more fantastic alien aesthetics and indeed a large bar area. “You can wait here, I’ll return when they’re ready for you.” With that the Caliterrian with no name ventured onward past the security checkpoint on the opposite side to the way they came in. “This place is locked down tighter than your knickers, boss,” grinned Jarner. Shayara didn’t look amused.

“Looks like we’ll be here a while, you two want anything?” said James, gesturing with wallet in hand eager to get away. He shirked off the head shakes and plonked himself on a stool where an attractive Sarcurian female was serving up a violet coloured beverage to an important looking Caliterrian patron. “I’ll have what he’s having when you’ve got a moment, darling,” James interjected as she passed by. The alien chuckled as he downed his drink in one. “Something I said?” James shrugged confused.

“It’s Tecosic. It’d boil your insides rather quickly. Reacts with your stomach acid if I’m not mistaken.” He smiled.

“On second thought, what whiskey do you have?”


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