At Spin Two Swords
Script, Docking at Midgard
The ships surround the burnt-out husk of the floating academy of Midgard: ten of them, not counting an assortment of shuttles as well as the Consul barge of Hugo Stellarm himself. Most of them are disguised to look like pedestrian freighters. Nobody would guess, simply by looking at them that they were ferrying around Sword World nobility, but the disguise is paper thin. An out of the way place like Midgard, uninhabitable for more than a decade because of a toxic meltdown, with ten ships circling it, all tethered to Stellarm’s barge in a system on the brink of civil war; what approaching patrol boat wouldn’t suspect the meeting that is about to happen? And you are, of course, the most conspicuous. You aren’t even a sword worlder. More than any of them, you do not belong here.
The jump to Enos was only 2 parsecs, but it was long enough for you to be in warp space when the assassination happened. You didn’t hear about ‘s death until you were already in world. By then, he’d been in the ground for 9 days. It was news on Enos. Back in Casperous, you knew that it was quickly becoming history. The decision to turn Imperial would have, most likely, already have been made by the surviving powers who had only barely been kept in check by Old Waerd. Soon Fleet would arrive to restore the order and to keep the brewing civil war in check. The Loyalist nobles would have to learn how to hold their tongues else find themselves branded traitors to the Imperium.
..and you? Your career had seemed, on Enos, to have died with Islan. What else could his death have meant? You’d spend the better part of 2 years ingratiating yourself with the Sword Worlders through Waerd, and the best you’d come up with was your alliance with the Thane himself. Outside of Waerd’s, you hadn’t managed to ingratiate yourself with any of the other noble houses. You were and are Auslander: foreigners.
That was the worst of it. Spun out on the Spinward Marches: it was the beginning of every story of spacer disaster. Not enough money to pay the fuel bill for a hop to the main, and not enough leads to get any money. Stranded on Enos and waiting for the inevitable. Not even near a reputable sector.
You thought about delivering the old table Waerd had sent you to give to the Welt Jarl in payment for Enos mercs, but what could it have still mattered? You’d need a hundred old rosewood tables, all with deep historical significance, to get the Jarl to send troops against fellow Sword Worlders and the Imperium, not to mention corporate mercs and a megacorporation.
No. You’d figured your best bet was to take advantage of the tourist trade. Imperial debutatantes and biddies out for a look at the quaint Sword Worlder’s furs and cookoo clocks. It wouldn’t be glamorous but it would pay the bills as soon as they arrived, but who knows how long it would be until then. The Sword Worlders have a phrase: “wie als die Werm.” Literally it means: so goes the worm. It’s not clear if the worm’s early or turning on a hook. Either way, same thing. Bad luck comes from bad luck.
It took the message too long to get to you and required immediate action. It came from Hordven Clos, Waerd’s consul and one of the few men in Casperous who understood your role in Waerd’s business affairs. It was brief: your presence was requested off of the old Midgard academy at a meeting of Loyalist nobles to determine a course of action in the face of Imperial intervention. You are to advise. You are some of the few Auslanders, according to Hordven, whom these Sword Worlders trust… at least as advisors.
Clos mentioned pay. Enough to pay for the jump to Casperous and half your mortgage for the month to boot… all just for showing up. So long as no one sees you, so long as no one associates you with some kind of anti-Imperialist rebellion, it’s good money. What’s more, it was some of the only money available on Enos. It seemed like a lot of money to listen to a bunch of nobles fight. Plus, it meant that Clos still had control of someone’s purse string. There was something particularly comforting in that thought, something good for you, even if Clos’s money will come with political complications. They probably wouldn’t even ask you to speak: you still being Auslanders and all.
When you arrived in system, there wasn’t anything you didn’t expect. The sky was crowded. That was a way to put it, and not just with Sword Worlders. Seemed you weren’t the only people who suddenly had business to conduct with the descendants of Gram. By that point, Waerd was more than 16 days dead. Impulse engines brought you to Midgard in 4 days. You were spotted many times, but not by anyone who’d care, more or less, to see you. No one who knew you in that other life, saw you. Even subsector fleet passed you by with a simple check of your departure world, and then through the cold of space where no one goes. Old Midgard where they used to train psions. Radioactive as a crater and filled with ghosts.
You arrived just in time to watch the first ships tethering. No suprises. At least not until you’d tethered yourself, and then in from spinward, a Jotunn Class Warship accompanied by 10 Sleitner class fighters. News travels slow when it has to make the jump: Korvettenkapiten Thand Olecsthane had been a war hero for three days longer than Old Waerd had been dead, and you’re just hearing about it now. A major victory over the Azure Dawn mercenary crew insured the safety of some moon nobody’d ever heard of down in District 268 where the Azure Dawn people, in Telvin Phi’s payroll, had been trying to set up as an offensive base. Thand, and company, had assaulted the base and routed the mercs. It was a major victory for the anti-Imperialist Casperians and, what Waerd often called ‘the hillbilly fleet,’ even if the Sword Worlder cause was dashed entirely two days later by an assassin and a bit of bad beef.
Whatever chance these people had of keeping up appearances if a patrol boat rolled by was absolutely dashed by the presence of the warship, as were yours, to be frank. Instantaneously, it became a hell of a risk to be tethered to these, so called Loyalists, but Clos wasn’t paying you to dock. His credits were only good if you went in. How long could this meeting last anyways? Hopefully, Olecsthane was smart enough to be running with jammers on. Even if he was, technically, colony fleet now, it didn’t mean that Subsector Command was going to let him float around in 2000 ton warship without keeping track of his whereabouts.