The Plothole

CatB 10 sees Clear with Eos in a security booth where they are watching live footage from a promenade of Scimitar Building. They could see Lomond Manse speaking to Sayo of the Crystal Bounty Hunters and see him hand over a datapad, selling Clear out to the hunters - exactly as they asked Lomond to do. The data included planted information on Clear's whereabouts, placing her either at Newcomb or at Syrtis. She expected that Brandiff Alexander Kerwin III would be the hunter to go to Newcomb, where Clear planned to be so she could confront him. Due to the danger levels of Syrtis, she hoped that the more militaristic members of the group, such as Altus Grant, would go there. As they watch, Eos tries to offer Clear suggestions on hobbies she could try, which makes Clear regret ever asking her for advice in the first place. Eos does think this plan is sound, hoping that Clear could remove Kerwin from the task force as a starting point. However, Manse seems to be trying to get their attention on the footage, prompting them to observe the unexpected arrival of stormtroopers from the Primary Order, headed by Millicent Tarq, the Ambassador for the Primary Order. The start to bully Manse, seeing him as a failure of the Galactic Empire. Though Eos wants Clear to help deal with Tarq, technically being the Ambassador for Mars, Clear refuses as she has too many problems of her own to deal with and sets out for Newcomb. When she reached her ship, Hoopa, she found a message from the Æon Knight that had arrived in CatB Post 9, named Dark Lancer, who requested to talk. She responded by telling him to fuq off.


The Manipulation

Clear and Eos are stood either side of a very uncomfortable-looking human, who is seated before the video screens relaying live footage from one of Scimitar Building’s promenades. Sat outside a café, as though enjoying a quiet afternoon, they can see the rogue Lomond Manse. He is smiling and joking around with the man opposite him – the bounty hunter Sayo. Likewise, Sayo seems to be in high spirits but rather than confidently joking around, he was smirking sardonically through the encounter. Sayo was obviously very full of himself, Clear mused. He was already trying to think up some method of using that overconfidence to her advance.

Eos: “What about polo?”

Clear turned her head to glare at Eos as though she had grown several new heads.

Clear:Polo? Do I look like someone who would play polo!?”

Eos: “That is my point, Clear. I think a hobby outside of your… wheelhouse is what you need. Something you have never tried before. Something you usually would never even think of trying. It would do you good.”

Clear: “Even if I were to try something so bloody weird as polo, I notice there’s a distinct lack of polo players on Mars.”

Eos rose a fuzzy eyebrow.

Eos: “Not really. There are a lot of rich humans that come here for weekend getaways. Mostly rich businessmen.”

Clear: “Maybe I should have said, a distinct lack of polo players that would play with me.”

Eos nodded conceding the point. A lot of such businessmen tended not to mix with aliens. Eos herself often had difficulties dealing with such people, despite being chief of security. They were always surprised to find a bat-like alien in charge of the staff instead of a ‘proper’ human.

Eos: “What about knitting?”

Clear: “Now you’re making fun of me.”

Eos: “Knitting could be a very creative outlet. I have known people to sit for hours doing it with intense focus.”

Clear: “I’m beginning to regret asking you for advice.”

On the screen they noticed Manse lean over and offer Sayo a datapad. There was an obvious exchange of credits shortly after. Clear sighed.

Clear: “And there is it. The deal’s done. Manse sold me out.”

Eos: “He did exactly as expected. Honestly, I’m a little surprised.”

Clear: “You thought he’d double-cross me? I think he would have, expect he knows we’re watching him. Cheeky bugger.”

Eos: “Let’s see if your hunters will take the bait…”

Sayo, eventually, rose and tipped his hat at Manse before he sauntered off, strutting so broadly it was almost comical. Manse waited there for a long while before he turned back to his drink, lifted it and then aimed it at the camera in cheers.

Eos: “Will go you in advance to the site? Which one was it?”

Clear:Newcomb. If they do split up, I think that’s where the easier targets will go.”

Eos: “You’re hoping for the antiques dealer, I believe?”

Clear: “Calls himself Alex, yeah. The heavy brutes should go for the other target. The weapons facility in Syrtis. Lots of functional defence droids still operational, so they’d need guns. Lots of guns.”

Eos: “If the information hadn’t come from Mr Manse, they probably would have dismissed it as unreliable information. You would need to be crazy to hide there.”

Clear: “Though they might think I’m scared enough to attempt it. Either way, if Grant and Sayo go that way, hopefully Alex Kerwin will go to Newcomb.”

Eos: “And if he isn’t alone?”

Clear: “We’ll see. Nothing else I can do. If I can talk to him, he might just back down. It’s the only real plan I have right now.”

Eos: “For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s a bad plan. If Mr Kerwin does cause a problem, the rest of them would need to cross the whole of Sabaea to reach him.”

Clear grinned.

Clear: “I am a tactical genius.”

Eos: “I wouldn’t go that far.”

Clear: “Don’t ruin it!”

Eos: “Perhaps I could send a couple of patrol officers to Newcomb just—”

Clear: “He’ll detect them easily and then the jig is up. I wish I could take some big, burly soldiers with me, but Kerwin has shown he’s pretty good with his surveying tech. Besides, I’m not too bad at punching people, you know?”

Eos: “Yes, I know. I have seen the reports. The many, many reports.”

Clear: “And they all had it coming! Probably. Maybe sometimes.”

Officer: “Ma’am? Lomond Manse is trying to get our attention.”

The human officer drew the attention of the two alien women and they looked down at the screen. Manse was making exaggerated head gestures. Clear guessed they had probably started subtle, but since he hadn’t got any response from them, his gestures became more pronounced.

Clear: “What’s he gesturing to? Can you swing the camera?”

Officer: “The cameras are stationary, but I can switch to another.”

Eos: “They pay to have an entire space elevator built on an alien world, and then give us cheap, decades old camera technology…”

The second screen flicked over to another shot of the promenade and they were greeted with a surprising sight, something Clear had not seen in person for a long time.


Eos: “I wasn’t notified of their arrival…”

Clear: “Well, it’s nothing to do with me, so I’ll leave you to this one, Batgirl.”

Clear caught the human smirk at the nickname for his boss.

Eos: “Why is Mr Manse so worried?”

Clear: “Oh. Because he’s former imperial, isn’t he? And those guys, they’re Primary Order. If they spot him—”

Officer: “I think they have.”

Clear: “You might need to get some officers in there to protect our spy or he’s going to get his ass spanked.”

Eos tutted, as though children were misbehaving. Even as Eos started speaking into a communicator, Clear leaned over to get a better look at the group of Primary Order cronies. Most were stormtroopers, but she did notice that there were three officers and one of them she recognised from her days as ambassador on the Cosmic Nullius.

Clear: “That is Millicent Tarq. She’s ambassador for the Primary Order.”

Eos: “Why would someone like that be here?”

Clear: “Absolutely no idea.”

Clear stretched languidly and wore a lazy, self-centred smile as she looked at Eos.

Clear: “I am so glad this is not my problem. Good luck with that.”

Eos: “If you weren’t going off to Newcomb, I’d press you into service. I think you could technically still be the Martian ambassador. I don’t think anyone else has been appointed.”

Clear: “I’d rather chug battery acid.”

Eos: “First a Jedi Knight arrives, now an ambassador for the Order. What is going on on my watch?”

Clear: “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one the universe seems to hate.”

On the screen the stormtroopers had already started to bully Manse and the incredibly beautiful Millicent Tarq was smiling with contempt in his direction, but stood afar. Clear knew she would regard Manse as a failure, one of those responsible for the fall of the Empire – just as Manse blamed Polk. Everyone liked to blame everyone else, but nobody ever took any responsibility.

Clear: “I have an antiques dealer to catch. I hope you fix whatever this is before I get back. Good luck!”

Clear did offer Eos an apologetic smile and then she left. She wasn’t going to stay any longer than she needed to and be wrapped up in whatever chaos was brewing. She had to admit, she was bursting with curiosity, but she was just as resolute on keeping to herself. She had her own problems, of the bounty hunting kind, without playing politics again. Clear had never met Tarq directly, but watched the woman and knew she was someone used to getting her way. She would not be on Mars unless there was something worth her time to be found here.

Once Clear was out of the building, she did notice that there were even more stormtroopers around. She was very surprised by that. It was rare for the Primary Order to venture far across the galaxy since the fall of the Empire, mostly sticking to their little section on the outer rim, alongside the remnants of the High Empire. To see stormtroopers again was bad enough, without seeing so many of them looking armed and dangerous. There didn’t seem to be enough of them to attempt another invasion of Earth, and there was no way they would conquer a worthless rock like Mars, so their presence was a total mystery to Clear. She was sure, however, it had nothing to do with her. For a change.

She found where she had hidden Hoopa and clambered inside it. As she powered it up, she noticed a signal light up. She’d never seen it do that before, so after a few button presses she discovered it was a message on a private channel. A channel only accessible from other Æon Starfighters. The Dark Lancer wanted to talk.

Clear tapped the armrest as she thought about this. She came to the conclusion he probably thought she was an Æon Knight. She worried that he might even recognise the ship itself and start a whole lot of questions about the ship’s original owner, questions she really didn’t want to have to answer. Eventually, she settled on the perfect response and typed it in.

Fuq off.