Treading on... thick ice?
_Aphoxema had done some stupid things in her life, but few could compare to her latest stunt. Her last meeting with Rodj Blake and Siobhan ran her into a ceremonial robe that had been hanging in the vestry of the chapel.
Her disguise appeared foolish, at the least... but either by fate, fortune, or the likelyhood that the CVA didn't actually care, she waded through the PIE Inc. forums with ease.
It wasn't long before she discovered her efforts were mostly in vain, as she still didn't have access to anything actually confidential. She still liked the robe and decided to wear it for a while, though the fact that it was hanging freely might have involved the smell the last wearer had managed to inflict on it._
I love you, Aphox. Seriously
The old man sat in the chapel in quiet meditation. He'd had an interesting week during which he'd lost three ships and his first clone had been activated.
Although his joints no longer ached, he was torn between mourning the loss of his former self and thanking the Lord for granting him another chance to cleanse the infidels.
Suddenly a passing figure caught his attention. From the way in which the person walked they were obviously female underneath the large robe. The hesitant stride betrayed the fact that they young acolyte was either new to the chapel or was in a place that she shouldn't have been.
Regardie softly cleared his throat to draw attention to himself and closed his copy of the scriptures he'd been studying. As the old man looked over at the figure he thought that for a brief moment he caught a glimpse of silvery hair beneath the hood.
"That's unusual," Regardie thought aloud as he got up from his bench, silently thanking the Lord for removing his aches and pains.
"You there!" he called out. "Is there something that I can help you with?"
The old man left the question hanging in the air between them, part challenge and part invitation.
Aphoxema stood still, her head already overheating from the heavy cloth and her sudden need for processing threatening to catch her thoughts on fire. She reached up and pulled the hood lower and turned slowly, deepening her voice in an attempt to sound more masculine with little success.
"Oh... yes! I... uhhh... I'm lost... I'm looking for my... study.. partner? If you could just point me towards the... vestry?"
Aphoxema could have shot herself if she wasn't worried about someone doing it for her now, feeling her particle blaster underneath her robes. She had a minor reassurance that she had it, but she had the greater hopes that she didn't need it. She watched back at the man's firm but confused expression, waiting for his response...
"Fear not, my child," the old man softened his tone as he heard the young acolyte's confused response. He smiled reassuringly, although inwardly his mind was racing.
Alarm bells were ringing in his head, warning him to something serious might be amiss. For a moment his smile slipped and was replaced by a worried frown. He quickly regained his composure and smiled benignly.
"Ah it's the Vestry you're after, child." Regardie quickly formulated a plan and raised his hand slowly to show the way. "Take that corridor there, when you reach the second junction follow the silver line along the wall."
The old man reviewed in his head the directions he'd just given to the Inquisition offices. He considered calling one of the marine guards to escort her, but decided instead to let her make the next move.
"If you cannot find your partner there," Regardie explained helpfully. "Then I would recommend that you ask for Gaius, he is great scholar whom I'm sure would be willing to help you in your studies. Now hurry along, child. The Lord's work should be carried out with joy and alacrity, if you tarry here too long the guards will escort you to your supervisor for dereliction of religious duties."
Despite the old man's kind smile and calm demeanour, his fanatical zeal managed to shine through. He pointed towards the corridor again and waited quietly for her to depart.
Aphoxema breathed relief and headed in the direction the man had told her to go without a word. She didn't look back but followed his directions, finding the silver line, sticking to them if he had happened to follow some distance.
Looking along the walls she saw plaques imbedded with Amarri glyphs, a language she didn't even come near to reading. She was here searching for any information that might be useful to her cause, but she was starting to reason that it would be wise to learn to read Amarri if she were to actually learn anything useful. Her speaking it however well she did was from a knowledge injection some weeks prior, but she never opted for anything beyond spoken conversation.
She stepped into a room she didn't think was 'The Vestry'. She had no clue what 'A Vestry' was, it was only a referance she heard made by other Amarr.. but the results of the reference didn't come anywhere close to a tall, dark room with sentries armed with laser rifles on either side of the door she just stumbled through.
"May I help you?" came the words of a man who never seemed to smile from a desk across the room.
Aphoxema held back her impulsive smile she bore when she needed to be on top, "I'm looking for the... uh.. vestry?"
He stared at her a moment, she could almost see the glint of her war tattoo reflecting from his eyes, "Will you remove your hood for me, acolyte?"
It didn't sound like a request, and she was pretty sure she couldn't turn around, withdraw her particle blaster from its clumsy position, and take out two guards pointing laser rifles at her. Even if she did, there was no way she would get out.
She smiled and reached up slowly, lowering her hood, exposing her Matari descendance in all it's unwanted glory. She didn't need a mirror to know her nanotattoo was fully blazing at this point, she'd seen it flare up in embarassment from people pointing out her shoes were on the wrong feet.
She had a feeling her persuasive smile wouldn't get her out of this one...
Aphoxema stood, embaressed, wishing that SOMEONE might come and somehow get here out of trouble, or at least into a lesser trouble...
ahem Is there a problem here?
Aphoxema looked up at Graelyn as he entered the room, recognizing him as of the podpilots on Galnet. She got a crazy idea, which was reinforced with the fact she'd spent four seconds thinking of it.
"No, no problem at all... master?"
Aphoxema quickly smiled at Graelyn convincingly in hopes he'd take the hint and was gullible enough to play along.
The Guard seemed to ease a bit. Graelyn was known for letting his slaves walk about, as they were usually well-behaved enough. Something was still not right...
"I'll take it from here, Sergeant. You're excused."
The Sergeant looked around for a moment. Excused to where? "Sir, this is my post..."
Graelyn's temper flared, but he allowed a moment for it to cool. In this place, his rank and position made him only a friend, nothing more.
He looked about to make sure the equipment was in order. "Alright, but damage gets billed to Aeternus, Admiral." Graelyn watched him leave, and shot Aphoxema a look when he saw her wave goodbye to him.
"Sit the hell down", he growled as he took the seat the guard had vacated. The room was very quiet for a moment, as Graelyn tossed his feet up onto the table and took out a cigarette.
"I've already taken one of you as you wandered from the safety of your pods." he said, fumbling for a lighter. "Care to tell me why you've risked the same fate?"
He lit the end and tossed the pack and lighter across the table.
Aphoxema smiled nervously and took an interrogation seat across from the desk. She surveyed the room a moment as she formulated her answer, seeming to miss the hint Graelyn provided setting the cigarettes on the desk. She brought her hands together to make it look like she was feeling displaced... and though she was, she was also moving to lift the side of the robe a moment to make removal of her blaster possible, though still unreasonable.
"Well, uh... see? In all 'onesty, I was just curious is'all.."
Aphoxema looked up and saw Graelyn about to respond, but took a crack at guessing his next question, "And, I know what you're gon'na say... I'm pretty stupid for runnin' around your place like this just fer' bein' curious, yeah... but, see? I... guess it's a pretty stupid thing to do? Huh?"
She quieted down a moment, and before Graelyn could sieze the conversation, a flush ran over her and she ran on.. "And, really? Who are you to like, go aroun' and try to make me feel bad, yeah?! I mean... I'll I'm tryin' to do is make it by and like, all you's guys gotta go an' make me feel bad for'it! I can't get nothin' done! It's rediculous!"
Graelyn's irritation was getting obvious and his expression alone was growing fatal when Aphoxema stood up and kept up with her one sided arguement in a wind, "And now I'm all coming down here.. tryin' to find that 'intel' stuff and see this real' pretty place too, and you guys gotta go messin' with my head!"
Aphoxema pointed accusingly, "And don't you think 'bout takin' me as no slave or nothin'! I'll die faster than'at cause of our.. uh.. freespace ideal and that shibam! And..."
Aphoxema was interrupted by a look as Graelyn finished a drag and withdrew the cigarette from his mouth, speaking through a strangehold on patience like gritted teeth, "Sit down."
Aphoxema fell back down on the chair with a 'thwomp' and looked up fearfully, deciding being 'the big one' wasn't really going to help right now.
Graelyn took another drag, finally able to respond with some grace...
"Curious, you say?"
He leaned back. "So you've come to a Chapel. It's a start I suppose, so much of our culture originates from our beliefs." He extinguished the embers on the Sergeant's desk before leaning forward.
"But what do you seek here? I seriously doubt you've come seeking enlightenment, especially given the rather....singular way our people would have it bestowed upon yours...."
He leaned back. "Oh, and you may want to ditch that pistol. It can't lead to anything good, that..."
Majaraw Awalabas watched a man approach he knew should not be there, behind him more men walked in step.
"Sergeant! Why are you and your men here? You should be at your posts!"
The startled sergeant wrinkled his forehead as he shrugged his shoulders. "Admiral Graelyn told me to leave him and his female Matari slave alone"
Majaraw stared back at the bewildered sergeant. His stare became even harder and his jaw strut forward as he found his fury start to rise. "He did WHAT! I knew things are not as civilized here in Amarr as in Ardishapur but I trust you still don't allow fornication within holy grounds! This does not do Sergeant, return to your position and if the Admiral has removed so much as a single piece of clothing from himself or his slave I will personally drag him before a Religious Tribunal and see him stripped of his command. He better have a perfectly logical explanation for ordering you to leave or his soul will burn."
Majaraw stood there as he watched the sergeant turn back, obviously bewildered at being sent back from where he had just been sent.
He didn't like it how things were more carefree in Amarr, instead of 20 lashes meeted out for disobedience they favored 5 or in fact, even none at all. They even allowed the Ammatars access to chapels, absolutely unheard of back home.
He drew out his notebook, the cover black and on it glowed faintly the insigna of CVA Fleet Intelligence. He made a note of the incident and headed back to pray some more for the misguided brethrens who were growing weak. He would visit the sergeant and his men later.
Aphoxema had a moment to talk before the guard would make his way back. She sighed in annoyance and stood a moment, fumbling with her robes and liberating the particle blaster from its clumsy position and setting it on the desk gently, as if it wouldn't survive the drop of an inch.
Aphoxema sat back down, watching Graelyn a moment while he looked back, apparently letting her a moment to conduct herself, "I'uh.. I'm lookin' for anythin' that might be useful and all to Star Fraction or me. See, uh? I've been trying to look like, real 'portant to everyone, and I was hoping if I could come back with something useful, every'on'ed like me and stuff more..."
Aphoxema realized the smell from the robe was becoming exponented by the heat she was generating, sitting still so nervous. She sighed and stood up enough to pull the robes from over herself. Her thin, Matari frame and her sharp, bony hips saw little insulation from the world, even through her podsuit and the civilian clothing she was wearing over it, otherwise only adorned by her sidearm holster.
She sat back down and breathed, rolling up the robe in her hands in front of her, "I din't think it'as likely I'd get caught, is'all, and I din't think ya'all'd see so much trouble in me taking a peek around, it really is an awefully pretty place..."
Aphoxema smiled nervously, "Really pretty, not much'at'all like it. So, you'll be letting me go now, yeah? I mean.. no harm done, of course, right?"
She tried to grin in persuasion as the sharp tapping of the gaurd strolling back grew volume...
Graelyn heard the guards approach. Thier step seemed a bit quick, about half a beat faster than soldiers were used to marching. They were in a hurry. This did not sit well on Graelyn's mind as he reached over quietly pocketed the blaster.
"Free and clear? I think not. You were curious and now you're going to learn something...." he looked towards the doorway. "Well...pending the following outcome..."
Aphoxema heard the steps and turned to face the group as they walked in...
[Duh duh duh... dramatic music plays, cut to commercial break, fade back in, someone else replies...]
Deep in contemplation, the happenings in the vestry were the last thing on Majaraws mind, no distractions were allowed when one paid homage to god and uplifted the soul.
"J4m Z meeting guards outside inqiusition chambers" What are you doing here Sergeant?
Listening to the story as retold by the guard sergeant a sly grin could barely be made out under the shadow off his cowl.
I think you better obey Master Majaraw, he is not one to take things lightly. J4m said as he reached for the door....
Graelyn and Aphox exchanged annoyed glances as the Ammarian lit another smoke.