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Section 1 MISSING


Section 2

Day 1829.

After a week of travel and petty engagements, we find ourselves on a diplomatice mission over Verduban territory. The intention of an upcoming meeting is to discuss sharing a supply of untapped Atlas in the cold north sea.

Communication has proved difficult, but we are making progress. We arranged to meet an aide of the House of Ice outside the citadel at Muskdog, and before I set it off, myh culture officer Dormio tried to offer some advice;

"...and they will expect you to wear simple dress. They are moderate-"

"-I have heard storied of their so-called 'moderation'," I chuckled.

"The storied of nudity are, generally, unfounded sir," he smirked, "we need you to be on best behaviour. If we can guarantee Atlas here, the Economist, and the Committee will be appeased., and we can continue on our way."

"We have a duty to the Verdubans' best interests. We cannot coerce them into accepting terms that are heavily weighted in our favour."

"We have the authority to use-"

"That's enough, Dormio!" I smiled, "If the negotiations fail, you can blame it on me. Now...what's the food like in Muskdog?"

He's a good man, Dormio, and like all of us her's worried about our livelihood, but I can;'t allow personal gain to interfere with what I consider moral obligation - to treat all the people we meet with equal respect.


Section 3

Day 1844.
After the failure of the negotiations at Verduba, there was understandable concern among the crew that we would be summoned to Momoros and lose our commission. Fortunately, the admiralty want to keep us together. Methusan's popularity grows, and he won't risk upsetting the nanban cart by decommissioning his flagship.

However, we were told this was our last chance. They sent us south, to Bandinia. It is always a troubled place, in no small part due to us Saborians. It is a mission requiring the utmost delicacy, and I regret that they have given us authority to declare war if negotiations with King Orthosa are unsuccessful. War with Bandinia is an eventuality I refuse, even as a last resort.


Section 4

Day 1845.
We approached the Bandinian frontier from the warm sea, and over the studded desert. As the light was beginning to fade, the jewels in the desert twinkled. Our course was direct, and we were surprised to find a vessel in our path, not far north-east of Darat.

"It is Bandinian," said Cait, "Maneuverable. We should be cautious, sir.”

Cait's prudence has saved my life, and the life of my crew on more than one occasion. While we don't always agree, she is the fire to my ice, the rage to my calm. I am grateful to have her by my side.

"Very well. Patri, man the lights if you will."

"Yes, sir.“

Patri rotated the spotlight upon the other ship, then at my command, blinked some code; We are a peaceful Saborian vessel, we mean you no harm. There was a pause of some length before there were signs of movement on the rogue ship's deck. A light flickered on, and in a few moments we received their reply; Prepare to be boarded.


Section 5

Day 1845 (continued...)

"They're powering up engines," said Cait.

Several hatches opened up along their bow, and cannons nosed out in our direction.

"Options?"

"We are goliath class, sire. We have a good deal more firepower."

"Hold fire," I said, "Send the message again."

Patri flashed the light; We are a peaceful Saborian vessel, we mean you no harm.

There was no effect, the ship maintained course.

"We are wide open to attack, sir" said Clevedore, "by boarding, or from their guns. Suggest evasive maneuver, then priming the cannons!"

"Maintain current heading. Do nothing else," I remember shouting., and I was right. I was right.

The hostile dance amounted to little more than a fly-by, our dorsals practically touching he Bandinian ship as it passed. Hanging there from the rigging, was a slight and bare-chested boy of no more than fifteen. He gazed unblinkingly up at us, chewing, admiring our ship. It was in that moment I knew he was the only one aboard.


Section 6

Day 1851
We were diverted to the city of Driss. I am told that the capital, Darat, is unsafe. Rioters there protest the mining of Atlas, which they believe is causing the quakes and I wondered if that might affect our meeting. It was therefore agreed that Vilanthrus of Driss, a senior counsel, would open his doors to us instead.

"Welcome," our host said, "please Captain, sit down and share a drink. I've arranged a pleasant stay for your crew outside the city, in the desert garden of Calipolon".

I was surprised at the considerable welcome party crowding the low-vaulted throne room, nobles and significant persons of the state. Among them, a young man stood out. He had fine clothes, and the unmistakably cynical eyes of a born patrician.

"That's a kind offer, but unnecessary. I will need my crew's expertise in these negotiations, you see."

"I'm afraid it is not allowed. I was told by your admiral himself, that a private agreement would be reached between the two of us," said Vilanthrus haughtily.


Section 7

Day 1851 (continued...)

I must have let out a visible sigh. What had commander Methusan agreed this time? Vilanthrus eyed me strangely.

"Very well. Leave us," I said to the crew. Cait looked irritable as she left, and mouthed something. The nobles too were hustled out, all but one remained; the smartly-dressed young man I had noticed.

Vilanthrus twizzled his moustache. Then he stood up and went to the cabinet to pour himself some wine. The young man strode over confidently, and sat upon Vilanthrus' seat.

"I am King Orthosa," he said quickly, "very brave of you, to come here."

"Brave?" I said, and I made a quick move for the door. The guards barred my way.

"No need to escape Captain. You have nothing to fear, from us at least."

What is the meaning of this?"

Orthosa laughed, "all in good time Captain, but for now, relax, enjoy the delights of the palace."


Section 8 MISSING


Section 9

Day 1852 (continued)

"Oh dear Captain. That is not the answer we Saborians were hoping for," he began, jutting his chin upward. "Orthosa here is doing a fine job already. In the last year alone, we have recoupe three-fifths of all Atlas mined in Bandinia. By 3020, we will have the lion's share."

"And the will of the people? The riots?" I said.

Methusan put his arm on the back of the throne, and young Orthosa looked smug. I could see Methusan was acting out the role of the encouraging father, at least, while Orthosa was still useful to him.

"If they don't know what's good for them, then Orthosa here shall legislate. We can make them work if we need to, just like it used to be. In return for these small sacrifices, the King and Vilanthrus here have the freedom of a sublime palace, and everything else they desire. Just think Captain Ajacuss, that could have been you. YOu could have had my special favour, if only you and your damned crew did as you were told."

Orthosa raised an eyebrow. I hung my head in shame. What had become of my people? Saborian-Bandinian relations plunging into darkness anew, and I, powerless to stop it.

The door burst open. It was Cait. She raised her crossbow and fired. The bolt stuck Vilanthrus in the neck, and he fell, retching in blood.

"Run Captain!" she cried, as the guards rushed to attack her.

"No!" I cried, rushing to her defence. I hauled the guards off of her. Then the others arrived and the guards were overwhelmed. When they had been disarmed, their hands were bound.


Section 10 MISSING


Section 11 MISSING


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