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Arya Astra
Arya Astra

Posts : 179
Join date : 2009-12-13

PostSubject: Listen   Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:24 pm

Arya Astra stumbled in to the café, laughing with her group of party goers. She had been up all night clubbing, and the stimulants in her system meant that she wasn’t about to go to sleep anytime soon. The bright lights of the Flat Pack, combined with pupil dilation from spice ingestion, dazzled her vision. It took her a moment to recognize that the man approaching her was her uncle, and closest living relative.

“Uh, hello uncle, you are up late,” she eventually managed to stammer.

“Up late? No, I don’t think so, I am up early,” was Astor Astra’s reply, “You are the one keeping odd hours. Will you join me?”

The rest of her friends had already moved to the back of the café, where they could continue their joking without drawing too many more stares from the more conventional diners. Arya didn’t think she was in any shape to face her uncle, but couldn’t think of a good excuse, so she joined him at a small table by the front window. From here she could confirm that the red light of Cinnhilif was beginning to creep over the horizon of Capitol City. The tops of the towering skyscrapers were beginning to glimmer with the morning light.

“When did you get to Cinnhilif? Why haven’t you looked me up?”

“Oh, well, I just got here a couple days ago. I came in for the Life Day celebration,” Arya offered, hoping this wasn’t going to turn in to another of her uncle’s lectures about her lifestyle.

“Life Day? That was a week ago! Do you even know what day it is today?” Astor started in, proving Arya’s fears correct.

The waitress provided a welcome interruption, “Coffee, please. Extra sugar and cream. Real cream, please, not syntha-cream.” The waitress nodded, suddenly alert, and returned to the counter promptly. If the extravagantly dressed customer was ordering real cream, the possibility for a good tip got her attention. “I’m sorry, uncle, I’ve just been busy, but I was going to give you a call today.”

“What, when you woke up this evening? I’m sure you have been busy, wasting your life as usual.” Astor’s tone was more sad then angry.

“Oh, don’t be like that, we haven’t seen each other in months, lets try to be civil here,” Arya attempted to turn the conversation away from her being on the defensive.

“Very well, Arya,” he agreed, “I just don’t think you are doing your reputation any good carrying on like you do. You are an Astra, please remember what that means.” Despite his agreement, the conversation was still sounding too judgmental for his niece’s tastes.

“Well, it doesn’t mean what it once did,” she jabbed. Seeing the expression on her uncle’s face darken, she immediately regretted the statement, but continued nonetheless. “Our family isn’t quite the ‘powerhouse’ it was when you were a child. Don’t worry about me, I have good accountants, I can afford to do what I want, so why not?”

Astor countered, “And what about when your body gives out from your excessive lifestyle and drug use?”

“That is why I have the best medical care in the galaxy. I have three clones in standby, so what does it matter if I have to replace a liver now and then?”

Astor paused, seeing that his approach was getting nowhere. He stared at the window as the streets and sidewalks began to fill with morning traffic, while Arya slurped her second cup of coffee. “Well, you may think you are secure because of your wealth, but have you been following the news?”

“What do you mean?” she asked over her drink.

“Production at the factories is nearly at a stand still. The Grand Council is deadlocked and unable to do anything about it. If things continue in this direction, your comfortable lifestyle will be impossible in another year.” Astor looked at his watch, “Speaking of the Grand Council, I need to get down to the embassy. Will you walk with me?”

Although her feet were hurting her from a long night of dancing, she agreed, tipped the waitress generously, and the pair walked out on to the street. Her friends in the back of the café paid no attention to her departure, and she did not bother saying goodbye. By this time the red sun was pouring over the city with full strength, and the crowds were thick.

“I just don’t want you to be complacent, and miss what is going on around you. Sure, you have plenty of money, but what happens if we hit a depression? All your wealth could be meaningless if the value of the galactic credit collapses.”

Arya laughed, “Don’t be absurd, uncle. Society has been stable for a thousand years. There have always been doomsayers predicting the downfall of life as we know it, time and time again they have been proven wrong.”

“What happens if they are right this time? Will you be able to hide in your mansion, while starving masses take to the streets, looking for blood?” In front of the Aurlinfinn embassy, Astor stopped. A man in a dark coat nearly bumped in to him, then stepped around the pair towards the entrance to the chambers. He was carrying a bulky package, and appeared to be in a hurry. Astor took his niece’s hand, “I just want you to be careful. These are dangerous times, just pay attention to what is going on around you. You could miss something important, and I couldn’t live with myself if something was to happen to you.”

“OK, I’ll pay more attention, but you have to promise not to worry so much,” she leaned over and kissed her uncle on the cheek. “Everything is going to be alright, just wait. In another month, all this trouble will blow over.”

“I hope you are right. Give me a call I’ll take you out to dinner before you leave planet,” he shouted over his shoulder as he climbed the stairs to the main entrance. Arya waved good bye to her uncle, smiling. She had no idea it would be the last time she would see him.

Crossing the street, Arya moved towards a park bench opposite the main entrance. She decided to stop and rest her feet before calling a hover-cab; she had had enough walking for one day. Watching people come in and out of the embassy, she noticed the same man that had almost walked in to them come out, still very much in a hurry. It did not occur to her at the time that he no longer carried his parcel.

Eventually Arya tapped the comlink built in to her bracelet to call for a pick up. As the line connected to a dispatcher, all hell broke lose. A blast of noise and heat enveloped her, knocking her off the bench. Flames erupted from the front entrance and surrounding windows, making it half way across the street, and causing startled drivers to crash in to the crowded sidewalks. Next came a shower of broken glass and plastic, followed by a chorus of sobbing, screams, and sirens.

“Central City Cab, destination please,” chirped the bracelet comlink. “Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?” Arya was puzzled by the voice coming from her wrist, before fading out of consciousness.

One week later, back at her estate on Aurlinfinn I, Arya Astra called her servants and advisors to a meeting. “Pack up your things, put everything for sale that we can’t fit in to a Scout ship.”

“What about the estate? This has been in our family for generations,” questioned her head accountant, a timed grey haired Aurchan.

“Sell it. We are leaving, and I don’t think we are coming back,” she replied curtly.

“You’ve had a shock dear,” reassured her secretary, “Don’t do anything rash before you think things through.”

Arya was resolute, “I am thinking more clearly then I have in my entire life. Also, I need all the star charts you can get on the frontier systems. You are dismissed.” With a few grumbles, the assembled supporters left her office.

Arya loaded a map of Nyridion on her desk screen, and began reviewing the colonies, not exactly sure what she was looking for. Still jetlagged from her trip home, she rubbed her eyes, the skin of her face still itchy from the dermal regeneration done to repair the scars from a few pieces of glass that struck her in the explosion. When her physician asked her about replacing her damaged eardrum, she declined. She told him she wanted to keep the ringing for a while, as a reminder for her to listen.

“Rise and fall of a nation rests with every one of its citizens.” - Ancient Chinese Proverb
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