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Factions 2

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The story goes on...

Some of you may not have realised it, but the Arrakis Factions storyline has been growing a bit dry of late. With Ekaterina granted access to nigh-unlimited forces, and the allies constantly building at a ridiculous rate, a stalemate seems inevitable. Therefore, in the interests of preserving the story, Dragoon Knight and I have put together a scenario for continuation. We have already been granted the support of Davidu, the original thread's author, and Ghosthunter, who has generously agreed to play House Atreides. This thread does not begin where the old one left off, so let me give you a brief summary of the actions that have befallen Arrakis...

It all started with Paul Atreides. The young Duke had only narrowly escaped from Arrakis, and spent several months consolidating his position on Caladan, stabilising the planet after the chaos following his departure from Arrakis. He began to campaign in the Landsraad, attempting to reveal the treachery of the Emperor, and the Baron Harkonnen. A message from the Ixians on Arrakis informed him that some of his men were still alive on the planet, and that Arrakis itself was in danger of becoming a warzone.

Paul immediately contacted the Ixians. Together with the help of a Harkonnen traitor, they pieced together enough evidence to put before the Landsraad. The evidence was incomplete, and not entirely conclusive, but it was enough to humiliate the Emperor and cause the Baron to cut his losses.

In a public gesture of apology, the Emperor forced the Baron to remove all of his forces from Arrakis, forbidding his house from owning the fief again during his lifetime. He then gifted the fiefdom of Arrakis to the strongest presence on the planet, the formerly renegade House Trebeis. He also pulled all Sardaukar off Arrakis. The Baron, furious that his plans to exterminate the Atreides had come to naught, pulled every string that he could reach and forced the Emperor into handing over Athalon IV, homeworld of the Trebeis. Knowing that it would be a personal insult, he gifted the planet to Ekaterina Moritani, expelled from House Harkonnen for failing to clear Arrakis. Ekaterina left Arrakis happily, but maintains a strong Moritani presence in the city of Arsunt. Her brother Aleksandr, meanwhile, was taken into House Trebeis in a formal ceremony, as an adopted son of the ailing Duke.

With the withdrawal of the Harkonnen from Arrakis, the Kondor Cartel expanded rapidly, becoming almost too big. It now faces a difficult decision: to remain a large organisation, and thus become a legitimate, legal company; or to downsize and split up, becoming isolated smugglers once more.

Outpost 9 is still much the same as ever. The Ixians continue their research into the enviroment of Arrakis, offering technology, at a price. Their satellite continues to circle the equator, annoying the Guild. However, Head Ambassador Relnev has been recalled to Ix by the Council...

Arrakis Factions is no longer an accurate title. The universe is bigger now, involving Athalon IV, Ix, Grumman, Caladan, and probably many other locations as well. Welcome to Factions 2.

Rules:

No Chemical, Biological, or Nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Smaller Chemical, Biological or Nuclear weapons that aren't of mass destruction are ok, but try not to overdo it. Casualties > 200, = mass destruction.

Posts of less than twenty words will be gunned down on sight.

Keep it sensible, people. Common sense and all that.

Arrakis is the only source of spice, but it is not immune to attack. That would be kind of stupid. ;)

EDIT: No no-ships.

This thread is not restricted to people who took part in the previous incarnation. Anyone can join this thread.

Begin!

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Micheal Strike, Baron of Julius, the Jungle world of the KYA  looked over the reports, the stability of the Empire was threatened, the news of the reports on Arrakis had been disturbing to say the least. While his past alliances with the Harkkonen stretched to their limits with the events of the recent, he considered the polar opposite, The Baron had promised them some kind of compensation for sending tech specialists, he had not. Micheal felt betrayed for not receiving any riches of Arrakis.

Deceived and lied to, Strike would no longer be a pawn of the Harkkonen, perhaps it was time to Ally with the Atreides, and dispense with the Floating fat man.

He grabbed a piece of parchment and started scribbling, almost furiously.

To the Baron of Gedi Prime(He made sure to say of Gedi prime instead of Arrakis, as if ti rub in the loss anymore)

-Your failures to secure Arrakis, and the lack of compensation for our assistance to your campaign have forced me to reconsider our assistance and stance with you and your house. Our Alliance will be terminated unless you can deliver the fallowing.

-15 million Solars of compensation within the next 2 standard weeks.

-Return of any and all KYA technical personal within the next 2 standard weeks.

And an apology.

Signed,

Baron Strike

The first two could possibly be done, but he had a feeling that the latter would not be, and that would give Strike a reasonable enough excusable to terminate the alliance.

(OOC: Don't mind if I get in the frey do you?)

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The newly appointed Chancellor Relnev reclined in his favourite chair, relishing the last day of his vacation.  Since his return from Arrakis, he had earned considerable fame and power through the facilitation of a peaceful solution to the problems on Dune.  Promotion was instant; Chancellor of the Ixian Council.  He had almost hoped that the position was that of a figurehead, but the technocracy of Ix ensured that everyone contributed to their allocated role.  As Chancellor, he had full control of the forces of Ix, should the need arise.  There were very few he had to answer to.

The sole condition for his acceptance of his new position was that Eemins be promoted to Vice-Chancellor.  He had been a valuable ally and friend during the time on Arrakis, and Relnev knew that he needed all the expertise he could get.  For contrary to popular belief, things were not 'resolved' on Arrakis; the Harkonnen would not be happy with losing their hold on Dune.

Relnev sighed, and stood up.  Looking out of the window at the sprawling city below his living quarters, he knew he had done the right thing.

We couldn't have maintained our position on Dune alone... if I had not contacted the Atreides, we would have failed.

A double-edged sword, and Relnev knew it.  Now the entire Empire would get involved.  Before long, people would begin to take sides.  The Atreides, the Harkonnen, the Trebeis... no doubt the Guild and the Bene Gesserit would pounce sooner or later, too.

"All a matter of time." Relnev said to himself, and sat down again.

He picked up some reports from Outpost 9 on Arrakis, scanning them briefly.  The defenses were being lowered to a more civil level, and trade was continuing nicely.  Eemins had remained there to oversee the operations for the duration of Relnev's short repose, and was due back tomorrow.

And what will tomorrow bring? he thought.

Reaching up, he dimmed the glowstrip that lined the room, and moved through to his sleeping quarters.  As he settled down to sleep, he could not help but think that it was the last good night's rest he'd have for a long time.

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Grim oppression could be taken in by lung. Not that of a legislative branch, but that of heavy loss.

Day two of the mourning was about, and even though the intention was to be confined, the castle ran a continual buzz. Several guardsmen had begun a new training schedule that would push them past their previous levels. Their footsteps could be heard running up and down staircases as group leaders yelled orders.

Typically the House Guard of any House Major would be trained outside through some external force. Much the case was the same with the Atreides; many fought in battle and proved themselves worthy of being the Duke

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Aleksandr Trebeis sat back in his chair, watching the sun disappear behind the rim of the shield wall. He enjoyed the peace that came at this time of day, when the chaos of managing the new Trebesian accounts abbated for the night. Now that the house was legally in control of Dune, financial matters were suddenly much more complicated. The old Duke was ailing, and most of his staff were taken up with looking after him. Atilian, Aleksandr's adopted brother, handled most of the day-to-day running of the planet, and had little time or patience for desk work. Aleksandr had happily stepped in to fill the breach, and now spent his days in a large office in the official residence that he himself had commandeered as Governor. He balanced the books, checked the figures, filed the reports, and generally made sure that everything was running smoothly. Every so often a Guild representative would arrive to make sure he wasn't fiddling the figures, but Aleksandr had yet to meet one of the Emperor's auditors.

Most of his staff had left of course, being Harkonnen servents, but Aleron had stayed on to help. The two of them seemed to have found a niche, and Aleksandr was content to let things stay that way. Still... he tried to ignore the quiet dread that stole over him when he wasn't working. Things were tense on Dune. What with the uncertainty of the smuggler loyalties, and the continued problem of Arsunt, Atilian had his work cut out. Aleksandr was glad to be out of it.

He still maintained contact with Relnev, the former Ixian Ambassador to Arrakis. The man was much busier now of course, but the relationship between Ix and the Trebeis had made re-acceptance into the Imperium far easier. Aleron and Eemins often met in Outpost 9, to exchange messages and general infomation. he also maintained a small guard of five hundred men; men who had nothing to tie them to Giedi Prime and had been prepared to stay in the harsh climate of Dune. Aleksandr made a mental note to check on them during the next few days. It wouldn't do to seem too cloistered. Maybe he would pay a visit to the Duke while he was at it. After all, the old man wasn't in the best of health... That thought repeating over and over in his head, Aleksandr Trebeis, formerly Harkonnen, formerly Moritani, nodded off into an uneasy sleep.

* * *

The sun was rising over Athalon IV's new capital city, Catrione. Bright to the point of being harsh, it pierced the thin veil of cloud, reflecting painfully from the surrounding snow. Catrione, of course, was already active. Perched just below the summit of Mount Catrion, the mining city had started the morning shift three hours ago. Thick black smoke billowed from factory chimneys, blown rapidly South by the high mountain winds. Lights were flickering on and off throughout the city as the unreliable power supply fizzled and spurted. Ekaterina enjoyed it.

Lady Ekaterina Moritani of Athalon IV held a sheet of vellum in her hand (and what a pleasent change it made from the flimsy spice paper!), scanning it carefully. It gave the mining figures for the city, taken over the previous month. The three primary exports were all noted here; coal, Ergol fungus, and the gems that were considered by some to be more precious than soostones, the vibrant Athalon Sapphires. She look up at the man who had presented them to her, Head Foreman Tribbyt.

"And these figures... these are normal?" She asked.

"Well, er," the Head Foreman stuttered nervously, having heard tales of what had happened in the old capital, "we're actually a little behind with those figures your ladyship. I, ah, that is, the miners aren't, well they are worried about their families and friends. They are not working exactly to normal rate..." He trailed off in the face of Ekaterina's calm smile. All of a sudden, he believed every one of the stories from the south. Even the one about the fish.

"You will ensure that the miners work at full speed from now on." The Lady said quietly.

"Oh yes, of course!" The Foreman exclaimed, breaking out in a cold sweat. At that moment he would have agreed to anything her ladyship said.

"Those that do not meet their new quota shall be refered to my staff." Ekaterina continued.

"Oh yes, yes, naturally!" The Foreman trembled.

"Good. You may leave now." Ekaterina dismissed the man with a wave of her delicate hand. She watched as the Foreman, bowing and scraping, mumbling thanks and probably prayers as well, left the new throne room. She stood up from her throne, stepping behind it into a hidden alcove. Pressing a button, Ekaterina slipped through the opening that appeared into a narrow passage. She walked along it slowly. Passing a large window, she paused to look out over her new domain.

It had happened at last. Ekaterina had charge of an entire planet. She was someone worth recognising. Of course she was still technically under the control of the Viscount, but her father was more or less content to let Ekaterina do as she wished. Athalon IV would, once she had brought it up to standard, make a nice little earner for House Moritani. And of course there were all the other benefits... Ekaterina had gained access to the remains of the Trebeis' sizable military, including all stores and De-meks. She had moved the capital from the old city up to Catrione because the mountain city was both the largest and most populous of the planet. It extended deep underground, further down than the mountain itself in fact, in a maze-like network of tunnels and subterranian chmbers. There were whole village-sized communities in this mountain, all interconnected. It was the most defencible location on the planet, and had been a bastion of rebel strength until Atilian Trebeis had left. Then the defences of the rebels all over the world had crumbled, and submitted completely to Harkonnen rule. The populance had offered little resistance when the Moritani came to power, and a few demonstrations had put an end to even that.

The mountains outside shone in the dawn light. Furhter to the South, Ekaterina knew, were the jungles that held most of the cities on the planet. Beyond them, the plains and deserts of the equator. She would go there next. Most of Athalon derived its power from the solar generators in the South, and Ekaterina wanted to ensure that there were no slip-ups. Not that she really cared, as Catrione was coal-powered, but the rest of the planet was important too. So much work, so little time to have fun... Ekaterina grinned at the memory of the pet projects that she wanted to work on.

* * *

Caelen Larva of the Elite Guard smiled at the night sky. Arsunt was quiet, and that was how he liked it. The city was ruled by the Trebeis in name only, his mistress still had a firm grip here, even though she was thousands of miles away. Still fortified against any intrusion, Arsunt would be her legacy on Arrakis. The population cowed and quiet, Caelen's job was easy. Maintain order. At any cost.

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Micheal, grunted and sat down at the head of the long discussion table. His advisors sat sprinkled from chair to chair.

"Daily report gentlemen? Did you get the information I asked of?" He asked.

"Yes." Alex Heigha replied, "Our population is somewhere between 2 and 3 billion as you know, we have anywhere between 60 and 70 million men and women in our armed forces around the entire planet. This is a small portion compared to that of the Harkonnen or imperials."

"What percentage of that force are the highly trained elitists that I asked for?"

"Only somwhere in the range ten to thirty thousand, and they are still far from that of the imperial forces." Alfred Constantelo replied the scar across his throat shining in the glow globe light

Micheal grunted, industrialzing the KYA had taken far longer the had hoped for, both the Richease and the Ixian's had not replied to his request for equipment and personel to train and help create fatories for the KYA.

"The Harkonnen's have not replied to our messege yet. Prepare the usual documents confirming that we break wish to break the treaty. And prepare another treaty to be sent to the Atreides at all do haste to ask for allience. Hopefully they will accept this, from the reports on Arrakis their forces were soundly beaten." Strike said

"My lord, What if the Harkonen's actully give what we asked for?" Another aid asked.

"Well then, we simply remain in the middle for as long as possible, and aid the honourable."

_______________________

Tolnep Research 5% complete, 5% each post.

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The news made Paul into particularly happy mood, the first since he set back on Caladan. Hawat had apparently found a home within the smuggler

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After such a long time Carth had the power to turn the Kondor Cartel into a legitimate force, maybe a Small House of some sort. In the past time his wealth grew enourmously, and he hired more and more men, thus being as powerful as a Small House.

His relations with the Trebeis were all right. They were closing eyes. Even so, the smugglers' lust for profit made them realise that the hard cash came in legal ways that made smuggling seems a waste of time, now that they weren;t hunted like animals by the Harkonnen.

Message to Aleksander, House of Trebeis:

[hide] My friend and fellow witness of the ordeals of war,

I am interested into turning my Cartel into a legitimate Small House. Please advice me on how I shall start the process.

Sincerely thanks,

Carth Bindar

[/hide]

"A small little planet or moon somewhere would do nice. In a short while I may be able to have enough money to buy a small planet, or moon. I'd like that. Time to let the young ones over here. Eh... I love new beginnings."

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OOC: I'm in, just can't do a proper post at the moment. Will probably be the Tlieaxu(oops, forgotten how to spell it).

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"Carth Bindar, of the Kondor Cartel, has sent us a message." Aleron stated calmly, passing the roll of paper to Aleksandr, who read it carefully.

"A House?" He asked rhetorically, "But he doesn't have any family."

"You don't think it's a good idea?" Aleron asked, perched on the end of a desk.

"I don't think it's possible..." Aleksandr mused, tapping his chin absently. "He has no forebears, no lineage to speak of. He has money, yes, but would politics really be the best use of it?"

"Perhaps he would be better off considering other options, then." Aleron suggested. "He could try for a CHOAM contract, or seek employment with the Trebeis..."

"He likes his independence, that one." Aleksandr smiled. "I expect that depending on the Ixian treatments is very galling to him. Still, I think I have an idea. Hand me that paper, would you?"

Reply to Carth Bindar:

I would recommend that you consider forming a merchant guild, rather than a House Minor. There is no need for blood ties in a guild, and no requirement to participate in the Landsraad. I doubt that you require sponsorship, but I could put a word in with the right people if you desire. I am sure that the Duke Trebeis will be glad to award you beneficial contracts, considering the work that we have shared in the past.

With respect, Aleksandr Trebeis.

* * *

"How many of the elite guard did we leave on Arrakis?" Ekaterina asked. She stood on a wooden platform, looking down at the construction of a brand new wing of the palace in Catrione. It was, of course, deep underground.

"Three, M'lady." Alacia Vorbid reported. "Orianna, Caelen, and Wordsworth."

"And aside from yourself, the locations of the others?" The Lady asked. She started to stare at one of the workmen. Let him tremble in his boots.

"Dune and Douglas are guarding your person, of course." Alecia started to list. "Danaus is close by, because we cannot afford to let him out of our sight for too long; Aurelien is still in the old capital, maintaining order; Vail is engaged in covert opperations in the jungles; Alonya is with him. Rachael is of course nearby." She finished, and put her hands behind her back. They were twitching with the prospect of the slaughter that this room would witness. Ekaterina blinked.

"So of the Eleven Elite, five are close by?" She asked.

"Yes, M'lady." Alacia confirmed. "We also have a substantial number of the Trebesian Old Guard to call on, as well as their standing military. I have had no difficulty in subduing them. In fact, I have planned a test of their loyalty, which I am sure that they will pass..."

"Oh?" Ekaterina smirked, raising an eyebrow. She turned away from the workman that she had been worrying. "Do tell..."

* * *

"I have been thinking..." Aleksandr said, as he scribbled calculations down. "About House Trebeis' position."

"You too, hm?" Aleron smiled. He leaned over Aleksandr's shoulder. "You forgot to carry the 3 there." He pointed.

"Oh, thank you. That could have been awkward." Aleksandr corrected the mistake. "Well yes. We both know that Dune was only given to House Trebeis-"

"Our house." Aleron corrected softly.

"-our house, yes." Aleksandr agreed. "We know that Dune was only given to our house because it was the strongest faction on the planet at the time. Nobody wanted the bother of a drawn-out siege."

"That and also the Atreides were too weak to take the fief back." Aleron nodded, "And House Harkonnen has been banned from holding it while the Baron lives."

"But what happens when our stay here comes to an end?" Aleksandr asked. He pushed the paper away, and wiped his brow. Even for Arrakis, this day was unusually hot. Or maybe it just seemed hotter.

"You mean when another house is awarded the fief?" Aleron asked.

"It has to happen some time." Aleksandr shrugged. "And given the attitude of the Emperor and Baron, it may been sooner rather than later."

"You have a plan." Aleron stated.

"You know me too well." Aleksandr smirked, throwing a scrap of paper of his shoulder. It hit Aleron's nose, and he sneezed. Aleksandr laughed. "Yes, I do have a plan. I don't think you're going to like it." His voice grew serious very suddenly. Aleron, who had been chuckling quietly, looked up. As always, Aleksandr's eyes were inscrutible. One metallic Tleilaxu, the other blue Ibad.

"If you don't think I'll like it, I probably won't." He said carefully. Unlike Aleksandr, he was still very much aware that he was an employee, not an equal. Aleks forgot that.

"I think that I should ask the Duke about alliance to another House." Aleksandr said carefully.

"And you think that you should marry a member of another house in order to cement the alliance." Aleron guessed immediately, while Aleksandr nodded. "Why yourself, and not Atilian?"

"We both know that any marriage of mine will not produce any children." Aleksandr said awkwardly. "If it did, then they would almost inevitably fight with Atilian's for control of House Trebeis. No, far better for me to have a marriage of convenience and alliance, and Atilian to marry for alliance and children. The bloodline remains pure that way." He stopped. "I thought I'd better ask you, to see if you think it's a good idea. You've always steered me right before."

"Of course." Aleron said, coughing heavily as he did so. He turned away, and peered out of the window at Arrakeen. "It's a good idea. Why should I object?"

"For the same reason that I might." Aleksandr sighed.

To the Duke Trebeis, upon his return:

I should like to discuss with you the prospect of alliance with another house. Without an ally in the Landsraad (in this I do not count the Ix, as technically their political power is not great, though practically it may be otherwise), I fear that House Trebeis may face a dire end in the future. Athalon IV is no longer open to us, and Arrakis will not be ours forever. I propose marriage to another Great House. A House that can aid us should we fall into difficult circumstances, and possibly lobby the Landsraad to return Athalon IV. I await your reply, and sincerely hope that you are in good health.

With fond regards, Aleksandr.

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OOC: Do we have to be the same faction as in Factions 1? And do we need to post stats?

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You don't have to be, but it would make more sense. And no, you don't need to post stats. It's too easy to just make 'em up.

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OOC: Well this is definately an excellant concept, I must however point out that the remains of the Trebesian's heavy weaponry on Athalon, along with Schematics would of been destroyed. No compitant millitary man would leave such a thing open to enemy.

Hobbling along the corridors of the Old Trebesian Compound in the Capital, he remarked how things had changed. This base alone had only recently been all that was controlled by the Trebeis. Now they held an entire planet. Shaking his head, he mumbled to himelf "I wonder where my sons have gotten to. Continuing through the Corridor, he stopped by a door from which loud clanging noises were emitting from. It was another new thing. New Nokker Guardsman, something that had not ocurred in years. Entering, he saw boys, new recruites sparring and fighting, being instructed by Nokkers and Giza Swordsman. Near the back, he saw what he was looking for. Atillian was there, holding a No'kar'e sword and was standing next to his adopted brother, going through several advanced Nokker stances and attacks. Well, I am glad he is taking well to the transistion from Harkonnen to Trebesian. His sword skills are abismal though, too much time behind a desk I presume.

Shuffling toward the two, He said simply to Aleksandr "Son" the word caught, they both still were not used to using it. Contiuing "I recieved your Communique' on my way back from the Imperial planet, yes my speech with the Laandtraad went well. As for your proposal... Well, come with me. It's best we discuss this in private.

"Alright" Aleksandr replied, sheathing his new No'kar'e. They walked out of the huge room, Atillian tailing.

"Now, You propose Atillian enter a marriage to secure an allience? I too have contemplated this. With whom do you suggest we approach?" The old duke said.

Walking beside his massive counterpart, the Commander of the Water Treatment Facility, Qapmoq said "As you know, Resources were sevearly drained due to the long battle with Ekatanria. However, having an entire planet now at our disposal, we are in a posistion to aquire many nore men for our forces-and the capability to produce most anything we need equipment-wise. Plus, feelings of support among the 50,000 or so men from the former volunteer forces are high, almost all have already applied to join up. I would like you to immediately begin recruiting again, those men already having applied are to begin training. Also, our airforce which you know contains around 1500 Ornithopters and approximately 2000 assault Frigates may of been appropriate before, but it is not nearly enough to defend an entire planet. Send these forms to Atillian's office to be signed, once they are, begin production of aircraft.

Meanwhile, a few messages had been sent from the Duke's office.

Message to Carth Bindar.

[hide] Carth, as a personal friend of my Son, Atillian, and House Trebeis, I hope you maintain strong contacts with us. If there is anything you need, ask.

Duke Trebeis, Leader of house Trebeis, Arrakis.[/hide]

Message to Duke Atreades.

[hide] Dear Duke Paul. As you know, our houses had extreamly close relations before our going Renegade, we were even Allies. I would like us to resume these relations, as we would surely both benefit. We did in the past.

The condolances of myself and my entire family and house go out to yourself and the families of your fallen men.

Duke Trebeis, Leader of house Trebeis, Arrakis.

P.S. My apologies for the loss of your father..... He was a great man, and a personal friend of mine. Our downfall was a direct result to our open hostility to the emporer's acts and the threats that followed from my house. Despite the end result, I would have done it again.[/hide]

Message to Relnev

[hide] Congradulations on your promotion friend! You must come and visit the first chance you get! Consider it an inventation.

Duke Trebeis, Leader of house Trebeis, Arrakis.[/hide]

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While Carth was browsing some papers with offers of land on several worlds, an aid enetered bringing in two messages.

- Oh, crap... My aim was political. Damn! He's right. No family - no chance.

Message to Alexandr:

[hide] Though my aims were political, I see the reason in your words. Then, yes, I'd like to from a Trading Guild, bearing the same name. Tell me what you need, if you'll take care of this for me, or tell me the names of the people to speak to.

Thank you, friend.[/hide]

Message to Duke Trebeis:

[hide] There is nothing i require right now, but I thank you for your concern on my well being. Again, if you need anything, tell me and I can surely FIND it for you.[/hide]

After a few moments contemplating the offers of land Carth sprung up and took a pen:

Message to Duke Trebeis:

[hide] After some moments of thinking there might just be a thing you could help me with. I surely want to get rid of the poison supressors the ixians provided. I always pay my debts, so I am in debt to them, as I will be towards you, but the fact that I have to take these things so often is irritating. So I ask you if you have some "aquaintances" around the Suk Medicine School, please tell me.

Sincerely, Carth Bindar.[/hide]

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The Duke coughed. Aleksandr was mentally reviewing the advantages and disadvantages an allience with the various Houses while Atillian and himself sat and waited. The atmosphere was alittle tense, so the loud entrance of an Aid made them all jump. The man in question quickly deposited a message on the Duke's desk, bowed and exited. Picking up the message, the Duke mumbled quietly "Ah, our good friend Carth has sent us some messages!" Handing one to Aleksandr, He began reading his own.

"Hmmmm"

Looking up, Atillian asked "What does he say?"

"Well, he appearently needs our assistance Securing a Suk."

"Hah!" Atillian exclaimed "Surely we can get one for him, we do still have a few contacts in the Suk Acadamy.... But where we he get the kind of Solaris neccisary to pay for one?"

"Well, we do owe the man much. After all, we would not be where we are with him.... I think we cn help out in that aspect as well. Have a Letter dispatched to the Academy, tell them to send us a Suk specialising in poisons. Also, have half of his fee paid from our coiffers."

Nodding in agreement, Atillian stood and walked off.

"So Aleksandr, what does Mr. Bindar have to say to you?"

Message to Carth

[hide]It has been done, we have dispatched for a Suk, with luck he will arrive within the week. However, they charge quite harshly. Houses have been known to go bankrupt when an ailing leader relies too much upon their menistrations. In light of this, and as a further show of gratitude for your aid during the rebellion, I have had half of the Doctor's fee paid for already. I hope you do not mind. On another topic, there is indeed something I would like you to help me find. We lost nearly an entire Sub-fer (100 men) unexpectantly during the fighting. Despite the Sattalite Aleksandr had launched, and our massive force of orbiting Assault Frigate, we are yet to find any sign of them. If you could help us locate these men, we would be eternally grateful. If you accept, we would be happy to give you 10 of our Mark II Heavy Ornithopters, which you of all people could appreciate. You saw them in action a few times I daresay.

Duke Trebeis, Leader of house Trebeis, Arrakis.[/hide]

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OOC: Well this is definately an excellant concept, I must however point out that the remains of the Trebesian's heavy weaponry on Athalon, along with Schematics would have been destroyed. No compitant millitary man would leave such a thing open to enemy.

Oh, but there are so many men, and so many ways of making them talk...

"Word is that the Atreides, under their new Duke, are still mourning." Rachael stated emotionlessly, reading from a thick roll of vellum. Her hair blew in front of her eyes, and she flicked it out of the way again. Snowflakes had settled thickly on the crown of her head, and the movement sent a small flurry back up and into the strong mountain wind. Ekaterina, who had tied her own hair back, made a dismissive gesture and said nothing. Rachael checked her list again. "We have also recieved formal communication from the Ixians, notifying all houses of Ambassador Relnev's promotion."

"Promotion?" Ekaterina spat, causing the guards nearby to shuffle uneasily. "That man is responsible for my expulsion from House Harkonnen. If he hadn't helped my brother, and that whelp of a Trebeis..." She continued to mutter her grievences against Relnev, even as the square below started to come to life.

From one of the few high balconies in Catrione, the two women looked down upon the newly renamed Moritas Square, a great expanse of smoothed rock that the previous management had used for military parades. It was covered by snow, but that wouldn't matter. There were crowds around the edges, wrapped up in their winter furs. None of them were cheering. At the far end, the civilians were parting. An uninformed watcher might have asked why, but not for very long. Already, the top of the first I-Mek could be seen approaching through the mist.

A massive construction, it stepped ponderously into the square on six thick segmented legs. Steam hissed from many vents and funnels, while the construction itself was hot enough on the outside to melt the snowflakes that landed on the surface. The colour of bronze, it clanked and hissed its way past the crowds.

"Behold!" The voice boomed around the square, even in the cold. Ekaterina glanced sideways, where the announcer, a former Trebesian broadcaster who had been eager to help, stood on his own platform. "The new defence of the city of Catrione, the I-Mek, Improved-Mek!" The man paused, apparantly waiting for applause. He quickly realised that there would be none, and ploughed on as the second I-Mek entered the sqaure. "Yes, Improved! The De-Meks that we all grew so used to may have been flash, but it was more like flash in the pan!" Ekaterina winced. "Not only were those contraptions expensive to run, but they were also, autonomous! Targeting systems, thinking machines! We, my fellow citizens, were mere inches from becoming slaves once more to the thinking machines!

"It is through the grace of our Lady," here he indicated the balcony, "that we have been saved from such a fate. Enter the I-Mek! Unlike the De-Meks, these are guided by real human beings! They are larger, perhaps slightly slower, but they certainly pack a punch! Take a long look at that howitzer folks, that can bring down a frigate if it's aimed properly! And of course you've all noticed, what's with the vents? Well, the I-Mek is steam powered. That's right, steam-powered. They are to be used solely for defending our glorious city, and similar holdings. Until further work is done, the old De-Meks will have to serve. Don't worry though, the I-Meks will keep them in their place! Ho ho!" He laughed heartily at his own joke. By now there were ten I-Meks in the sqaure. Towering over the civilians, they executed various combat stances and displays.

Ekaterina, who had done her waving and smiling for the day, had already left. She stood inside, shaking the snow from her hair. A slave moved forward to take her coat, and she shrugged it to the floor.

"That announcer seemed very enthusiastic." She commented, striding away from the doors toward one of the many elevators down.

"He is a defector." Rachael answered simply, checking her notes on the man in question. "During the transition period he worked from a broadcasting station, jamming rebel signals while simmultaneously broadcasting his own loyalist propaganda. We believe that he has been very useful to us. His motives appear to be simple, he wishes to play for the winning team."

"Hmm. As Vladimir said to me once, 'never trust a traitor.'" Ekaterina frowned. The elevator started to descend. "Keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn't misbehave. Which reminds me, how are the Sepkul doing?"

"Rapid progress has been made, M'lady." Rachael rolled down her scroll some more. "The Secret Police is almost entirely made up of Moritani personell, with a few loyalists as well. All Trebesian recruits are thoroughly examined and watched before being allowed entry. The people are already beginning to act accordingly. On a related matter, the reformation of the education system is also well underway." She passed Ekaterina a smaller piece of vellum. "As you can see, all but a few of the schools are complying with the new initiatives."

"Brainwashing made easy." Ekaterina grinned nastily. She checked the floor. "How goes construction of my new torture chamber?"

"Faster than expected, M'lady." Rachael smirked ever so slightly. "On the subject, your Generals are ready for the campaign in the Old Capital."

"Wonderful."

* * *

"Carth wishes to start a Merchant Guild of his own." Aleksandr informed the Duke. "I was thinking perhaps you could award him his first contract. But regarding the Suk-" he continued before the Duke could begin, "Are you sure that this is a good idea? I know the poison that Ekaterina used, and I know that it cannot be extracted from the body without massive system failure. Carth will be taking surpressants for the rest of his life, no matter how long that is. I worry that suk interference will damage the relationship with the Ixians; or even worse, harm the man rather than help."

"Hmm, I'll have to think about that." The Duke mused. "Still, on the subject of marriage?

"Actually, I had thought it more prudent if I were to be the one to secure an alliance." Aleksandr corrected quickly, to forestall the protests of his brother. "Atilian, when he eventually marries, will be expected to provide Trebesian heirs to further the line. In order to maintain peace in the family, it is better if any marriage of mine is childless. Thus it makes sense that mine should be for political reasons."

"Makes sense." The Duke nodded, hand on his chin. Atilian, surprised, fell silent.

"As for who... Well ideally we would be able to convince an enemy to aid us, namely Houses Harkonnen or Corrino." He continued hurriedly in the face of the Duke's expression. "But as that is hardly likely, I think it would be most prudent to examine which houses would be prepared to ally with a House that is, to be blunt, in a precarious position. Perhaps one that has a lot to lose itself, or is stable enough for both of us. Several examples spring immediately to mind. Richese, one of the families on the Ixian Council, Wallach, or perhaps one of my cousins in the Ordos. And while I'm here, there was one other thing." He added. "Word is that there are 'unusual men' doing unusual things on the planet. Details are scare, but I assumed that you'd heard something?

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Nodding the Duke began to speak, but was cut off by a massive caughing fit. When he regained his posture, there was a small trickle of blood running down his lip. Absent-mindedly wiping it away, he quickly motioned fo Atillian and Aleksandr to quell their growing apprehension. Continuing, he said "Yes, there are actually a few operations going on. Intelligence suggests that one is nothing more than a search mission by the Atreades. If they wish our assistance, their welcome to it, but insofar they have not asked for it. The part that I believe would intrest you goes as such, we have heard of the possibility of members of your sister's guard having been left behind to maintain a presence for her. We have tried verifying these rumour to no avail. They have proven to be quite slippery."

After subduing another coughing fit, he added "Anyway, I was thinking that an allience with the Richese might harm relations with the Ix, which would harm more than help us. In light of this, perhaps the Ordos or those of Wallach would be more suitable. Maybe you should approach them? Also, Carth's request was for a Suk, I am not going to interfere. It was the least I could do. As for his Guild- I would indeed relish the oppertunity to be his first contracted Custumer... Perhaps that is another thing you might handle for me?" he ended, quickly turning away to hide another blood traced cough.

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"Certainly, father." Aleksandr said dryly, as the Duke was led away by a servent. Atilian stood next to him, watching the old man leave.

"He conceals it well, but I think he is in great pain." Atilian sighed, a worried expression on his face.

"Of course he is." Aleksandr agreed, adjusting his sword belt to make it more comfortable. "How can anyone wear these things all of the time... The tleilaxu caused serious injury. If he can acquire the services of a Suk for Carth, I do wonder why he has not yet ordered one for himself." Atilian gasped.

"Is it possible..." he said, horror-struck, "that he realises he is near the end? That there is nothing a Suk can do?"

"Possible." Aleksandr frowned. "And it would be just like him not to tell anyone. Hmm."

"What can we do?" Atilian asked.

"There is something that bothers me about this case..." Aleksandr mused, apparantly not listening. "The Bene Tleilax are known to be assassins, but they have their rules. The target is always to be given an oppertunity to escape their net, and they are always to be given the name of the person who ordered their demise, isn't that so?"

"I don't know and I don't care." Atilian dismissed the issue. "What is important right now is the health of my- our father."

"He's surrounded by his doctors already." Aleksandr shrugged. "If they know something, they have been told to keep quiet. And if they have been told to keep quiet, the Duke doesn't want anyone to know. Would you go against his wishes?"

"To save his life? Of course!" Atilian nodded vehemently.

"You believe you know what is best for him, better even than he does?" Aleksandr turned around, and started to lead the way back to the training room.

"Don't get philosophical about this." Atilian protested, walking alongside. "If he is injured, he needs medical attention!"

"He's already getting medical attention." Aleksandr stood outside the door. "Atilian, I don't think that anyone wanted the Duke dead. It doesn't make sense. None of the assassination protocols were followed, and the Duke survived the attempt. All indications point to someone wanting him critically injured, but not dead."

"Why on Dune would anybody want that?" Atilian asked irritatedly.

"That is a question I have yet to answer." Aleksandr shrugged. He removed his sword belt, and handed it to his adopted brother. "Take this. I'm going back to contact Carth and arrange some trade."

"We aren't finished for the day." Atilian pointed out.

"I think I am." Aleksandr smiled. "We both know that I'm more likely to stab myself than anyone else. I won't be coming back tomorrow."

"This could save your life one day." Atilian said sternly.

"I survived living with Ekaterina for nearly all of my life, do you think I don't know how to take care of myself?" Aleksandr asked wryly. Atilian smirked agreement. "Sometimes being defenceless is a defence in itself. I'll see you later." Aleksandr saluted casually, and turned to leave. Atilian, left holding two swords, looked into the training room. New recruits... He had better get back to work.

* * *

"Summarise your report, Vail." Ekaterina ordered, gazing out of a crystal window into the vast cavern complex below. She could see slaves, former Trebesian dissidents, crawling in the muck of the bottom levels. Scrounging out an existence from the scraps tossed down to them. She grinned maliciously.

"None of the jungle groups or cities pose a threat. My report gives full details of how to go about nullifying all resistence." The face dancer bowed as it spoke. It wore the guise of a plain woman today, no exceptional features. "A strike against the southern pole cave system will root out anything left."

"And then I can turn my attention to larger affairs..." Ekaterina smirked. "You know the plan, Vail?"

"Rachael briefed me on the basics, M'lady, but I do not know the entire plan, no." Vail said tonelessly.

"I am going to leave a mark on this planet." Ekaterina said, turning around to face the room. Rachael and Alacia stood nearby, with Alonya Rabban just behind Vail. Dune and Douglas Pilru stood guard at either side of the visible door. "I am going to make it clear to the populance that I am here to stay, and I am going to prevent any thoughts of resistence. The population of Athalon IV is going to be purged." She stepped down from the window, making her way slowly to a chair, which she sank into with a smile. "Every family with three children will have its third killed. And family with five children will lose the fifth. And families with six or more children... Well they'll have to choose." She couldn't stop herself from grinning. "And those who refuse to choose... well they'll lose both." She leaned back, and took a drink from a table. "Anyone who protests will not be hamred, but every member of their family will lose a hand. I don't think anyone will protest. And just to make this even sweeter, it's all going to be carried out by the Trebesian military." She stopped, shivering with excitement. The feeling passed. "Fathers killing daughters, friend maiming friend, Trebesian against Trebesian and nobody will resist. Because then they will come to me. The army is ready. The purge will begin in mere days." She sipped her wine. "And then the real fun will begin."

* * *

"What did the Duke say?" Aleron asked immediately as Aleksandr entered their office.

"He told me to try for Ordos or Wallach." Aleksandr answered, avoiding his former aide's eyes. Moving over to his desk, he sat down. "I had not expected such ready agreement."

"And that's why you weren't afraid of proposing the idea."

"Exactly right."

The office was quiet for a moment, with only the calls and shouts of the city outside to interrupt. Aleksandr stared at his desk. Aleron fiddled with the spice paper in his hands. Finally, he pushed it toward Aleksandr.

"I had an idea while you were out." He said, as Aleksandr started to read. "The Strike family may have an unmarried daughter. Their House is in the process of industrialising, an alliance with the house holding Arrakis would serve them well. We in turn gain the support of a rising power in the Landsraad."

"It would certainly beat cousin Maya..." Aleksandr muttered agreement. "Very well, we'll contact the Baron."

Message to Carth Bindar:

With an official application to CHOAM (they will most likely demand some percentage of your earnings in exchange) you will be granted the status of a merchant guild. I have included with this message your first contract, should your application be successful. It details transportation of melange from Arrakis to various points around the Imperium, with the exception of Kaitan. The contract is with Duke Trebeis, rather than the Trebeis family, so any further concerns should be addressed to him. Best of luck,

Aleksandr.

Message to Baron Strike, of Tolnep:

House Trebeis seeks alliance through marriage with any daughters of the Strike family. Infomation is scarce, so if you don't have any please let us know. Details can be worked out in person, should that be desired. With respect,

Aleksandr Trebeis.

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Looking at the line of Chronos dictating the times of several important planetary capitals, Atiilian quickly found the one he was looking for. Next to the one designated "Arakeen" was Trebesia, Former Capital of Athalon. Smiling, he nodded "It begins now."

On Athalon, with the clocks hitting exactly zero hundred hours, Thousands of sleeper Cells of former Nokker Guardsmen came together. Arming themselves and meeting in predetermined places. Caches were opened, Ornithopters prepped and De-meks activated. Straping on the Nokker's weapon of choice, a No'kar'e and testing his sheild, a former Ducial Guard Captain thought to himself "The second Rebellion has begun!"

Attempting to sit up- and failing. The Duke thought to himself with disgust Not even abled to stand anymore without assistance. I have been reduced to the level of an infant! Despondantly, He called for the assistance of his Bodyguard, and immediatly orded him out of the room. Walking to the window he thought out loud "rediculous, I've nearly been assasinated thrice before, never had the enemy come so close to acheiving their goal. Only mounths before, I was abled to confidently walk without the need of assistants. Pathetic." His features slowly adopting a rather introspective look, he thought. perhaps I truely should hand over more responsability to Atillian... and Aleksandr, I daresay he seems to be overworking himself a tad already though....

Hours later, laying in bed. The Duke sighed contentedly, and smiled. The Duke Pareh Trebeis II quietly exited this troubled realm of existance. 

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Thinking of my reply. Girlfriend is coming over and I'll begin writing it in about 6 hours or so, so expect a reply tomorrow when you log-in.

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Hmm. I'm getting a nagging feeling of deja vu here. First my troops, now my planet. I thought you said this wouldn't happen anymore?

"Vail, you have some explaining to do." Ekaterina said mildly, looking down at a large map of Athalon IV. Parts of it were glowing red, while others were a milder yellow. The northern pole was black. Grouped around the room were all of the Eleven Elite that were not on Arrakis, as well as those Trebesians who had proven themselves capable and loyal to the new administration. Vail stood opposite Ekaterina, and nobody in the room failed to notice that this put a large, heavy table between the face dancer and his its mistress. Vail wore a calm expression, but was twitching nervously.

"As my report detailed, I did not investigate the polar regions in the south." It said slowly. "Granted, the strength of the equatorial regions may have been underestimated, but not to any significant degree. We realised that there were small pockets of resistence. Almost every group has a member of the Sepkul riding with them. They will see to it that this resistence is short lived."

"Your report did not indicate any possibility of resistence on such a scale." Ekaterina hissed, leaning forward on the map. Vail twitched.

"I may have made... an error..." It stuttered, but was cut off by a sharp whistling sound from Ekaterina. Immediately the Face Dancer slumped forward, but did not fall. Ekaterina glared at the comatose face dancer.

"He is far too useful to kill." She sighed, frustration evident in her voice. Nobody replied. "Vail, you have been reprimanded but allowed to live. Your mistress Ekaterina is not pleased with you." She ended with a slightly different sequence of notes, awakening Vail from its conditioning-induced trance. "Now, Alacia, what are our options, assuming that we meet the rebels head on?"

"Limited, M'lady." The leader of the Eleven Elite said tonelessly, her hand, as always, resting on the handle of her inkvine whip. "All of the troops at our immediate disposal are specialist Catrione mountaineers, they will find it diffcult in the south, unless we take them all the way to the southern poles. Of the Nokkars, perhaps two thirds have turned against us, and they hold most of the jungle cities, including Trebesia."

"So essentially, we are in for a long, tiring, expensive military campaign?" Ekaterina raised an eyebrow.

"If we use ground troops, yes." Alacia nodded. Ekaterina shrugged.

"Then we carpet bomb the equator from orbit." She decided. None of her personell blinked. The Trebesians looked shocked.

"Buh- carp-" One of them stuttered. Ekaterina smiled at him.

"Yes, Commander Melchett?" She asked sweetly.

"There are millions of people living on the equator!" The Commander protested, "Statistically, only half of them are rebelling! Trebesia is there, I have family..." He trailed off in the face of Ekaterin'as understanding expression. It was scarier than her habitual grimace.

"The orbital bombardment will begin in twenty four hours, Commander." She said calmly. "You have that long to rescue your family."

"What of the cities, M'lady?" A Trebesian General asked gruffly, trying to hide his own shock. "The revenue in tax that they generate-"

"Eighty percent of Athalon IV's revenue is generated by Catrione, with a further ten percent coming from the desert regions." Rachael stated. "The jungle cities, which are without doubt the largest on the planet, are almost without exception subsidised by those with smaller populations and greater trade. The constant repair works alone are estimated to take thirty percent of the city's capital. Removing it would almost certainly increase the net wealth of Athalon IV."

"Even better." Ekaterina smirked. "Well ladies, gentlemen, you had better get to it. Alacia, stay behind and help me co-ordinate this."

* * *

Aleksandr sat at his desk, looking glumly at the paperwork before him. Aleron sat to one side, while in front of the desk stood one of the old Duke's doctors.

"I suppose it would be redundent to ask if you are sure?" Aleksandr asked. The doctor nodded slowly.

"The Duke is, most certainly, dead." He answered quietly. Aleksandr nodded.

"Very well. Please do not inform anybody else of this for the next hour, I don't want rumours flying about. The same applies to your staff." He stood up slowly, tiredly. "I will inform Atilian personally. Thank you, doctor." The man bowed, and left. "Aleron, would you prepare a statement for the palace, please? To be given in two hours time."

"Of course." Aleron nodded, taking up a sheet of spice paper.

"It might be given by Atilian or myself, I don't know yet, so you may need to make it a bit vague."

"Alright."

Leaving the room, Aleksandr sighed to himself. Now that it had actually happened, he was beginning to regret his words to Atilian the day before. He hoped that the new Trebesian Duke would be in no mood to quibble. He doubted it.

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OOC: Carpet Bombing! Sheesh, you just have to kill all my chances don't you.  :P Oh and... "Thousands of sleeper Cells of former Nokker Guardsmen came together" Ekatanria would not of been able to subvert or kill these because they were off the record and unknown to anyone but the Trebesian Family and themselves. I also meant to ask, so is Athalon now formally Moratini? Or is it the personal fief of Ekatanria?

Trebesia was in uproar, apparently a Traitor working in the new military had made an attempt to retrieve his family, and stupidly he had taken an Ornithopter bearing the new Military

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"She's planning to do what?" Relnev asked sharply.

"Carpet bomb the Trebeisian Rebel forces along the equator of Athalon IV." replied the newly returned Eemins.  He had awoken on his first day back from Arrakis to astounding reports of Ekaterina's behaviour.

"This is insane even by her standards..." said Relnev, sounding somewhat at a loss.  "How is it I could have ever considered an alliance with that woman?"

Eemins didn't reply.

"I once thought her to be respectable in her ways; every force in this universe, after all, can't really be judged as 'good' or 'evil'.  It's the basis on which the Ix maintain neutrality among warring factions, dammit!"

"Sir?" Eemins asked, confused by his superior's change in emotion.

"Where do our blessed principles lie when faced with that demoness?" the Chancellor shouted.  "It's with people like her that I am forced to admit that there are forces out there who act continually against the best wishes of all others.  If that isn't 'evil', then explain to me what is!"

"There are many philosophical views, sir." Eemins said, maintaining his calm.

"Philosophy be damned!" came the reply, accompanied by slamming his fist on the desk he sat at.  "These are people's lives out there!  We can't ignore that!"

"You're not suggesting that we interfere?"

"I'm suggesting that it's about time we picked sides, Eemins."

Eemins thought on this for a moment.  "You do have the authority, sir... but is it the wisest decision to make?"

"Leave that for historians and archivists to ponder, Eemins." Relnev murmured.  "We have to do something about Ekaterina.  She is a force that cannot be left uncontrolled; she commands a power that if left unbridled could threaten the entire Imperium.  Others see it; let Ix be the first in this field as well!"

Message to Aleksandr and Atilian Trebeis:

[hide]Your reports of Ekaterina's activity on Athalon IV have shocked the Ix; we feel it is neccessary that she be stopped.  While we can offer no assistance to stop the bombing she plans, we will provide what we can in medical supplies and technology to help soften the blow.

The Ix are also willing to participate in an alliance to defeat and capture Ekaterina Moritani and reclaim Athalon IV, should such an alliance be formed.  She and her retinue of insane followers pose a threat to us all, and she must be stopped before it is too late.  We await only an invitation, friends.

On another note, I have heard rumours about the ex-smuggler Carth wishing to remove the Ixian Inhibitors we implanted?  If they are true, please advise him that this would be fatal; the Ix worked with the greatest Suks in the known universe to develop the treatment he is on... truth be told, that inhibitor is the only thing keeping him from falling dead on the spot.  Whatever reason he has for trying to remove it is not good enough, unless he no longer values his life.

Chancellor Relnev of the Ixian Council.[/hide]

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