Episode 4 — The Drowned City

About a week has passed when NeVaga is called to Cumulus Station to meet with her uncle. After getting news of the aftermath of her recent efforts, Valkoln Nolent mentions that he has heard that Lady Aquilegia plans on leaving Byzantium Secundus before the Avestite “peacekeepers” show up. He asks NeVaga whether she will get advanced notice, as he has some cargo he would like NeVaga to move under these circumstances. He will need 48 hours notice to get these “small objects” to NeVaga, which he says she should not mention to Baroness Aquilegia. NeVaga promises to do her best.

About a week has passed when NeVaga is called to Cumulus Station to meet with her uncle. After getting news of the aftermath of her recent efforts, Valkoln Nolent mentions that he has heard that Lady Aquilegia plans on leaving Byzantium Secundus before the Avestite “peacekeepers” show up. He asks NeVaga whether she will get advanced notice, as he has some cargo he would like NeVaga to move under these circumstances. He will need 48 hours notice to get these “small objects” to NeVaga, which he says she should not mention to Baroness Aquilegia. NeVaga promises to do her best.

Back at the Masseri “embassy”, a visitor in the livery of the Knights of Amalthea shows up for Aquilegia. He gives his name as Simon Bray; he has thinning hair, is deeply tanned, well-toned and muscled. He is from Holy Terra and is going to Agora to protect the Amalthean mission. He says he brings a message: someone wishes to meet her tomorrow in the Brother Battle wing of the Cathedral of St. Maya. He asks her not to let the Nolent know about the nature of the meeting.

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Aquilegia leaves for the Holy City before NeVaga returns, and visits the cathedral the next day. She notices that there are many Brother Battle in town, supposedly for minor Brother Battle holy day. She is taken to meet with Sister Theaphana al-Malik. Sister Theaphana asks a few questions regarding NeVaga and says she may have some problem with the Nolent, though Aquilegia is known to have easy dealings with aliens. She takes Aquilegia to meet an elderly Ukar named Maat; Theaphana and Maat speak Ukar among themselves.

Maat’s community lives in old semi-submerged Second-Republic buildings in the Holy City; Scravers (all human so far) are trying to evict them. There is no sight of House Nolent involvement yet. Aquilegia is a little skeptical of Sister Theaphana’s candor, but agrees to help the Ukar community. She vouches for NeVaga’s Ukar sympathies over her League duties, and tells Maat she and NeVaga will visit Ukartown.

After stopping to say hello to Bishop Demijanik (and provide a reason for her visit), Aquilegia returns to the Imperial City and talks to NeVaga. The bodyguard confirms that she is Ukar first, Scraver second, so Aquilegia shares the story. NeVaga is angry that her people are being mistreated.

Both return to the Holy City next day. They disguise Aquilegia, take passage to Ukartown with Vjordnik the boatman, and NeVaga questions him. They learn that two months ago, people systematically started beating up Ukari from Ukartown when they come to the mainland, telling them to move. The Ukar Council advised patience until the humans forgot their latest grudge, but in vain. About a week ago, a group of flitters landed on the top floor and poured out forces that beat up the residents, telling them they had two weeks to leave. NeVaga examines the place, determines this was some research facility, and perhaps and instructional facility.

Aquilegia hires Manager Nathalie Snave, a Reeve, now on retainer. Manager Snave uncovers info on the buildings: this was an old First Republic IOPEC research facility into jumpship dampening systems, then later operated by House Hamid as a private research facility before House Cameton overthrew the Hamid. Soon after, the area was flooded and abandoned, and the Ukar moved in; they have been there for a couple of hundred years. Dame Dana Bray of House Cameton nominally holds title to the property (this name rings a bell for Aquilegia.) Fellow Tuti Leomand of the Scraver Guild has also been looking into the records.

Aquilegia goes to take care of a number of routine tasks for House Masseri, then to the Agora to check on the Amalthean mission (and to shop for some diving gear). She speaks to Simon Bray, asks whether Dame Dana Bray is a relative; he says it’s possible, but his branch of the family was disowned and moved to Holy Terra a long time ago.

Meanwhile, NeVaga gets information about Fellow Leomand, discovers that she is a recently-promoted specialist in technology recovery. She also finds out that another Scraver operation is planned in five days — and that she has a job offer for some translation work for that day.

Aquilegia enlists Sir Thoktika'a Huvuru al-Dubhai’s help to replace Brother Simon Bray at his post so Bray can accompany her and meet with Dame Dana Bray. The latter turns out to be quite nice, trying in her own (somewhat patronizing) way to do the right thing. She greets Brother Simon cordially. Eventually, as the conversation winds, Aquilegia tells her of the Scraver incursion on her property, and Dame Dana is incensed. Her family has a long history of not interfering with the Ukar colony, but now she wants to rise to her responsibility. She asks that NeVaga act as an intermediary to obtain permission from the Ukar Council to station a Cameton garrison. NeVaga accepts.

After dropping off Brother Simon back at the Agora, Aquilegia and NeVaga return to Ukartown to meet with the Ukar elders. NeVaga makes a case for letting the Cameton troops be stationed, and Aquilegia tells the elders that by now it’s probably only a matter of whether they will be stationed somewhere useful and in time.

The elders asked the two guests to leave while they deliberate. As soon as they step out, something hits Aquilegia in the neck and she falls unconscious. NeVaga is furious, but the elders tell her they must speak with her without the human present, and show her something for her eyes only. They put Aquilegia on a boat and row her back to the mainland, while NeVaga is taken to see an underwater cache of weapons clearly meant for an Ukari revolutionary group. The residents could use these weapons, but they would betray their secret; and they fear that letting the Cameton garrison in would also lead to exposing the secret.

(To be continued…)


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