This one is a bit shorter than the last, also a bit nervous on the suddenness of it. Ultimately I hope readers understand that there's way more to war than regular strategies and who has the bigger guns. There's so much politics involved and this is my tribute to that side when it comes to League and Empire dealings. I hope you like this second chapter. We re-approach Sven from the first story in a different light. Thank you Traphik, Aire, Admonitor for permissions.
Imperial Professionals - Chapter II: The Insurance Agent
Guest Stars: Traphik with Special Appearance by Aire, The League Pirates, and Admonitor
Sina Vliet is a smart kid. She's a real live-wire and nosy to boot. I used to think she was the reason I always got into trouble. I even blamed her when I faced prosecution charges for twelve counts of murder and ten counts of abduction, don't worry we were declared innocent. I'm Sven, Sven Volkov. I was a reporter until I was reassigned far, far, far away from Vliet. I'm an 'Insurance Agent' of sorts. All I do is keep an eye on what the Empire deems as 'potential risks.' I keep them out of trouble and report to the guy that tried to arrest me. It's a terrible job but they wanted me die trying to do it, too bad I refuse to die out of spite.
"I wonder if they'll ever approve hazard pay for this one." Sven asked as he flipped through the file.
Risk Level: Red
'Risk Level: Red.' There was nothing safe about being assigned a Red.
Objective: 'Locate and determine Level of Endangerment to Imperial Property, Persons or Themselves. Then relocate subject to Nezebgrad to restore level Black Risk.'
"Yeah, sure, give everyone else the yellows, and oranges, give me all the reds, I don't need those last twenty years of my life expectancy. I love being declared a red myself because this job requires I track reds. Yes, more of this. No hazard pay, no help either! Yup, I love my job." Sven ranted to himself as he tossed the file on the desk.
"You better get packing. Finding him is going to be interesting. Last I heard he picked up a hit contract on a League Pirate." Colette, Sven's assistant, said as she dropped another file on his desk.
"'Hit contract?' What kind of security clearance did they grant him for this one?" he asked with a bitter tone.
"Well...Since you asked so nicely and seem so unaware." Colette began with the most fake sincerity in her voice Sven had ever heard. "Check out the target yourself. The Empire decided it's in it's best interest she be escorted to the Servant of Tenses' doors." Colette said her tone dying down to a mischievous one.
Sven looked at the second file.
Risk Level: Red
A picture was added of what looked to be a very elegant elf with a gentle smile, behind her an proverbial mob of wicked smiling faces. This picture was taken during one of the few recorded encounters that the Empire had managed to place as evidence against them, if ever captured. Along with wanted posters of Aire and several members of her guild.
"Wonderful. Aire. Only the face of not just any regular league pirates, you mean The League Pirates. You should have clarified that. Top Clearance? What the Tep was that guy thinking? Did he even bother looking at Traphik's file? The Arisen is a walking health hazard to anyone he gets into a fight with and all those within the kill zone radius. Could you please go ahead and fill out a request form for vacation when I return?"
"What dates would that be?" she asked.
"Two weeks from tomorrow." he said standing from his chair and walking over to get his coat from the coat rack.
"That's not very long, but of course, you are the best." Colette said walking towards the door.
"If I'm not back in two weeks, go ahead and fill out my K.I.A. paperwork." he added.
"I already have it ready, I just leave the Time of Death blank." she smiled.
"Thank you, Colette." Sven said, his tone never changing, Colette knew to be ready for anything.
Sven reached home and with him he packed as if he was leaving on an expedition. He already had an idea where to start looking for Traphik. Aire was in the Astral, that meant Traphik was in the Astral. Also meant Traphik was not alone, he wouldn't be stupid to take on such a high risk contract by himself. Least his file never mentioned he made such rash decisions. That is unless he's been captured. You think if he was just dead it'd be easier. No, so much red tape involved with Reds, he wouldn't be able to leave his desk for weeks. Sven sighed.
"He better not be dead." Sven decided.
First thing to do, get to the Astral. Second, find Traphik. Third, not die to pirates. Fourth, vacation. Sven played that back in his head while the icy cool breeze of the Astral whipped across his face.
"There's something liberating about being out on the Astral, don't you agree?" Said a smooth voice approaching Sven from behind.
Sven turned his head to see a tall intimidating robed Asiren stand beside him. Traphik. There is a god, Sven thought.
"Traphik?" Sven asked.
"Depends..." Traphik mumbled looking at Sven more closely.
"Sven Volkov, I was searching for you, apparently fate brought us together." reached out his hand in greeting.
"I take it you're from the Council?" Traphik said taking his hand and shaking it cautiously.
"In a ways, yes."
"Ah, so you're a pencil pusher?" Traphik chuckled taking his hand back.
"I'm an Insurance Agent. I'm here to make sure you return safely to Nezebgrad, there was a mistake in issuing your contract and it's been revoked." Sven explained holding out his hand.
"Why's that?" Traphik said taking out the contract to hand to him.
"You're too high a risk to do the job and shouldn't have been allowed to take it to begin with." Sven said taking it and eying the hit contract over.
"And your point? I'm already on my way." Traphik hissed snatching the scroll back and tucking it away.
"Even if you manage to kill the target you will not be paid because you are currently committing an illegal act." Sven continued.
"How is it illegal, when the Empire wanted her dead in the first place?" Traphik growled.
"Semantics are a [I Have a Potty Mouth] aren't they? Anymore questions?" Sven said shortly, time was in his favor yet somehow he felt it was still against him.
"Just one. Can you fly?" Traphik asked in a icy tone.
"Pardon?" Sven asked.
Before Sven could react, Traphik grabbed him by the pants leg and turned him over the rail of the ship. Sven felt himself flipped and fall helplessly over the side desperately grabbing the siding of the ship the pads of his fingertips and rubber soles of his boots keeping him in a very delicate position.
"Sorry Sven, illegal or not, Aire's as good as dead. I promise to keep the devastation small; if I let you live you'll be in my way. I can't have that."
Sven struggled and clung desperately to the siding, the winds slowly forcing him closer and closer to Purgatory.
"So throwing me over the edge was the best choice of action eh?" Sven shouted.
"Semantics are a [I Have a Potty Mouth] aren't they?" Traphik chuckled and walked away.
What a rookie mistake. I'm getting too comfortable. Sven berated himself. He slowly got out his knife and cut the straps off his bag, he cursed as he watched all his supplies fall into the crackling astral below. The only bit of comfort was that there was a port hole about twenty feet down the side of the boat, maybe he wouldn't have to let Traphik get away with outsmarting him. He slid down the hull carefully splaying his hands and legs to keep as much grip as possible. As he made it to the porthole he pounded it when an Orc opened it for him.
"What the Tep are you doing out there?" she demanded.
Sven paid her no mind and walked past her. He had no time now. Traphik knew he was after him. Why were they always difficult? Why could this be easy, it seemed easy. Luckily, Traphik couldn't leave the ship. That's about as easy as it was going to get.
Several hours later. The ship was docking to Asee Teph, and Sven as furious trying to hunt Traphik down. He sure as hell knew how to hide. Sven watched passengers get off, none of them Traphik. Good he was staying. Something wasn't right though. Several of the friendly smiling couples were gone, many of them seemed to dress differently as well. Olive pants and black shirts with boots on. Scarves and hats to cover their faces. Many of them dawned their masks on and began corralling the remaining guests. That's when he heard the PA:
"Ladies and gentlemen, it pains me to announce, you're all getting off this ship. We're borrowing it for the evening, and we wont be back to be picking you up. Please make other arrangements. Cheers!" and the PA cut out.
Traphik? Sven turned around and saw Traphik waving at him from the helm. Stealing an Imperial Ship. Keeping it small eh? People were being pushed and shoved off the ship by armed masked bandits, Sven assumed they were paid disposable mercenaries. Least I have a plan now. A mercenary pushed him.
"Get moving!" he ordered, a crossbow pointed at him.
"One second, I forgot my other set of clothes." Sven said bolting past him and down the deck, the mercenary cursed and gave chase.
Sven dived into a side corner and as the mercenary raced past him Sven gave him a quick blow to his kidneys and a second to the back of the head with the handle of his knife. The bandit fell motionless to the deck paneling. Sven dragged him to the dark corner.
Sven walked out dressed in the mercenaries clothes, a mask over his face.
"Found it." Sven chuckled and strode towards the helm where Traphik was.
Traphik was tapping his fingertips on the control panel. Sven could hear them talking down the hall as he approached. The head of the mercenaries was questioning the extent of the mission with Traphik, who had already looked like he was done talking and the mercenary was just getting started.
"So, you mind telling us where exactly we're heading?" one of the mercenaries asked.
"So many questions and concerns. I hired you because you say your men can handle anything. So we're halfway done and you're telling me they are paranoid?"
"We stole an Imperial ship. If we get caught, its not just a slap on the wrist." he argued.
"That's why we don't get caught. We do the job, abandon the ship on some random allod, the Empire will find it unharmed and we get away unharmed. Simple as that." Traphik said, plainly.
Sven knew better. The reason why Traphik didn't take his own ship was cause he didn't want any harm befalling his ship, nor whatever poor soul friend of his what would be dumb enough to tag along. Yeah, this was bad going up against over twenty league vessels already, but with these idiots? It's a suicide mission, and Sven was now along for the ride. Wonderful.
As they traveled Sven laid low, keeping an eye on Traphik and avoiding any of the other mercs, he knew that if he was caught, there was no more easy get ways. However there was never even one moment that Sven was able to get to Traphik alone.
"There she is! The League approaches!" shouted a voice from the port bow.
There was an alarm that sounded and Traphik's voice came over the PA:
"To your stations!" Traphik ordered.
Many of the mercenaries manned the cannons. There was hoots and cheers in the air while cannon fire sounded. They stopped when the League Pirates fire impacted the ship's port. The resonating impact deafened Sven and knocked him to the deck on his hands and knees.
They were turning the boat and Sven slid across the deck towards the starboard end. He got up and stumbled over to a unmanned cannon and fired. The League ship turned hard to the right towards them, the shot only grazing the hull. Sven cursed as he fired again, this time hitting the ship dead on. He then had to dive towards to deck when he saw the cannon fire fly directly at him. The explosion rendering him senseless.
He got up again and the boat took another turn in the opposite direction, making Sven slide towards the port side. The pirates on their stern were gaining. The freight ship took a dive in pitch to avoid collision, Sven grasped onto the side of the ship to keep from sliding again.
"Brace for impact." Called a random mercenary.
The League ship tapped the freighter and they quaked. The sounds of the hulls crying as the metal clashed. The freighter gained distance and rose, Sven letting go of the siding to slide back to a cannon. The freighter turned to the right, their port side along with Sven's cannon facing the League's deck directly. Sven fired and watched several pirates dive out of the way as the fire breached their deck.
Their cannons returned multiple direct shots that knocked Sven to the deck again and he slid an slammed into the wall leading down to the lower deck. The ship quickly then up-righted itself.
The League Pirates descended upon them en masse, Sven lifted his head to look at them and met a boot to the face. Everything went black. The last thing Sven remembered was the sound his jaw made and the distinct feeling that may had been him swallowing his teeth.
Sven awoke with the taste of blood and sitting Indian style his ankles crossed and his arms tied behind his back. He was grouped with all the other mercenaries together with Traphik on the deck. The League Pirates surrounded them keeping watch while several others scoured the ship's hull. Vienna, one of the pirates cursed and mumbled as he came up from the hull empty handed.
"They got nothing. It's an empty ship. Who comes all the way out here with an empty ship?" Vienna said glaring at Traphik. "Looks like a trap to me."
"I think you're giving them too much credit V." Azamisai, a rather flamboyant elven demonologist said, looking over Traphik. "Hey, don't I know you?"
Traphik gave Azamisai a wicked glare and suddenly his hands were free and around the elf's neck. The pirates panicked and took several of them to get Traphik under control. Azamasai punched Traphik in the gut and cursed him out in a foreign language.
"Enough!" demanded a voice.
The pirates held Traphik still while a youthful, graceful pale elven woman approached them. The only thing that wasn't white and gold she wore was a large purple feathered hat that she took off and placed nonchalantly placed on Azamisai's head who was still holding his neck. In her hand she was holding something that made Sven curse under his breath. His files.
"That's a terrible photo. While you have him restrained check him." Aire ordered, her tone matched her elegance as she gazed over Sven's documents.
"Let me, let me!" Azamisai said excitedly while the pirates held Traphik, Azamisai checked his robes.
"You're a sick one." Traphik hissed.
Azamisai kissed the air at him and pulled out the contract. "Ooo, lookey here, for me? Thanks love." he said and handed Aire the contract.
Aire glanced them over then flashed Traphik a smile.
"Oh Traphik, I didn't know you cared. Now which one of you is Mr. Sven Volkov?" Aire asked.
There was silence.
"I see... V do me a favor and throw a random off the side. If we keep chucking then we're sure to get Mr. Volkov eventually."
"I'm Sven!" Sven called out, trying to motion through his restraints.
"That's more like it. Take them in brig. The rest of them can stay." Aire said and turned her back.
"What are we gonna do with the ship?" Azamisai asked Aire, whose smile widened as she looked at Vienna to make the call.
"Light it up!" Vienna ordered and the pirates cheered.
Sven kicked and struggled as they were dragged to the League ship however Traphik just cursed as the cell doors were shut. Traphik quickly moved over to Sven and untied him.
"So you can fly?" Traphik chuckled as Sven got his hands free.
"You're in a good mood for a dead man." Sven snapped.
"No deader than usual, I'm not done yet. This is exactly what I needed." Traphik said happily looking over their confinements.
"Is it?" called Aire's voice called, as she walked up to the cell with the files in her hands. She sat down in a cushioned chair that seemed purposely placed just out of arm's reach of the bars, Sven's bag hung in her hand.
"Aire there's been a huge mistake." Sven began.
"Hold your breath." She said tossing the emptied bag at the bars for Sven to grab. "I read the file, a scout ship of ours just so happened to kill a demon who had your bag hooked on his horns. You're quite the man of detail." Aire complimented, closing the file and glancing at Traphik. "You're the one I'm worried about, I'm torn really. Maybe you can help me decide what to do with you." Aire said coyly.
"What did you have in mind?" Traphik returned the tone back.
"You see, right now my men are wiring that Imperial Freighter to detonate, I simply can't decide if I should put you back on it along with all your paid flunkies, or leave you in the arms of an Imperial Trash dump for the authorities to pick you up and charge you for hijacking a ship, seriously what were you thinking?" Aire said giggling at the Arisen.
"Really wanna know my pet?" Traphik said putting his metallic hands around the bars and pressing his face as close to Aire's as he could. Aire kept her distance.
"You see, I knew you'd do that cause you're just so freaking predictable, so I already wired the ship to explode any minute now. I don't get paid to kill you anyways, so if I manage to take out all your 'best-est best friends' out there, I'm sure the look on your face would be worth letting you live." Traphik seethed through his teeth.
The look of snide pride trickled like water from Aire's face and was replaced by horror as she dropped the file and rushed out of the brig. Seconds later there was an explosion and Aire flew back and hit the deck motionless from the force.
Traphik cackled as he pulled out a long thin wire from his mechanical wrist and picked the lock. "There's nothing like the sound of it all going according to plan." he said and with a click the lock released and the doors slid open. Sven rushed over and looked at Aire.
"Didn't take you for an elves person..." Traphik commented.
"You just destroyed a Imperial Freighter and assaulted a League ship and if it gets traced back to you you are aware the Empire will denounce any ties to you that may protect you correct? Also the fact we just encountered one of MANY ships Aire has at her disposal? They will not rest until they get her back and have your head on a chain that will dangle as astral demon BAIT!" Sven shouted angrily.
"Isn't it exciting?" Traphik said wickedly.
"Reds." Sven sighed picking her up and heading to the deck.
The freighter was in flames, pieces of it floating in all directions, the Pirates had docked them next to a stray allod and many of them laid unconscious on the shore while they were preparing to wire the freighter. The mercenaries had been moved temporarily to the allod and were all unharmed yet still tied struggling to get out of their restrains. Thoughts raced through Sven's mind. As dire as the situation was the biggest haunting feeling was the mountain of paperwork that was going to come from this. There was subtle temptation to strangle Traphik, however, that would just add to the pile. There was only a handful of options Sven had to keep the situation under control. He forced the unconscious elven captain into Traphik's arms.
"Alright, you gotta get out of here. Take their ship, get back to Nezebgrad now. I need to stay here." Sven said making his way over to the dock.
"You're gonna stay here alone with them? They'll kill you!" Traphik argued.
"I need to make sure they're all safe. Do me a favor go to Nezebgrad, tell them where we are, tell them I'm helping them. If we leave them like this the League will pull all the stops out and do nothing to get revenge, not even to mention all the pirates that will rain terror on Empire ships."
Traphik scoffed and turned away.
"If anything happens to Aire on the way back to Nezebgrad--
"I'm doing my job, no worries." Traphik hissed, insulted by Sven's words.
Traphik pulled away from the allod and Sven quickly combed over the wreckage. He untied the mercenaries under the very strict constraints explaining who he was and what would happen to them if they did not cooperate. He ordered them to gather the League Pirates and restrain them reasonably as Sven began to tend to their wounds. They had just been restrained and a few had begun to stir when Sven saw another ship approach the allod. Imperial.
When the ship came Sven swallowed hard to see two figures he had hoped to keep out of this: Astral Scholars Vicelich and Admonitor. Sven's heart dropped to his stomach when he saw Aire and Traphik both standing on either sides.
"Hey Vice." Sven greeted Vicelich, who walked past him quickly, clearly unamused.
"Let's just get this over with." Vicelich mumbled.
"I still don't know why we're doing this." Admonitor grumbled, holding a shackled Aire in tow following Vicelich to the pirates.
"Impressive..." Vicelich started, running a mechanical finger over a charred bit of wreckage.
"The sloppiness of my mission, I--
"I was talking about the explosion. Very impressive, Traphik." Vicelich smiled and made his way over to wounded.
"Thanks." Traphik smiled.
Aire mumbled something in Elvish and Admonitor tugged on her chains.
"You're lucky we're letting you go." Admonitor grumbled.
"You are?" Sven asked.
"Well we have to apparently. Traphik sent a distress call and we were the first to respond. You really should study the politics of war, Traphik. You were smart to stay and help Sven, we decided it was imperative to the Empire's best interests to be present and lend," Admonitor sighed. "Assistance."
"So you're not taking Aire back to Nezebgrad?" Sven confirmed.
"As much as we'd like to turn her in," Admonitor began. "Traphik illegally went after her. You should have had top clearance man." Admonitor said disappointed.
"I did." Traphik argued.
Admonitor looked at Vicelich who slightly shrugged.
"He did." Vicelich agreed his tone still relaxed.
"Regardless! It was revoked and if the League came at us with declarations of such and the Empire needs to justify it in writing to back up their support of it, etc etc... You screwed up basically. So, the elf gets a freebie." Admonitor rattled.
"Still doesn't make a damn bit of sense." Traphik huffed.
"The Empire revoked your top clearance not because they don't care about Aire, but because they should have known you were going to do something drastic like steal an Imperial ship, then blow it up for the sake of capturing her. That's frowned upon." Vicelich clarified as he eyed over an unconscious League Pirate.
"Semantics. Seriously. Semantics." Sven repeated.
"Rules of Engagement." Admonitor corrected.
"Politics." Vicelich said finally and waved his hand over Azamisai. The scratches and dirt seemed to melt away from his face and the color returned as the demonologist gasped desperately as he came to consciousness cursing loudly. Aire went to rush over to him and Admonitor reluctantly released the still shackled chains.
"We'll take it from here." Admonitor said, moving to the other wounded League.
I really hated that job. We were on that allod for the entire day while Vicelich healed the wounded and Admonitor threatened the lives of the pirates, the mercenaries, Traphik, and me if we ever told a soul he helped the League. I even lost a tooth over that mess. By the end of the day the Pirates were safe, we left them restrained on the allod as we pulled away, we figured they'd find a way out eventually. I made it back to Nezebgrad with Traphik and had him fill out the proper paperwork to restore his risk level to black. He complained the entire time about how paperwork was such a waste of time, that jerk had no idea what awaited me. I never left my desk for the next month. When I made the report I was lucky I wasn't blamed for the Freighter's damages. There was no way they could to be honest.
Aire and her crew laid low for a while, but no worries the reports of Imperial ship pillages skyrocketed after the short recess. Traphik as soon as he was off probation left the city to go right back out there on contracts. I'm guessing I'll be running into him again real soon. Reds will be reds always and forever. Much like a pirate will always be a pirate. Maybe they had more in common than just lust for treasure. Or was the treasure the freedom?
Last edited by ellynna
on Thu Sep 16, 2010 9:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Ellynna - Senior Officer aka HR Lady of Redemption
"Fama nihil est celerius... Veritas Lux Mea..."