The Memory of Sindal

On our way

Jump from star to star
A glorious past surrounds us
credits running low

A dinner party

Floating meet and greet
Over a desolate land
Champagne over flows

Fall and fly and fly and fall
As the city rises up

Date: 1105.162 (arrive at Drinax)

After fleeing the loving embrace of the Golden Queen, we brought Rao back to her father on Drinax (Tlaiowaha 2223).

Her father, the King, was very pleased to see her. She received good care on his floating palace and was soon back on her feet. And that is where things got sticky. Her father has a ship, and she wants us to pilot that ship. We would be flattered, but it appears that her father wants to use the ship for piracy. He is providing us with a Letter of Marque to disrupt trade.

His vision is to rebuild the Empire of Drinax. I can’t fault him for ambition. I guess having your whole planet inhabited by nobles, all of whom live in your palace, the pressure to rebuild the empire is pretty strong.

Rao wants us to do this because she trusts us to keep a secret. She has the ear of her father in this matters. I figure we better keep her happy.

We are here - Drinax

Drinax, here we are
Awake, sleeping beauty, arise
safe and sound at home

Trading our way home

Buying and selling
hop from planet to planet
she sleeps on

We are away

We fly among the stars
sleeping princess in her bed
surrounded by friends

Screw warders and jailers (Bernie)
And took the best prize of the lot

Date: 1105.31

Calli made a show

Calli, or someone who knows as much has she does, has made a show about twins being murdered at their boarding school. In it there is a character a lot like me called Bernie Laddox. It is a blockbuster, wildly successful in the Tobia subsector [it is made on Tobia (Tobia 3215)] and several nearby subsectors.

Rao suggested that we meet on Fist (Tobia 2918) to sort it out. In the Fist system, we head out to an asteroid belt on Sal’s ship, the Honest Mistake , to meet with Rao. Unfortunately we are shanghaied by Imperial Intelligence before we can get there. There were three of them:

  • Calli! She was is headed to Argona (The Borderland 2923) after they had delivered us.
  • A male diplomat who was heading back to Fist.
  • A doctor.
    They believed that one of us also worked for Imperial Intelligence.

The Golden Queen will host a show trial

Next thing you know, we wake up in the dungeon of the Golden Queen, on Yggdrasil (Yggdrasil 0815). That women has a serious barbarian fetish. When I say ‘on Yggdrasil’, I actually mean ‘over Yggdrasil’. The dungeon is in the bottom of her palace. Her palace is an asteroid. The asteroid is in geosynchronous orbit, at the top of a beanstalk down to the planet below. If only we could chop down that beanstalk.

We are slated for trail by combat. There isn’t much chance of us being found innocent, which means we would die. So Archie befriends a guard from Ace (Sindal 1719) called Wilv. He’s good like that. With Wilv’s help, we break out. We get into a bit of a scrap with some guards in a torture chamber (As I said, a serious barbarian fetish).

We find Rao strapped to a rack, being tortured. There is a cage strapped to her leg where small animals are eating her alive. She is unconscious and looks seriously hurt. You know, up until that point, I thought that maybe Rao had planned all this. Shopping us as the killers would certainly get her of the hook. After all, I considered shopping her to the Golden Queen in return for being set free, but I didn’t get a chance. Also, the others weren’t keen.

With Wilv’s help, we find the Honest Mistake and get out of there. Rao isn’t looking good, but being with us has to be better than getting your leg chewed off by space rats.

Trial by combat

Imprisoned in rock
accusation of murder
most unfounded

It's great to hear they're doing well (Bernie)
But I don't live that way

At the end of my trail on Attee (Tobia 3116), when the judge announced my sentence, I called out “But I’ll miss my ten-year reunion”. It was a throw-away line, a fuck-you to the court. I never really expected it to have any effect. It turned out that the Judge was an Old Dunkletonian and thought that my 10-year reunion was something I definitely shouldn’t miss. I was on my honour to return for sentencing (where ‘my honour’ meant an electronic bracelet and a huge man named ‘Pete’ who accompanied me everywhere.)

If not for the judge, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the reunion. It was always going to be tough. I knew that. Even after the judge’s offer, I thought about not going. However, it was probably my best chance to find some help to stay out of jail.

Almost everyone was there. I didn’t see Jase and I didn’t see Raw, but the others were there. Rao was there. Even the ‘filthy Lucernes’ from Lucerne House were there, having their own reunion in another part of the building. I probably should have joined them.

It was weird. When we were with other people, we talked about the usual stuff. When we were alone, we talked about the twins. We had to because Calli wanted to do a story on it. Calli wanted to interview as many of us as she could. She always loved a good gossip, and this was the biggest gossip of all, it seemed. She had footage of everything at school, including the Poston House end of school bash. In the background, Kaz saw one of the twins landing and setting up their tent.

During the interviews, she let slip that there were security tapes at the lodge, and they were probably still there. We should have twigged. People went to the hunting lodge to let their hair down, to do business that couldn’t be done anywhere else, to have affairs. Why would there be security tapes? Especially ten years later.

We didn’t want to take the risk, I guess. We headed out to the lodge and Kaz and I broke in. Calli was waiting for us. Well, not us exactly – she was waiting to see who turned up. We probably could have brazened it out if we hadn’t been wearing balaclavas. As it was, I took Calli’s phone while Kaz loaded a revolver. I swear, for a minute I thought she was going to shoot her. That’s just what I needed – concurrent sentences on two different worlds.

Calli didn’t seem to think about what might happen when she discovered us. She took off and we raced back to school. We grabbed her computer and we deleted what we needed to. On the last day of the reunion we gave her back her computer and someone bought her a new phone. Kaz even wangled her a job at a newspaper or something. Not sure how she did that.

It was funny, you know. I didn’t really find any real help amongst my school mates, but I did find something else. Calli’s theory was that the twins had been killed as part of a plot by Rao’s father in his battle against their mother. Not a lover’s tiff – they were king and queen of somewhere out there. It was political. Rao never denied it.

As I went to pack my bags, I found an envelope on my pillow. Inside was a new identity, a mining contract and passage to Torpol (Tlaiowaha 2221). My boys had come through! They owed me a share in a ship for my part in the great escape. They’d given me something better – a new life awaits me in the Reft-world colonies. For a split second I thought about setting it aside, going back to Attee and doing my time. Yeah, right! Like that’s going to happen.

I remember the end of school (Burnie)
Felt like the start of something bigger

1085: After exams ended, but before the results have been published, Rao Mubaraka invited all of our year from Poston House up to a hunting lodge owned by a friend of her father. The hunting lodge is situated in the mountains with a large area of private forests and lake.

There were about 50 of us there for the week, so there was enough space to be yourself and be with someone else. I loved it – I was so happy. We talked about everything, but mostly about what we were going to do now that school was over. University, military academy, travel… We wanted it all.

We had a great time, right up until the end. The only ripple was when Jodrum (one of the Princesses) slapped a local Aslan servant. The boy looked ready to tear him apart until Kysil stepped in and saved the prince. He said something like “I acknowledge your dominance over this human”.

Everything comes to an end. Most people had left at the end of the week. A group had gone hiking into the mountains: Mucca, Spud, MJ, the twins and someone else. There were a few of us who were getting picked up the next day. Rao came in and said, “Look what I’ve found”. Behind a bookcase was a hidden gun rack, well stocked by the looks of it. There was no-one else for miles – what harm could it do? We all picked a weapon and went out the back, picked out a target and let rip. That was when the screaming started.

Behind our target, through some shrubs was a tent, one of those high-tech light-weight hiking tents with active camouflage built in. Inside was Jodrum, dead, being cradled by his twin, Lisya. She saw our weapons and our stricken faces and screamed at us. “My Mother will kill you! They will hunt down your families and kill them, too. They will find everyone you have ever loved and wipe them out, as though they had never existed.”

Rao stepped forward and shot her! There was nothing else she could do, but it was still a shocking act. Lisya and Jodrum were the heirs of the Golden Queen of Yggdrasil (Yggdrasil 0815). As Rao pointed out, “Do you really think you could stand against a Queen with the resources of a whole planet behind her?”

We burnt the bodies in the lodge incinerator. At midnight we rowed out and sank any remaining traces in the lake. It was. perversely, a beautiful moment: the calm lake, the endless sky. We swore never to talk of this again. As the song says, “Bigger than the sky at night in your big backyard”.

The next morning, a ships boat arrived accompanied by four angelic bodyguards. Something had happened to Rao’s brother and she was summoned home. She turned to Jase and threw him her car keys. “Happy birthday”, she said.

It was a week before they were missed. It was 29 parsecs from Yggdrasil to Hradus (Tobia 2714). We were long gone by the time the Golden Queen arrived.