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23 January 2013 @ 05:58 am
FIC: Sunthief in a Sailor Suit - 1/1  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Sunthief in a Sailor Suit
Part: 1/1
Rating: PG
Configuration: /
Warnings: creepy child psion
Word Count: 3.000 / 3.000
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Master Ulysses, Lady Elayne
Summary: In the middle of SW II, the Guildsraat has to negotiate with the newly founded Psions’ Guild, learning that from now on, things will be a little different…
Feedback: Yes, please!





“And now for the next point on the agenda- the address of the head of the wannabe psions’ guild in favor of reconsideration of his rejected petition for full guild status and a seat at this table.”

Captain Adams of the spacers’ guild snorted derisively and put her booted feet onto the conference table. “Do we really have to go through this? Why is this bollocks even on the agenda?”

“Because I put it there.”

All eyes in the room turned to Mistress Anais, the envoy of the courtesans’ guild, who had until then sat in her corner, sporting a politely attentive expression like a secretary. Now she rose and straightened her pencil skirt suit, her face serious.

“We want to hear what they’ve got to propose.”

“Are you high?” it burst out of Captain Adams. “What makes you think that wacky club of charlatans has anything we could want?”

“Intelligence suggests they are not all charlatans,” the courtesan informed evenly. “And that they are not demon-ridden madmen, either, as the church would want us to believe. They... might be a power we’d rather see as fellows than as enemies.”

“You can’t be serious.”

But the spacers’ remark was only met with pokerface expressions all around the board table.

“Goodness!” she finally exclaimed. “Alright, go on, let them talk, but I promise you this will be a disaster!”

With a theatrical sigh, she leaned back in her chair, picked out a toothpick and started chewing on it, while an aide called in the leader of the psions.

But whatever the assembled Guild Masters had expected, it definitely hadn’t been the two people who entered the boardroom.

First was an elderly woman in a pale, gray-rose gown, her bony fingers clutching a matching purse. A triple lion brooch on her shoulder identified her as member of House Windsor. She seemed frail despite her ramrod-straight posture, but her gray eyes were sharp and calculating.
At her side was a boy of no more than ten years, his wavy dark hair slicked back neatly. He wore a sailor suit, of all things, and yet his bearing was so self-confident it had nothing childlike. An odd couple to say the least.

Mistress Anais walked around the conference table and curtsied gracefully. Then she rose, laughed, and embraced the woman.

“Lady Elayne,” she said, kissing her on both cheeks. “you look radiant. It’s been such a long time.”

“Too long, indeed.”

“Are you going to speak for the Psions’ Guild?”

“No.” She smiled faintly. “I am well aware that my words carry no weight here as a woman of noble birth. I am merely here to accompany my godson, Master Ulysses.”

“That child?!” it burst out of Commander Blackbriar, the mercer guildmaster. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“Please, Commander, watch your language. There are ladies present.” the boy said evenly, his voice so firm and clear it almost sounded typed. “And no, Commander, no one intends to make any fun of you. I come invested with full negotiating powers.”

“Give me one reason I should not blast you out of existence, kiddoh.”

“Do not threaten me.” Ulysses declared so evenly it sounded void of emotion. “I do not like to be threatened.”

“I am still waiting for my reason.”

“I should think the utter lack of any blaster should make any blasting rather difficult.”

With a startled look, Commander Blackbriar reached for the holster at his side, only to find it empty.

“What the fuck?!” he bellowed. “Where is my gun?!”

“It’s in a safe place.” Ulysses replied with a faint note of boredom. “Can we please come to the -”

“You little freak!” it burst out of Captain Adams, finally prompting her to take her feet off the table. “Here, Griswold, have mine.”

With a smooth gesture, she took one of her blasters out of their holsters and threw it right across the conference table. But it never arrived on the other side, instead it disappeared mid-flight with an audible pop.

“You little shit!” she snarled, aiming her other blaster at Ulysses. “You can’t just come in here and - “

In the middle of her sentence, the blaster in her hand disappeared, leaving nothing behind but thin air.

“Enough!” This time, it was Commander Blackbriar who snapped. “Guards, get those fools out of here!”

For a long moment, nothing happened.

“Guards!?”

The various members of the guildsraat looked around questioningly, only to have their question answered with resounding silence.

“I took the liberty of removing any non-essential staff,” Ulysses informed them smoothly. “I can assure you they are unharmed and in a safe location. Can we continue now?”

“You think you can come here and threaten us?!” Master Blackbriar was livid. “I will - “

“Send in reinforcements until you have no one left? Hit me with a bomb that can never explode fast enough to catch up with me? Trick me into an ambush that I knew about the moment you had the idea? I don’t think so, Griswold.” Still smooth and measured, there was a chilling note of anger that was creeping into Ulysses voice. “And just so we are clear here. I came here with an offer, willing to explain what should have been obvious. And YOU threatened us. I merely removed the distractions. If I had threatened you, you’d have noticed.”

The members of the guildsraat answered him with stony silence, so Ulysses took it as a cue to continue.

“See, if I had been threatening you, I’d have said something like - you don’t need your sun any longer, do you? Or what about your jumpgate? But that would have been so blunt, wouldn’t it be? I’d rather say something like - Oh, look at that tiny relay I stole out of the Guild Cental jumpgate. You think you can find the place I took it from before everyone here is starved?”

“You wouldn’t do that!” The guildmaster of the Engineers exclaimed, his face almost matching the tone of the gray labcoat he was wearing.

Ulysses nodded politlely. “You are right, I wouldn’t. And for a very good reason. We are here to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement.”

“And how would we benefit?” Director Browne of the moneylenders asked so eagerly that several of the other guild members couldn’t suppress a soft chuckle. “What does your wannabe guild offer that we don’t have ourselves yet?”

“100% reliable stock market predictions for you, Master Browne.” Ulysses smiled coldly, knowing exactly what he was offering there. “Lady Elayne, would you mind?”

“The P2 fishmongers’ guild index will hit 1200 points today, at precisely 11:32 am and 17 seconds.”

“Now that’s a rather cheeky prediction.”

“It is not a prediction, Director Browne. It is a fact.” Lady Elayne smiled with what looked like deep melancholy. “Nothing you or I can do will change that.”

“You don’t really believe that.” The moneylender seemed doubtful, but also very intrigued.

“You are welcome to try.” Again, Elayne sounded oddly sad. “But I can assure you it will be an exercise in futility, maybe even in humility.”

He only snorted in reply, obviously eager to take on the challenge. When he took out his mobile phone, Ulysses spoke up again.

“Now that we’ve got something to play for Director Browne, we shouldn’t forget the rest of you.” Nodding politely to the head of the crafters’ guild, he continued. “Artisan al’Hamsa, for your guild, we can offer any material, at any quantity. And if we say any material, we mean it.” Gesturing towards the table in front of her, a small sphere of some silver metal appeared out of thin air on top of her papers. “You’re a goldsmith, right? I’d love to see what you can do with moon silver.”

The elderly woman chuckled. “That’s just a fairytale, honey.”

“Not any longer.”

For a heartbeat, Artisan Al’Hamsa tried to seem unimpressed, but then her natural curiosity took over and she snatched the metal off the table, inspecting it through her wide-framed glasses.

“And to you, Constructor Balardieu, we offer the literal hook in the air - we can hold almost arbitrary forces in place, if only temporarily so. But as far as I know, that’s what your profession has been looking for since its beginnings, didn’t you?”

Not waiting for any reply, Ulysses continued, neatly following the seating order around the large conference table by addressing the Engineer next.

“Magister Rønson, what about the creation of nanite seeds without the need for microscopes? Instantaneous communication with anyone in the empire for you, Mogul Ashkelon? Psionic protection against the obvious psionic threat, Commander Blackbriar? No more surprises for you, Magnate Wolfhagen, because we can tell you exactly where to drill? Instantaneous transport to anywhere in the empire for you, Chairman Jabalpur?”

“Transport is our monopoly,” Captain Adams snapped immediately. “If you so much as carry an egg to market, you’ll regret that, you little shit.”

“Captain Adams.” Despite the insult, Ulysses seemed absolutely calm, if anything he was a little more cordial than before. “For the spacers, I have two offers, actually. The boring one is the fact that you’ll have no more empty runs ever, because we can bring your ships to wherever they are needed in but a blink.”

“You’re right, that’s boring.”

“But between the two of us, I think you’ll be much more interested in what we will take away from you.” Smiling, he added: “We will never be able to facilitate any kind of mass transport, neither people nor goods, so don’t worry about your monopoly. The only thing we will be transporting will be nervous nobles with more money than patience and those pesky perishables that you can’t possibly ever put on a ship for a month.”

There was something like a dirty smirk in the corner of her mouth when Captain Adams nodded.

“And of course, all those services I just mentioned are just a small fraction of what we can offer, and will be available to you at a unique inter-guild discount of 85%.” Ulysses concluded, folding his hands on the table. “Any questions?”

“One.” Commander Blackbriar nodded politely, acknowledging Ulysses if not as an equal, then at least as someone he was willing to do business with. “If it is true, and you are as powerful as you say - why the fuck do you even bother?”

Ulysses smiled widely. “If you ask questions like this more often, Commander, your carefully maintained facade of bumbling fool won’t last very long.”

Captain Adams gave a snorting laugh. “He’s on to you, Griswold!”

The head of the mercers’ guild indulged in a small grin of his own before he turned his attention back to Ulysses. “Still waiting.”

“Of course we have considered our options, Commander. And I would be lying if I said we didn’t consider using this current war and installing us as the ruling elite of this empire. And we would have had a chance, yes. But that would not be what we want.”

“So what do you want, then?”

“Simply put? To belong. Our members represent the overwhelming majority of psions, and we are sick and tired of hiding. Contrary to common belief, most of us don’t want to rule the world, and we don’t want to steal your children. We want to be what we are, publicly, not having to fear being burned at the stake for it. We want jobs from nine to five. We want to be just as respected or feared or admired as the next butcher or secretary. We want homes, families, careers. We want to belong. Because after all, we are just humans.”

Silence spread in the conference room as everyone seemed to ponder Ulysses’ declaration.

“That makes a lot more sense,” Commander Blackbriar finally said, slowly coming to a conclusion. “Don’t get me wrong, Junior, I still think you’re shady as fuck, but that’s putting you at the same level as almost everyone else at this table.”

Captain Adams gave a snorting laugh.

“Rendering your services publicly available will serve you quite effectively in this regard.” Mogul Ashkelon of the Entertainers admitted, quite impressed, with a brilliantly white smile. “Of course we should talk about the most effective way to start your marketing campaign.”

“85% for all services rendered to other guilds? Did I hear that right?” Director Browne asked incredulously. “That’ll leave you with hardly any profits.”

“All the more reason to believe that we’re not in for the money. Make no mistake, we’re still going to make a profit, but not at any price. More importantly, we want you to see that we could be good for you, making all our businesses more interesting and more profitable at the same time.” Turning towards Captain Adams, he added: “Or less annoying, for some of us.”

“I assume you’ll be adopting our guidelines to avoid political entanglement in armed conflicts?” Commander Blackbriar asked.

“Yes, though with one exception.” Ulysses replied. “We are officially supporting House Dracon’s bid for the throne.”

This brought a burst of unbelieving chatter all around the table.

“Why the hell are you doing that?” Commander Blackbriar asked. “House Habichtswald has its own resources, most of the imperial fleet AND the support of House Andragor!”

“And House Dracon has the unlimited support of both the Aroona and the Psions’ Guild.”

“The Aroona?!” Suddenly, Envoy Anais seemed to remember she was present, after all. “What do they have to do with this?”

“Everything. There will be a psions’ guild, a Dracon emperor and a Temple Aroona, or none at all.”

“Who are these Aroonas, anyway?” Artisan al’Hamsa asked, slightly taken aback at Anais’ unusually venomous tone. “What’s the problem with them?”

“They’re a sect founded by a bored noble, preaching free love and cookies for all.” Anais’ voice was basically dripping with disdain.

“Poaching in your territory, Anais, aren’t they?” Captain Adams asked with friendly mocking. “How many people can such a handful of priests possibly fuck, huh? Grow some balls, dear, we all knew this wouldn’t go without us having to swallow the occasional toad. And you folks swallow close to anything, anyway.”

“So funny, Tonja, so funny.” It was very obvious that Anais’ wasn’t laughing. “I thought we had an understanding, Elayne? What is this?”

“An understanding?” Lady Elayne replied, unsmiling. “You mean you thought you had me where you wanted, after you bartered the insights you got from me for a place on this council? Oh, please don’t give me that heartbroken look, dear. On someone of your profession, it looks positively pathetic.” Perfectly graceful, Lady Elayne turned around to Director Browne and asked smoothly: “By the way, how’s the stockmarket coming along, Director?”

The head of the moneylenders’ guild glowered at her, entirely unamused. “You were wrong by two seconds.”

“Then I’d have your watch checked. I am never wrong.”

“Alright, kids,” Commander Blackbriar stopped the discussion before anyone else could say more. “This is starting to degrade into petty bickering, and we still have a lot to do. Anyone not in favor of accepting the psions as a proper guild?”

All around the table, the hands remained down.

“Good. Congrats, Junior, your folks now officially is a guild.”

“A full seat at this table.” Ulysses reminded him of the second demand his guild had made.

“Out of the question,” Commander Blackbriar replied firmly, almost fatherly. “Listen, you’ve gotten a lot more today than anyone else would have managed. Be happy and try to deliver what you’ve promised, and in twenty, maybe thirty years, we’ll talk about a seat.”

“Okay.” Ulysses replied with suspiciously little objection. “So we will have to join one of your guilds, isn’t that so?”

“Absolutely.”

“As far as I understand, that would mean we join as a subguild of the mercers, right?”

“That would be a smart choice.”

Ulysses’ wide smile was the epitome of perfect youthful innocence.

“So you are aware that it would be you then, sitting on the lap of Patriarch Hesemedes for the next years, explaining him why exactly you think you could freely offer services heretic he has proclaimed heretic, punishable by burning at the stake?”

Commander Blackbriar’s expression changed rapidly from surprised to angered, from thoughtful to amused and back again. Finally, he turned away from Ulysses and addressed the guildsraat again.

“Anyone not in favor of granting them their goddamn fucking seat?”

Once again, all hands remained down.

“You drive a hard bargain, Junior.”

“Thank you, Commander Blackbriar.” Suddenly, a sheet of paper appeared in Ulysses’s hands, and it took the head of the mercers’ guild a moment to realize that it was his copy of the itinerary for today. “I think the next point today is the dispute between the Shirazan brandywinemakers’ guild and the Shirazan destillers’ guild?”

“Next point is you little beast returning our guns and our guards.” Captain Adams growled, though this time it sounded rather amused.

“Oh. Sure.” For a split second, Ulysses looked genuinely guilty before he smiled and shrugged. “Done. Though I allowed myself to put the guards in front of the building, so they will have a moment to cool their heads before they come in here and do anything rash.”

“Not a bad idea.” Commander Blackbriar nodded. “Now we call in those moonshiners?”

“Who’s writing the protocol, actually?” Ulysses asked, getting a little more comfortable on his seat while Lady Elayne remained standing behind him.

“Always the youngest member, always the youngest.” Captain Adams replied instantly with a fiendish grin. “Welcome to your new job for the next forty years, Junior.”


 
 
 
darkblue_icedarkblue_ice on January 23rd, 2013 06:19 am (UTC)
Ooooh the beginning of how Dracon's house got so much power!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 23rd, 2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
Well, it is ONE of the many reasons that led to the Dracon seizing the throne. We will definitely get to see other bits and pieces of this time every once in a while, so we will get to learn how it all fit together in the end.

Thanks for commenting!
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on January 23rd, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
I love how smart and sophisticated the boy is, and his cunning in outwitting, manouvring the situation to his advantage.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 23rd, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the compliment! I wasn't so sure, I was a bit worried that Ulysses didn't come across as cool as he always is in my mind. :D
It seems I managed, though, so thanks again!
idolme922idolme922 on January 23rd, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC)
What a clever little shit indeed!! is this the beginning of the house Dracon? I love the way you accomplish a backstory!! *bows down*
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 24th, 2013 05:07 am (UTC)
House Dracon began a few hundred years earlier, when they were still householders to - but that is another story, to be told at another campfire, many, many moons from now. ^^

This story is just a snippet showing both Ulysses first public appearance (we will get to meet him as a grown up together with Yaden at some point) and one of the reasons SW II played out it did.

Is it weird that I still think of him as clever little shit when he's in his sixties?
peony_blackpeony_black on January 23rd, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
Is it creepy that I don't find 'Junior' creepy? I think he's rather awesome. I love how much this feels like a corporate board meeting where they have super-powers and the such :D
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 24th, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)
I think awesome is a great substitute for creepy.

And well, it IS a boardmeeting of people with superpowers (at least some of them), so I seem to have gotten my point across. ^^

Thanks for commenting!
peony_blackpeony_black on January 24th, 2013 06:31 pm (UTC)
Well, it sure is close to some I've attended, only there'd be me with the super-powers, employing them for evil, lawyerish purposes, such as to cover my own ass *smiles serenely*
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 24th, 2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
:D Thanks for the visual ^^

I have to admit I stole bits and pieces from the board meetings I attended, only that those usually go a lot less orderly...
peony_blackpeony_black on January 24th, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I thought so. That's insider knowledge. ;)
Milady OMlady_om on January 24th, 2013 02:31 am (UTC)
Ok, lesson learned. Don't fuck with psions :)

Welcome to your new job for the next forty years, Junior.
Serves him right :P

There will be a psions’ guild, a Dracon emperor and a Temple Aroona, or none at all.
Why is that?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 24th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC)
Most psions have utterly useful talents, like, projecting green spots on a wall. But some few, you know... Just wait until we get to 'The Psions War', then you'll meet the really dangerous guys. ^^

There will be a psions’ guild, a Dracon emperor and a Temple Aroona, or none at all.

The reason for this may be a huge spoiler, so I won't say anything right now. Let's just say neither of the three could have survived without the two others. I really have to write that one ficlet about how Rasputin almost killed himself when playing with demonist rituals...
BerthaBlueberthablue on January 25th, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
I love it! Ulysses is an awesome little kid. Only slightly creepy. I love how he ever-so-calmly threatens to steal their sun. What a fucking rockstar.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 26th, 2013 05:29 am (UTC)
Oh yes, fucking rockstar indeed! Can I borrow the expression?
I am so looking forward to the story where we get to see him and Yaden working together...
Rockstar, tehe...
BerthaBlueberthablue on January 29th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC)
Definitely! Feel free to borrow at will. Him and Yaden working together will be awesome. But then, all of the Phoenix Empire stories are awesome, so... bah. I never know which ones I want first!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 30th, 2013 07:46 am (UTC)
What a luck the posting schedule is something WE decide, then. ^^
hab318princesshab318princess on March 5th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
wonderful... I could just hear Captain Adams there... brilliant
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on March 6th, 2013 01:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear! It was great fun writing this, especially knowing that adult Ulysses will make quite a few appearances in Yadens stories later on.

Thanks for commenting!
Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainenmissingkeys on May 14th, 2013 03:23 pm (UTC)
I totally missed this, but it's glorious. :) Ulysses is an excellent character, and while I have no idea of the significance of it I love the sailor suit. Great work, lovely!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on May 16th, 2013 09:37 am (UTC)
Well, the sailor suit is mostly a leftover from the time and style pre-SW II, but it's the image the public will keep of him, even when he's leading the Psions' Guild fifty years later. ^^

Thanks for commenting!