05.10.3013: What's This...?
Summary: High Lady Eryn Arboren hosts a meeting concerning the Hostile attack and some artifacts found concerning this attack.
Date: 5 May 2013
Related: The Seen & Unseen
Eryn Cedric Michram Cambric Asher Nikomachos Brienne Lyrienne Marduke Thalo Tristan Sauveur 

Grand Rotunda, The Elder Seat, Arborenin
The edifice of the Elder Seat has been built around the tall, old, and stalwart tree known as the Wise Wood. It has been nurtured for millennia, and unique advances in botany have allowed the Paramount House of Arboren to shape the tree to their needs without fully interrupting its natural processes. The most evident of this is the Grand Rotunda — the main entrance hall of the Elder Seat. The cavernous antechamber literally bisects the tree's thick body, allowing for the room to be completely open without the interference of the trunk. Grand columns have been erected from floor to ceiling along the outer circumference of the room, however, to allow nutrients to continue to flow from the roots far below to the topmost leaves high above.

Everything about this room is natural and earthy from the oiled wood floors that integrate the Wise Wood's rings at its center, to the petrified wood that is used to construct the walls. Soft light glows from the ceilings, dimming and brightening based on the levels of natural light. The curved walls are almost entirely accented by large windows that provide breathtaking views of the Arborenin Woods, save for the wall that is directly across from the enormous entrance doors. This wide section of wall is occupied by a enormous staircase that leads up to the first exterior terrace of the Elder Seat, and thus to the rest of the Arboren's noble lodgings.

This room is almost never empty, looked after by patrolling guards when there is not a celebration taking up the expansive area of the rotunda.

May 10, 3013

It is early evening in the seat of the Arboren. Though the sun is still making its final descent to the horizon, the summer heat is already starting to cool and the need for artifical light becomes more necessary. The sprawling rotunda of the Elder Seat has been transformed into a meeting area to host the various representatives of the Haven System. A broad, ring-shaped table of solid elderwood has been assembled in the center of the room, and the seating provided is quite comfortable. Imbedded before each seat on the table is a customary vidscreen which will, when activated, show the violet eagle of the Royal House of Sauveur to emphasize this is a meeting of Houses, despite being hosted in Arborenin. Several meters outside of the ring-shaped table are a series of smaller, arced tables; finger foods, carafes of wine and water, and pitchers of ale are spread across them, including small plates and cups.

Arborenin guards stand alert on the far exterior of the rotunda — and obviously so considering that somewhere in this very keep is the first captive Hostile in five hundred years. Some representatives from the Paramounts and Vassal Houses are already present, mulling around and speaking in small clusters about the news report that has been on a loop on the H.N.N. and the various rumors that are spreading about the System. There is a definitely unrest.

Cedric had to break out the dress uniform for this one. Which is a bit more 'bling-y' than the standard duty uniform. This one comes with small section of multi-colored bars arranged in a square that's set over his left breast, while gold braided rope is wrapped around his right shoulder. Other than that, it's same standard uniform he's usually seen wearing. And he doesn't look too enthused at being here at the moment, considering it was his wife that was injured. Given the choice, he'd rather be with her, but a job is a job is job. Seated in the section allocated for the Paramount Orelle and it's vassals, the Captain is reading over his datapad, scanning through screens, swiping a finger on the screen to switch to the next mass of text. Every so often he'll take a drag from an electronic cigarette, the end of it glowing blue before expelling a plume of water vapor.

Michram arrived shortly after the doors were open and quickly claimed himself a mug of ale. Since then the man has simply been making his rounds of the room, an occasional rolling of his shoulders hinting at a restless nature that is simply not ready to have a seat before things are ready to begin. Currently he has meandered his way towards one of the food tables, stilled for a moment by the assortment laid out.

Having not seen any other members of his House about, Cambric is serving in a double duty tonight. Not only is he escorting Lady Sir Brienne on his arm, the Knight is also serving as the represenative of th House Leonnida. His chin is lifted in proper respect as he looks around and turns his attention to the knight on his arm, his words quiet for her. "Not the situation I had hoped to meet your mother in, m'lady." the Knight points out gently. "But I will be honoured to lend what support I can."

Asher no doubt arrived in the company of Michram, "Troubling turn of events." He says to his kinsman, "There've been visions, warnings that the hostiles may have been active, though if this confirms it we'd best look inwards towards the troubles we've encountered." He adds, taking a moment to glance across the assorted nobles and dignitaries both present and arriving.

Nikomachos has dressed somberly for the occasion — at least for him. He wears simple black with silver embroidery, although the spurs that chime at his every step and the engraved and beribboned sword are still in place. He has made his way slowly from the Waygate to the Grand Rotunda, taking the time to get a feel for the reaction of the Arborenin people, which has only added to his somber mien. Looking about, he spots a familiar — literally — face, moving over in Cambric's direction. As he approaches, the son-of-a-Leonnida offers out his hand to the actual Leonnida, "Cambric." Glancing over to the woman on the Leonnida's arm, he inclines his head, "My Lady."

Michram is interrupted from his study of the foodstuffs, glancing over to Asher. "Have there been such visions? I'd not heard of such. I don't like that they got they seem to have gotten the first blows in before we even noticed them. We'll want to make sure the next time there is violence to be done that they're the ones taken by surprise."

When he hears his name, Cambric lifts his left brow for a moment. Damn him for letting down his guard for even a second. When he sees Nikomachos, it takes a moment, but when he recognizes his distant cousin, the Knight gives a grin that tugs the corners of his face. "Nikomachos. So this is where you have been hiding." he says with a chuckle as he clutches his wrist with his hand and squeezes it roughly, as it the greeting with their House - strong grips, survival on the line. "This is Lady Sir Brienne Arboren of the House Arboren." he offers with a nod to the woman he escorts.

There is a series of murmurings from a small cluster of Sauveurs that stand not too far from the table. They are looking over a infosphere tablet that is replaying the report made by Todd Toddson early in the morning, and one of the elder of the three shake his head. "I hear that Symion will be making an address later this evening. He has been in with the Crown Council since the report came in from the Arboren search party."

Dressed up properly for this occasion, Tristan arrives quietly, and makes sure to stay out of the way, at least until he can see the people present. Spotting Asher, he heads over in the man's direction, steps a bit slow. "This about as out of the ordinary as we talked about?" he remarks, a bit quietly, offering a brief nod to Michram as well. Looking around for a few more moments, he takes notice of a few of the others present, but keeps quiet for now.

All these houses that Cedric doesn't tend to associate with; Cindravale, Arboren, Leonnida. It's a situation that eventually he'd have to encounter, but considering how he spends the majority of his time in space and the Ring, it's not like he has much interaction with them, being somewhat more terrestrial in nature. Were it not for how his wife forces him to be socialble, nevermind looking at things that are not in a military fashion, he'd likely have nothing to say at all. So he keeps reading his datapad. He's here to plan and get work done, not to make pleasentries.

Asher nods towards Michram, "There was no reason to believe they were already here, but enough to be cautious about it. It could have very well been a warning that their return was on the horizon." he explains, "I can give a more detailed explanation of what I've dreamed later."

On the arm of the Cambric, Brie had been considering the happenings of the day before, but when she hears her name, she concentrates more fully on her surroundings. It would not do for her to miss anything going on before the meeting, so after a quick and apologetic smile to Cam, she focuses her attention on who she is being introduced to, inclining her head in return. "My lord. It is a pleasure making your acquaintance."

Nikomachos shakes his head, offering up a somewhat wan smile, "No, I've been hiding in Landing, training with Sir Erskin on my point control." Because that's the young Cindravale's life… always practicing his jousting. Still, his grip is as strong as it's ever been, not the limp-wristed affair that one might expect from such a flamboyant man. At the introduction, he blinks in surprise and dawning recognition, then bows his head again before offering out his hand to Brienne, "Sir, my apologies, in my distraction, I didn't recognize you. My condolences on the loss of your scouts. My prayers to the Six go out to your kinsmen still lost in the woods." Once more, there's that faint flash of a smile, "In case your memory is as rusty as mine… it's Niko." The 'Sir' that accompanies it is eloquently stated by his sword and spurs.

The Arborenin guards that are standing at the foot of the staircase abruptly stand even straighter in their poise, being the first sign that the High Lady Eryn Arboren has arrived. She is a tall woman, perhaps almost five feet and eight inches in height, with a narrow and athletic physique. Her simple brown hair is kept in a slightly feathered bob that only emphasizes the slight sharpness of her features. Her eyes are dark and somber, almost the color of liquid smoke. She is dressed in a floor-length vest of darkest green velvet, and beneath that a simple empress-waisted white dress that flows and flutters like clouds. The heraldry of the House Arboren is embroidered on the back of the vest, the threading luminous to make the tree and arc of stars almost glow. She is followed after by a short, gangly fellow that appears to be fussing with various holoprojector disks.

"And I'm sure you will be ready to unhorse many a champion in the upcoming joust, Niko." Cambric offers with a grin. "I shall hope to see you claim your first victory, but I believe that you may have to go through me in the process." Releasing his cousin's wrist, he finishes the introduction. "Darling," he addresses Brienne, "This is Lord Sir Niko Cindravale. If you do not remmeber him from home, you probably have seen him at some of the tournaments. He is.. quite the character."

"I'd be interested to hear of them" Michram asides to Asher before his eyes shift towards the movement elsewhere in the room. "It will certainly need to be at another time though as it appears we may be about to get underway. Let us find our seats."

The lords, the ladies, the distinguished steel and flowers of the nobility. Then there are the Venomscythes. A trio of men seemingly fresh from the horse in riding boots, black shirts and trousers, the faintest layering of dust hinting it has been a hard days ride. Waygates be damned, some still remind themselves of how things get done. Still, for all the tumultuousness of their appearance, they walk in silently and in good order, as if they have always been there. Each bears a patch just above their heart with the company's emblem (http://theywillreturn.wdfiles.com/local--files/marduke/Venomscythe.jpg) Their commander, one Marduke Kefkald, examines the gathering throngs of nobles with a quiet, pensive expression as his eyes turn to the assemblage of food. "For the anticipated end of the world, I envy the Arborens their ability to at least provide a late evening lunch for us. Hopefully its indicative of a trivial concern rather than the maelstrom all have anticipated." He utters queitly to one of his fellow Dragoons.

"Sir Niko," Recognition dawns on Brie, lighting her features, along with a healthy dose of respect for the man. "Thank you, Sir, for your kind words. Everything was rather.. unfortunate." It's all she can give about it right now, her expression somewhat grim at the reminder of the day before. Deliberately changing the subject, she offers in a quiet voice. "I look forward to meeting you in the joust soon then." Resting her gaze on Cam, she offers a smile, but then Eryn Arboren makes her appearance and she dips into a proper, polite and demure curtsy for the High Lady. Her mother.

The High Lady continues her path with a sort of dignified and dedicated stride toward the center of the rotunda. When she speaks, her voice carries easily in the cavernous room, its deeper alto tones somewhat cool compared to their usual warmth — particularly amongst friends. "Lords, Ladies, Sirs…" Eryn's dark gaze passes over the mercenaries that have just entered. "Misters." She gestures to the round table. "Gather yourselves, some food, some drink, and have a seat. You can all socialize once we are done." The High Lady herself nods gently at the sight of her own kin, offering Brienne a quick smile before she steps toward the table to claim a seat. She glances toward the man still trailing behind her, fussing through the disks. "Mister Yarin… today. Please," she says, amusement completely evaporated from her tone.

Asher gives a curt nod towards Michram before he accompanies his cousin across to the table set aside for the Khournas delegation. "I'm anxious to see what they've discovered." he murmurs in an aside.

Tristan looks about to say something else, but then he sees the guards straightening, and his mother, the High Lady arriving. There's a polite bow, before he moves to get himself something to drink, before he moves to find his seat. All the time humming a little to himself, just like he's spent quite a bit of time since he returned from yesterday's events listening to music. As some people might know, it calms him. When he's found his seat, he drops into it, quieting down now.

Cedric is just waiting, seated at the table. But he's been waiting, inbetween checking his datapad for status updates on Lyrienne and then text-based communications between himself and the Lieutenant of his ship. Any Fleet-related data, should his opinion be asked on the state of the Navy, has been qued on different screen that he can sift to should he need to. At the High Lady's arrival, he gets out of his chair long enough to offer a bow before returning back to it. But, by the impatient look on his face, he wants to get started.

Nikomachos shrugs a little helplessly at Cambric, "Here's hoping." He nods as well to Brienne, but does not speak further to her, instead turning about at the entrance of the High Lady. The Cindravale knight bows his head formally, then moves up to the table, glancing down to the entrance at the mention of 'misters,' and frowning. No sense kicking up a fuss in someone else's yard, however — or in this case, grand hall — and the knight merely pulls out a chair a few places down from the High Lady and settles down into it.

Offering a bow in time with Brienne, Cambric listens to the High Lady, and then nods his head before he rises. "Shall we, Brie?" he asks the Lady Knight as he looks around for the area they are supposed to sit in. He is out of place with his blue and gold amongst the Arboren, but he seems pretty relaxed about the idea.

After the quick smile from her mother, Brienne responds in kind, still wearing it when she goes to find a seat. When Brie sits, it is with her family, drawing Cambric with her as she takes her place beside Tristan, tossing an apologetic smile to Niko. Once seated, she offers her brother a quick wink. "Hey Tris. Are you holding up okay?"

Marduke stands his ground against the High Lady's gaze, though he does bow his head. "What she means is everyone of us who did not come upon a palanquin, distinguished knights of the road and saddle." He says to his adjutants, shrugging within the confines of his leather jacket, though there is clearly an amusement in his conciliatory tone. Since they have been clearly identified as 'other', though, they do take their seats. Close enough to those identifying with the house Ibrahm to perhaps be seen as distant relation and helpmates, but fundamentally separate. Several clients have expressed concern about rumor, and have sent him as a kind of representative in their stead. One of his men passes him a vanilla folder which he opens, nods thoughtfully, affixes his signature twice as he reads, before flipping to a new page and passing it over to its original possessor. Professional volunteers hold many hats, and none is above the secretarial.

The little trio of Sauveurs look, perhaps even a touch disdainfully, at the mercenary brood. Two of them drop into somewhat loud whispers with the third, though they are silenced by a look and sequential words from the High Lady. "I invited them, Lord Traedus… at the suggestion of your Uncle—" That would be King Regnant Symion for those keeping track. "Who was advised by the Chancellor. They are here on… a consultant basis." For now, her tone seems to suggest. The Sauveurs cast cursory glances toward the mercenaries as they take their seats. She settles herself into a seat that is exactly the same as every other chair around the ring-shaped table — further emphasizing that the Arboren believe strongly in their egalitarian ways.

Claiming the seat directly at her left is Mist Yarin who has finally found the disk he was looking for. Rejoice. He swipes his finger across the vidscreen imbedded in the table before him and a small tray pops up so he can insert the disk. He starts tapping at his screen systematically, and at the empty circle at the center of the table, the holoprojector hums to life.

Michram settles into a seat at the Khournas section of the table. Asher is answered with a simple nod as the man takes a moment to adjust his seat and then lean forward. It is paying attention time.

"Hey," Tristan replies with a quiet grin for his sister, as he takes a sip from his drink. "I don't know yet. Just been listening to some music. You?" There's a brief grin in Cambric's direction as well, and a nod, before he looks over to his mother as things seem to be starting up now.

A nod of Cambric's head is offered to Tristan. "Lord Tristan, good evening." he offers, before his attention turns towards the presentation and the Knight takes out a infopad and stylus to start making his own notes so he can report back properly to his family.

Nikomachos doesn't seem to mind being left by the Arboren and her Leonnidan beau, considering that he's claimed a seat close to the High Lady anyhow, simply because he is the only member present from House Cindravale. As the multimedia presentation begins, Nikomachos props his left ankle up on his right knee, resting his left wrist on his left knee so that he can study the readout projected up from his bracelet.

Marduke and his scorpion brood are nothing but broad, white toothed smiles for the Sauveur's, though the eldest among them has several gold capped teeth and appears to be missing a molar. They can be dignified and regal like as the rest of the pantalooned sort: More than half of them after all are former retainers of the Lady of Scorpions, from whose passing they took on their heraldry and name. They know how to play deferential and placating, but in a manner that says to back the hell off. They are not bound by oath or obligation…they are here as invited guests and consultants, not to be trifled with by those who do not pay their fee. Still, it is a fleeting gesture before the 'friendly gesture' is dismissed by a firm gesture from Marduke. "Enough. Time to earn our pay." Consultants, yes. Rough riding wilderness scout consultants.

The Sauveurs cast a dangerous glare at the mercenaries, but they make no move to defy the words of the Arboren in their own house. They settle, disgruntled, into their seats, though they continue to cast each other looks until the High Lady interrupts.

Eryn relaxes back in her seat, arms neatly draped across the arms of the chair. She glances toward Yarin, giving him a nod of her head to start up the presentation. The holoprojector flickers to life, and three-dimensional images come to life, rotating slowly to provide everyone with a three-sixty view. The first is of the dead Hostile brought back by the Arboren search party. It looks slimmer compared to the Second System War hostiles, covered in hard plates of armor from head to toe. The second image is that of a pod-like capsule that is marred and scratched up. The third is the rotating planet of Imperius.

"First," the High Lady begins, "I have been asked to disspell particular rumors. We have only encountered two Hostiles since our search for Lord Sir Rydick Arboren and his wife. As some of you are aware, my dear nephew was found dead but his wife is still missing." She pauses just a moment before tapping her own vidscreen and the Hostile becomes the larger of the three images. "This Hostile has been completely disabled during combat, but we have one… living," and her voice twists with disgust. "We have not seen these models of Hostiles before." She breathes out. "Lets start there, shall we."'

When the events of the day before appear on the screen, Brie is riveted to the projected image, seeing it again in her mind, first hand, feeling her hands drive the blade home into the Hostile. She shifts uneasily in her chair, not looking at the men on either side of her. The grizzly murder of her cousin still forefront in her mind, she's grateful she hadn't taken any of the food or wine. Sucking her lower lip between her teeth, she bites it as she listens to her mother speaking. Finally she dares a glance to her brother, green eyes shadowed with remembered happenings of the day previous. Her hand seeks Cambric's beneath the table and she holds it tight, not seeking comfort, but giving it.

Cambric doesn't seem to need comfort, as he watches the vid and starts to take studious notes. He returns the squeeze of Brie's hand, but the Knight quickly returns to his notes a glance towards the Lady Knight and a smile that speaks of his pride in her at handling herself so well as he continues to make notations on his pad.
You paged Asher with 'It is hard to tell with the image, but if Asher digs through his report (access via the vidscreen in front of his seat), he'll see something about new camoflauge technology and increased communications. And no. No blaster weapons.'

"It's unlike anything I've ever studied, Cousin." Asher says as an aside to Michram, "Most probably warrior caste, perhaps a scout model, I saw reference to a camoflauge system in here." He says as he cross references some of the notes in his report, showing it to the fellow Khournas "And most notably it looks like they've eschewed blaster weapons on these, at least. They were more commonplace last time. There were theories they had the technology to adjust body type and build in the past.."

With a slow clinical eye, Cedric takes in the new shape and form of the Hostile image that's floating, comparing it with smaller floating image above his datapad, one of a previously studied Hostile from the Second War. He's comparing one to the other, at least visually. "Makes sense, most had predicted we would encounter new various forms of Hostiles. Just as we've been preparing for them, they've obviously been advancing, improving upon previous designs. Evolving, in it's own way." That seemed to go without saying for the Captain, his attention, however, goes to the pod. "What about that." his e-cigarette points it out. "I'll assume that's been brought in for study as well. An energy source? Ship? Communications relay?"

There's a momentary grimace as the images comes, and he's once more reminded of what happened out there. Taking a few deep breaths, Tristan nods a bit at the mention of having one of them living. Taking a sip from whatever he's drinking, he shakes his head for a few brief moments, as if to clear it. Glancing over at Cedric for a few moments, he looks like he's about to say something, but doesn't. Listening to what the others has to say now.

Arriving only a few minutes late, the Wall moves into the room and towards the circular table. The large Knight Lt. of House Ibrahm slows as he approaches and sets his dark gaze upon the dead body. His mouth sets into a hard line, and upon hearing Asher's voice, Thalo moves off towards the other Khournas representatives. A nod is offered towards Asher, and he pulls his report out of a worn leather satchel at his side, starting to skim through it. For the moment, the large Knight remains silent.

Marduke quietly makes notations. 'Narrower body frame, armor repurposed to prevent penetration by kinetic missile weapons and impact strikes. Energy shielding technology renders Hostile blasters obsolete, so rid them to conserve weight and allow for more mobility in close range melee combat.' His observations are quietly sent to the High Lady as while he writes in the more traditional fashion, one of his aides is creating the electronic copy. After all, he has a lack of evidence, and he is loyal to those who maintain his contract. Since he has not been hired by this august body in totality, his observations are solely for those who have paid for and invited his services. Meanwhile he leans back, his pen moving at a casual pace as he studies the reactions of those around him. Apparently are are in contest to see who can be the most stoic.

Nikomachos leans forward slightly to study the images, bringing up his bracelet to murmur, "Collect all information disbursed for later review." Letting his boot drop back to the ground, he frowns in thought, "We have a live one? And it's being studied, I assume?" He looks to Cedric, nodding his head, then his frown deepens, "Do we know that it's entirely incapacitated?"

At first, the silence from the table seems to cause a moment of uncertainty from the Arboren High Lady. She looks over each face around the ring before she lets her gaze alight on the Khourni Knight as he speaks, and she nods her head. "Both units were equipped with advanced camoflauge technology. It is reactive, compared to our own scout armors… we're still unsure exactly how it works, but the armor surface is able to reflect whatever is behind the plane, making the unit appear completely invisible to the naked eye." Eryn sweeps her fingertips across her vidscreen, causing the pod to become the largest image amongst the three now. "The pod was recovered hours before the assault on the search party." She nods gently toward Brienne and Tristan. "We have not had time to… investigate its purpose. I believe it is too simple to be a ship. There does not appear to be any sort of navigation system nor propulsion." Eryn finally looks toward the Cindravale, and she offers him a wry smile. "My daughter plunged her sword into its chest, and gave it a good twist. We are certain that it is incapacitated." She rolls her shoulders. "And yes, we have a live one. We have it contained."

"A probe perhaps. Or a beacon. Any type of signal from it?" Cambric asks and suggests as he touches his hand to Brie's shoulder and offers a brief smile at the high praise that her mother heaps on her, as he goes about continuing to make his notes.

Michram quietly listens to both the presentation and the words Asher says, nodding slowly. "If the scout models are so well armored, it will be interesting to see what their actual combat forces would look like. What about pod? Anything like it you can recall from your studies?"
You paged Asher with 'Oh yeah. You just can't see an Awakened aura in that much armor.'

Lyrienne's arrival is accompanied by a soft whirring sound as the young woman comes in on a hover chair. She looks a little pale, and the neat tailoring of her dress is somewhat altered by the bulk of bandaging over her abdomen beneath it, but she's here all the same. "High Lady," she murmurs as she makes her way toward the table and Cedric, inclining her head deeply to make up for the complications that come with abdominal wounds.

"I'm thinking it might be something akin to a drop-pod. Meant for a one-way trip. If the Hostiles are capable of form of stealth technology, it's possible that pod is as well, which might've been how it was able to evade the fleet's ships and active scanning." Cedric notes, tapping a few keys on his datapad, making sure the entire affair is being recorded for a later notes. "The incapacitated one, you're taking the standar precautions with it? An EMP sheilded room? We don't need it speaking to any companions it may have, either ones that are possibly still on Imperius or if it holds something more long-range." Checking his datapad again, he frowns. "In light of this new technology," he pauses, as if for a moment, uncertain, "I've been instructed by the Master of Ships and the Admiralty to request the pod and dead Hostile be removed to The Ring for further study." He won't bother going into the kind of labs made for this particular thing. Everyone know Oculus has best research facilities in Haven. "But, what do you intend to do with the incapacitated one? Study it? Dismantle it?" Note he doesn't even bother with the idea of interrogating it."

Lyrienne's appearnce is one of surprise, the Captain rising to his feet to help his wife reach the table, moving the chair next to him out of the way.

"They were specifically a close combat model." Asher says, "And I have no idea what the pod is. They have shown the ability to adapt strategies." He considers the statements from the Orelle, head turning a little as he goes on about the pod, "I suppose the captain has better ideas about it then I do.." He shrugs a little.

'Possible concern over previous events of sabotage linked to Hostile presence if new tactics are indication of what is to come. Shift from mass warfare to asymmetric irregular assaults. Assassinations, sabotage, attempt to disrupt lines of supply and communication. Assumptions of shield wall or horde tactics may prove irrelevant for present time.' Is once again sent to the High Lady. Ships, he knows nothing about, numbers and the deaths? It does draw a kind of pattern for Marduke. Something a little too close to what he would do. He shifts his weight ever so slightly. It doesn't sit well with him.

As the pod becomes the primary image, Thalo eyes it for a few moments, then the smaller image of the Hostile, and finally he speaks in a slow, deep voice, "We found no more of these?" he inquires glancing up, "While a tight fit, it could be some sort of drop pod. A low visibility insertion device." He then lifts his tablet, swiping and tapping at the screen a few times before aiming it at the image, likely to download it and other images. "Without some form of energy shielding it would likely break up in orbit…" He shrugs and returns his focus to the smaller image of the hostile.

"The camouflage technology of those were quite good. We didn't see them before they were there, demanding that we'd surrender our weapons," Tristan offers, voice a bit more clear than how he's feeling about speaking now. Nodding a little about the mention of the pod, he studies the image for a few moments, but doesn't say much more for now.

Nikomachos leans back in his chair again, "Well hell. Invisible Hostiles, some sort of meteor-pod, and a living Hostile. Do we think that we could find out anything more from a living Hostile than we would from a dead one?" Nodding over to Cedric again, he muses, "Shouldn't we have detected even a ship this small coming into orbital space? Unless it has some sort of stealth technology itself."

Eryn glances toward Lyrienne as she hovers her way into the room, and she straightens in her seat a moment. Lyrienne — once engaged to her son, now married to an Orelle — has always been a bit of a sore spot for the High Lady, perhaps even a bit of a pained reaction, but she returns the nod. "Lady Lyrienne." She then glances toward Cambric. "We believe it might have transponder capabilities, but we have been unable to trace whatever bursts are originating from it." Then her gaze shifts toward Cedric, and she cannot help the small smirk. "Perhaps…" Though she folds her long fingers together, crossing knuckles over knuckles. "We have the Hostile properly contained, Lord Captain Cedric. As for what we intend to do with it, that has yet to be decided. That is up to the Crown Council." She does narrow her eyes a touch. "We would like to finish our own investigations before we release the technology to the Ring, however…" There is some posturing in her voice, perhaps challenging. After all, what does the Arboren even want with Hostile technology?

The High Lady looks down at her imbedded vidscreen at a flurry of notes, and she looks up to nod slightly toward Marduke. "We have located three of these pods so far, and the Knight Lieutenant " She regards Thalo. " is correct that it appears to fit a single Hostile of this particular size. Three pods," she repeats, holding up three fingers. "There is at least one more scout in the Spine."

"They told us to put down our weapons," Lyrienne says quietly, echoing Tristan with a different emphasis. "The one came toward me when I started to cast. It didn't attack me until he was right on top of me, and that wasn't until I'd hit it several times. When it saw me starting to cast, /its/ eyes got brighter. I think we're looking at scouts. And not just normal scouts. Scouts looking for information on a very particular asset." She takes a careful breath, looking around the table. "I think they may be trying to decode the Awakened."

"This isn't the first incursion." Asher says, "There was another meteor shower shortly before the explosion in the crescent." He says, "And there have been visions of Robotic faces amongst us." He adds, "It was all cryptic, but very cautionary. I think we have been under attack for weeks now."

Thalo grimaces just a bit as he taps away making some notes it would seem, then returns his attention to the High Lady, a nod offered to her at her words, "It seems they found a weak point in our defenses then. And if there is one more of them, tracking it down should be at the top of our to-do list. Limit the information it's able to relay back." Of course, given the camouflage technology before them, it seems a daunting task to find one scout on a planet.

Has it ever been more plain than it is right now just exactly why Cedric really does not like being Arboren? As if he doesn't get enough dirty looks for being the man who 'stole' Declan's would-be wife. The look that Eryn gives the Captain is returned by slightly exasperated one, suggesting that he personally has zero time to deal in personal matters from years ago. "If that is what you wish to do with it, High Lady, then very well." She can posture all she wants, but the Shadow of Intent's Captain appears to either not care or want nothing to do with, not willing to take the bait into arguing over the matter. "Then I'll make sure that Admiral Ilo hears that." Passing the buck off to grandfather. It's their little feud between Ilo and Erya, Cedric doesn't to get invovled in it."

Instead, Cedric glances back at Niko. "Depends. We haven't been looking for cloaked ships, that's if they do have them. Hostile ships have never been what you'd call fantastic up until the latter parts of the Second War. If they've improved on that…stealthed ships add a whole new dimension to things. Detecting anything in empty space is hard enough, but something that reflect sensors back at you? I'll let the engineers handle that one. But it would explain how they've been able to elude us."

Nikomachos looks over to Lyrienne, then back to Asher, "We really think the Hostiles can cause volcanos to erupt?" Shaking his head, the young knight rubs at his temples, "High Lady, My Lords, My Ladies, Sirs, Misters, they are Hostiles. They are not miracle workers. They are already here more than six months before expected, and with superior camouflage technology. We need to stop dealing in what-ifs and maybes, and deal with the facts that we know. Casting them as invincible boogie-men doesn't help us any." Gesturing to Thalo, he adds, "I agree. One scout is nearly impossible to find across the length of the Spine. Why not simply protect vulnerable points, rather than splitting up and going out into the woods in small groups that can be ambushed?"

Cambric frowns. Information is key, and it seems his beloved's family is withholding said information. When Niko speaks, Cambric nods his agreement. "Now is not the time to withhold information of to divide up our forces. We need to know more about our enemy, and I am sure that the High Lady will share with us the much needed information in time. Now is the time to shore up, not thin out."

Lyrienne's brows furrow at Niko. "No one is saying they're causing volcanos to erupt. I believe what Sir Asher was saying was that they could have used the meteor showers for cover for these pods. They can cloak the pod itself, but probably not the trail coming in. In the middle of a meteor shower, it's hidden." She reaches a hand for Cedric's a brief, reassuring touch, but despite the awkwardness of her departure from Arboren, she spent enough time here to be comfortable even with the strain of a broken betrothal. "We know there's one here. We don't know that others didn't arrive during the showers. We can't assume the fight will be the same."

Tristan offers a nod at Lyrienne's words. "The other one, the one we captured, that went down quite a bit easier. We hit it with an arrow, then a few slashes to the gut with our swords, and it went down. I don't know if that's a weak spot, or if we were just lucky." A brief pause, before he adds, "At least we know these go down when they get hit, just like normal people." He frowns a bit at his mother's words about the number of pods, grimacing a bit at the thought of one more of those out there. "Perhaps we need to do both?" he asks at Nikomachos, shrugging a little bit now. "If we spend most of our resources protecting the vulnerable points, those we think aren't vulnerable might be left open to attack. Especially if they all have the same camouflage possibilities."

"The volcanos usually need little motivation to erupt" Michram says wryly, "Just try stopping them sometime. We do typically have safeguards in place for when they do. In the case of the explosion they did not activate. It may be speculation, but it is not wildly out of the realm of possibility that they might have been sabotaged. They would have a lot to gain by harming our manufacturing capability."

Eryn looks toward Lyrienne at her theory, and a deep frown settles into her brow. She clears her throat, as if a bit uncomfortable by those words. "The Lady Trella is Awakened," she says softly, but easily heard by all those at the table, speaking of her nephew's wife who is still missing. "Never in the last two System Wars has there been Awakened Hostiles," the High Lady says, somewhat informatively. "I do not want to think what would happen if their Priests unlocked such a power." She touches her own temple before she glances up toward Asher at his connections to both the meteor showers and recent sabotage of the Crescent manufacturing facility. She glances toward Thalo briefly. "I think Lord Sir Asher here has done just that, Sir Thalo," Eryn says as she straightens in her seat. She looks toward Nikomachos, and then toward Lyrienne. "Ultimately, you are both correct… we cannot attribute the natural eruption of a volcano to the Hostiles." She nods her thanks to Michram for his additional information before she releases a bit of an exhale. "It may come soon to pass that one Hostile scouting the woods of Arborenin is no longer our biggest concern," the High Lady offers.

'Protection of vulnerable points possible but not sustainable. Hostiles when arriving in great numbers may simply bypass. Additional strain on supply centers. Notable risk if camouflage technology is paired with raiding tactics.' There is a pause as Marduke looks up, processing new information. 'Hostiles would not need to cause eruption. Only damage safeguards, cause any number of minor defects. Manufacture dependent on maintainable, replicatable routine. Easy enough to disrupt if you know how.' Hinting perhaps that he has experience? Who knows. 'Awakened definite concern, but cannot be placed as primary. Must be one of many. Necessary to deploy fast response units to provide surveillance of outlying territories, keep watch given Hostile drop pod technology. Logistics far more vital concern than…psychic wizardry.'

"Or it wanted to be captured if it went down so easy." Cedric suggests to Tristan. "If this is a scout like everyone is thinking it is, it's possible it wanted to be taken in. Did anyone bother covering it up when it brought it, just in case that is a goal." Another shrug. "We may have to consider that option that Hostiles are indeed develouping their own Awakened abilities. When Lady Lyrienne described her dream to me, that was the first thing I considered. That it was a warning. Or a test." He does raise a hand. "Now, I am -not- saying that is the case, but the events that have led up to this is odd. But what we must remember that just from the difference from the First War to the Second, there were differences in Hostiles. We are simply seeing the next evolution of their capabilities. Even if they do have their own Awakened, Hostiles that are trying to become immune to Awakened abilities could possibly be worse. It would be the issue of kinetic arms being useless all over again."

Nikomachos arches an eyebrow at Michram, "So then did the Hostiles know that that particular volcano was going to erupt? Or have they tampered with safeguards across the Crescent and the other volcanos are now ticking time bombs?" He shakes his head again, gesturing to Tristan, "These are the same Hostiles that the Generation of Defiance fought to a standstill. Yes, they may have new technology and better ships. So do we. But if we over-estimate them, the populace will be paralyzed with fear." Letting out a long, slow breath, he nods to Eryn, "You are quite right, High Lady. A single scout may cause some damage, but if the Hostiles are arriving… we will need to call up levies, and…" he gestures idly with one hand, "…all the rest of the major military preparations." He is, after all, a jouster, not a general.

Lyrienne bites down on her lower lip as the High Lady confirms her fears. "I'm afraid that if they haven't succeeded, they're trying," she says quietly. "We don't know how the hostiles were made to begin with, where they came from, but the dreams…" She reaches up to rub a hand at her brow, shuddering. "I can't tell if they want to use us for parts, or try to turn us, but it doesn't bode well for Lady Trelle either way."

Marduke looks over at the comment of 'psychic wizardry' and scowls at the aide, but…there is something to be said. He is silent for a long time, but raises his hand to speak. "Forgive me, distinguished guests. I fear I have not introduced myself. Marduke Kefkald, commander of the Venomscythe Dragoons." There is a pause, letting them acclimate themselves to the fact that someone with a Sir not attached to their name is speaking. "With all due respect, gentlemen and ladies, the Awakened are but one facet of human military strategy. If need be, I am certain you have all thought of ways to suppress them." Its a chilling concept, but it needs to be brought up. "As far your concerns over the volcano, it doesn't need to be symptomatic of a larger problem. Be it freak accident or an opening attempt at a coup de grace, the fact is it has put strain on manufacturing capabilities. Coupled with other recent events, it has a detrimental effect on supply and preparedness. Be it bad luck or intentional sabotage, it is emblematic of a drastic shift in the nature of warfare. The shield walls, our entire military strategy is predicated on myths and tales, videos and sensationalization. Our enemy has possibly adopted an asymmetric order of battle. Adoption of psychic…wizardry is a concern, but it is the potential obsolescence of our very military you should structure. Incidentally, the answer to an Awakened Hostile is the same as to a Human Awakened, or to a normal Hostile. An arrow or a blade. Do not make psychometry a crutch or anything more than it is. A tool."

"There were already speculations that the destruction of the facility was sabotage, Sir Nikomachos." Asher counters, "And the damage was a significant setback to arms and armor production that we can ill afford. There are too many coincidences for it to have been anything but deliberate." he gives a look towards the other Khournas in attendance, "We should re examine the area around the facility for any new evidence overlooked at the time.." He pauses however as Marduke interjects, offering just a hint of a cough. "I too have had the visions Lady Lyrinne speaks of, I put stock in her opinion, and I think there is enough evidence to be concerned about their interest in the awakened."

Eryn looks toward Lyrienne, rubbing at her lower lip. "We must hope that she has joined her husband in the Halls." Because that is definitely the best option at this point. She glances toward Marduke as he speaks, and her dark brows raise curiously. "I would agree with you, Mister Kefkald, for now… shield wall serves nothing against subterfuge and sabotage, if that is indeed what the Hostiles are intending beyond simple reconissance, but… the shield wall has served us for millennia, and it resulted in our victory against the Hostiles in the last System War. But," she says, waving her hand. "This debate is not something I would bring before the Crown Council. Not now." She does give her twined knuckles a bit of a twist. "I would say we must remain vigilant to the idea that the Hostiles are targetting the Awakened, but we must also accept that regardless of their interests, the Hostiles are here. And they are early." She glances toward Cedric. "Their forces may not rain down on us entirely from the cloak of a meteor shower, so I can only imagine that the Royal Navy should be prepared."

"That's a big risk for them to base a strategy on, when we didn't decide until after the battle if we'd kill it or not," Tristan replies to Cedric. "Unless they could read our minds that long in advance, that is." Not saying much more for the moment, he drains the rest of his drink, otherwise keeping quiet for now.

"I understand what you're saying, Commander," Lyrienne says evenly, dipping her chin toward Marduke. "From a military standpoint, the Hostile interest in the Awakened is incidental at best. Having just measured myself against them, I can attest that psychometry is no more effective against them than conventional weaponry." Khournas father. "However, from the standpoint of protecting the population, if they're demonstrating a particular interest in Awakened, then the Awakened should be alerted so that we can be aware and alert to guard ourselves." Sauveur mother. "And if they've made technical advances with shields, with armor? There's nothing to say they can't do the same with whatever it is that makes us Awakened. We don't know what their tech can do." Orelle husband. "We can only be prepared." She shifts a bit in her chair, paling with a slight wince.

"These scouts are early. These pods are useful for moving individuals, but I think fear that their larger force is coming early may be unwarranted just yet. Mobilization, and focusing on removing any scouts we can find should be high on our list. These scouts are designed for recon and sabotage. We need to remove whatever advantage they give the rest of their forces." He pauses a moment, glancing to Asher, and falling silent, apparently making no comment in regards to their targeting the awakened.

Michram nods towards Asher, "And perhaps more importantly we need to see our other facilities protected. While it would be nice to know if they had any past involvement, I am more concerned with the present. Vigilance. Be it awakened, or manufacturing, or foodstuffs, if they are sneaking forces in beneath our notice their likely goal is to damage our ability to wage war when their forces finally arrive in force. Let them hide in the wilderness all they want, so long as they are unable to damage critical assets."

Marduke looks over at Asher. "Visions are poor excuses for a lack of solid intelligence, which we lack considerably lack about our foe's newest generation, Sir Knight." The Venomscythe delegation seem nonplussed at Asher's statement, but seem cowed by the presence of their commander. "You also, with all due respect, missed the point of my statement. That it must be one of many concerns. But if the fate of the Awakened concerns you so greatly, treat them as any asset to be denied the enemy." Let others make of that statement what they will. He takes the folder once again, looks down at it, makes a few notes. "There is also only so much that can be gained from speculation. You need patrols out in the field, garrisons on alert. It is well and good to speak of not having critical assets damaged, but them knowing where these assets are, what they are, is just as dangerous. If you wish…deniability, or wish to avoid telegraphing your intentions to what may or may not be out there, I can suggest a number of companies willing to do the work."

"If they're killed outright, they could just try again. If they're as interested in Awakened as everyone seems to believe that are, it's likely they'd try various methods to learn as much as they can. Which would include taking an Awakened captive, testing their own bodies against an Awakened and even letting themselves be captured on the off-chance they'd be studied, they'd be doing the same to us. At least before we dismantled them outright. Again, it's a guess. Understanding their motives is as just as important as understanding their technology and capabilities. Face the enemy you know, rather than the one you don't." Much of what he says seems to be more speculative than factual, but to him, it's worth at least noting. There's a nod at the High Lady. "The First and Second Fleets have already been on Condition Yellow status, forming the first line in the vicinity of The Ring and the border of Desolation. The Fourth and Fifth Fleet stand in reserve around Primus and Imperius, where they have been. Naval Intelligence I can only guess are working on ways to detect stealthed ships or the possibility that more of these pods are laying in orbit."

Nikomachos sits up in his chair as one of the 'misters' speaks up, but the words cause him to frown, "So let me get this straight, Mister Kefkald. You think that immediately before the Hostiles arrive on planet in force, we should totally change the way we fight and and train?" The young nobleman shakes his head slowly, turning to look to Eryn, "House Cindravale will be ready when the Hostiles arrive, and we will take all necessary precautions to protect the Citizens under our protection." Apparently, he's decided that he doesn't need further discussion with those present. Then again, he's just a jouster.

Eryn glances toward Cedric at his assessment of the naval status, and she inclines her head. "As I expected," the High Lady replies simply before she looks toward the Cindravalen. "As I'm sure the other Houses beneath the Crown will do." She glances toward Marduke, lifting her hand toward him briefly. "We will talk more about the employ that your company can offer, but I must agree with Sir Nikomachos… we do not have time to undergo an abrupt change of strategy unless the Hostiles themselves force such a change, but then… we will certainly suffer the same amount of devastation that we faced during the First System War." Her mouth tightens. "We will not see the formation of another Desolation in order to survive the next five hundred years."

Marduke shakes his head. "Commander Kefkald, if you please, Sir Nikomachos. And no, Sir Knight, High Lady, I am not suggesting that. I merely express concern that this could be a part of a larger problem, and if that is so, a portion of your forces should be ready to respond to attacks similar to this one. To supply lines, civilian populations, and industrial centers. It would not require the whole of any House's forces, perhaps a handful of dedicated squads and units. I would point to your own House Peake as an example, High Lady. It will be made clear in my brief exactly what I am proposing, of which hiring my company is but one step." He really needs a publicist or or a herald at this rate. All the titles and obeisance is starting to make his teeth itch.

"I think it best that if you wish to have such a command, Mister Marduke, that you consider it a volunteer force. As it stands, our training as it is, is as good as it can be and we will be prepared as best as we can for the coming war." Cambric responds as the Knight folds his arms across his chest for a moment as he looks to Marduke.

Lyrienne's eyes drift closed for a moment as she reaches up to brush a hand across her brow, leaning into the corner of the hover chair she occupies. Perhaps it was a little early to be out of bed just yet.

Cedric leans back in his chair, studying what Marduck has to say, finger rapping against the table. As somehow who's made a career in considering tactics that are outside the box, the idea does have some level of appeal to him. "I think, Commander, that the idea of at least a contingency plan for such an outcome may be something worth discussing. The same tactics we use may one day not be so successful. If the Hostiles are shown to adapt to their enemy, we should show the same inclination to be able to surprise than simply using things we know because they 'tried and true'. However, you may the best kind of luck speaking with House Peake. Those kind of tactics have always tended to be their bread and butter." He taking his datapad, closing it down and shoving it into a pocket.

Nikomachos smiles tightly at Marduke, "You may call yourself whatever you like, Master Kefkald." A smirk twists his lips up at one corner, "Nice cover, by the way. But yes, we always guard our people." Rising up to his feet, he bows his head to Eryn, "My condolences on the loss of your people and your family members." He nods to the other knights and nobles, then steps back, turning around to depart.

Asher gives a little glance towards Michram, "I'm going to return to Volkan, Sir Michram, deliver news and see about inspections of my family's facilities." He adds, "Do you wish me to relay any information for you?"

Tristan lets out a bit of a breath as he listens, but keeps silent for a moment longer. Nodding a little as he listens, he looks from one person to the other, studying them thoughtfully for the moment. Glancing over at Lyrienne, he studies her for a few moments, before he looks over at his sister, and then glancing around the table at the various people now.

"Simply let the family know that I'll be doing some investigations of my own" Michram says towards Asher, "Though I would like to speak with you at some point about the visions you've had."

Eryn nods her head gently as it seems the meeting is breaking up, and she glances toward Lyrienne. "You are welcome to stay here," she says softly to the woman, "until you are healed more." She glances toward Cedric. "Please feel no obligation." Then she also stands, glancing toward Marduke. "Mister Kefkald, we will speak more about your potential offerings to the House Arboren and its vassals. For now… you are our guests." And all that, that may imply. She starts to stand, pushing up against the arms of her chair as she does.

Marduke gestures to his fellows as he meets Cambric's gaze. There isn't the slightest flinch as the Ibrahmi former dragoon smiles languidly. "I already /do/ have a command, Sir Knight. Some of the best lancers, sharpshooters on foot and on horseback, and scouts the Haven System has seen fit to produce. We are professionals who know this kind of war, and will be respected as such. Precision strikes, information gathering, that is the name of the game. What you have is a brush war, one that has not been anticipated. The main force may be forthcoming, it may not come at all, or it may be very far off. In any case, you must deal with the enemy you have right now, not the one that is coming." He stands until the lady leaves before he takes the folder again, looks it over, and nods it before directing the man with the tablet to send the information. Maybe data and analysis will speak better for him amongst this august assembly. "Though you are right, we are…professional volunteers."

Lyrienne opens her eyes to offer a faint smile to the High Lady, dipping her chin once more. "Thank you, High Lady," she murmurs politely, though there's familiarity in her tone despite the formality of the words. Eryn was as much a mother to her as any, after all. No matter how things ended between her and Arboren. "With due respect, Commander, unless you've closed with the Hostiles, you don't know any more than anyone else who's been studying them. You have theories, and related experience, and they may all be correct, but we don't know that yet. So please, let's not start fighting each other when we have bigger problems. Ric, I can't figure out how to back this thing up," she adds, reaching for Cedric's elbow. "Show me?"

Cedric almost gets up. Considering how little he's actually spoken to the High Lady or interacted with her, there's a glare of indignation at her. A sense that he's does nothing wrong to her personally. His mouth opens, he's about light into the High Lady, status be -damned-. Then, Lyrienne touches his elbow. A deep breath is sucked in, military decorum taking over. "Sure. You need your rest." he states quietly, moving out of his chair to help her hoverchair. "But I'll need to get back to my ship soon." A glance over at the retreating High Lady. "Don't want my presence to be offensive. And we can't have -that-, now can we?"

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