02/19/3063 21:19 Location – Isle Azul, New Hebrides
“Ah Nikolai how did you end up in this situation?”, he placed another cam into a crack in the wet stone, “Dmitri is surely laughing his head off in hell knowing”, three meters, “you are climbing a sea cliff,” another three meters, “during a cyclone”, three meters more slipping twice, “to save a Davion princess”, five meters more, “guarded by an elite jump company”_, he pushed forward nearly there, “unarmed.”_
Clearing the edge he flattened out taking a moment to catch his breath, coughing when the rain went down his throat. Taking a moment to unharness and position the climbing rope for rapid rappelling if that became necessary, afterwards stashing his climbing gear and wet-suit in a waterproof bag then placing them within a nearby bush. Then he donned his Sneak Suit over his under-layer and powered up his multi-spectral optics. Taking a moment to look around and verify that everything was working creeping through the dark palms whipping in the wind.
The Villa belonged to Wilson Lycomb, an executive of Lycomb-Davion IntroTech, Nikolai Vasiliev didn’t know whether or not Mr Lycomb was aware that it now held Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion but it didn’t matter. He climbed a small shed near the gardens crouching then zoomed in and saw two squads of the 2nd Necedah Jump Infantry on patrol. They clearly hadn’t brought proper MilSpec foul weather gear with them, instead the reflective stripes on their civilian gear marked them in his goggles. There was a whole company on this island but his intelligence had been correct that the majority of them were located near the port village. There was probably only a platoon at the villa itself, after all their captive couldn’t run anywhere.
Nikolai used the landscaping to avoid the patrols which were moving around in pairs and reduce his exposure time to the surveillance systems, visible because they were recent additions and didn’t fit with the villa’s Neo-Revival architecture. The Cheka operative stuck to the shadows avoiding the pools of light emitted from the mobile light towers and settled beneath an illuminated window where a towel hung out on a balcony.
Princess-Regent Yvonne Steiner-Davion sat on a chair surrounded by piles of books wearing a red top and grey capri pants. She had screeched and whined long enough that her captors had bought her whatever she wanted to keep her quiet and she figured she might as well try to complete her studies. The island had its own power generator so there was no threat that the Class 3 Cyclone howling outside would cut off her reading light or air conditioning. She had just finished reading the biography of Reynard Davion and was beginning to work on Reunification War Historicals when she heard a tap at the window. “Shut up! stupid storm”
The tap occurred again, and again in a rhythmic pattern, eventually she got up and looked out the window. There was a figure beneath it that she recognized, she opened the window and the sopping wet man cleared the window frame. Yvonne kissed him, Nikolai paused for a moment, that was unexpected but not unwelcome they had already gone way further than that.
She was about to speak but he put his finger to her lips and whispered directly into her ear, “Yvonne, can you put some music on?” Confused for a several moments while she worked her way through possible scenarios she nevertheless did as asked playing popular music in the FedSuns from the room’s speakers. Nik adjusted the volume and went into the bathroom, it was an elegant room the walls a light pink with a very large bathtub and glass shower stall, Yvonne followed confused.
His sneak suit was still wet and dripped rainwater onto the white floor tiles and he pulled the mask off placing it in the sink, then adjusted his hair and she got really close.
“I’m happy you’re still alive Yvonne, but we have to speak quietly, if I was your captor I would have an audio recorder somewhere in the room, that’s why I wanted you to turn the music on.”
“Nikolai you found me. How are we getting out of this?”
“I don’t know; your sister is on her way, she already has a force near Tikonov but she can’t launch an invasion without cause. ”
“A Ferret should be coming in tomorrow and you know I can pilot it, we can get off this island you can take me to her.”
“I know you can but I can’t get you off-world. Marshal Sortek has everything locked down, I only managed to sneak in via a refrigerated meat container.”
“Well if you can’t get me off world. What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to smuggle a message back to Katherine, I can’t send it back via the New Avalon HPG. If you were in immediate danger I would have busted you out but the whole Guards Brigade is on planet. You are safer here than free unfortunately. Especially since Bishop has been launching a very slick campaign trashing you and your sister trying to convince people that Conrad or George might be a better choice than either of you for First Prince.”
Yvonne’s eyes went wide, “The Whole Brigade? That’s nearly sixty regiments plus the Militia.”
“I think the Militia will be loyal to you if they knew what was going on, the Guards too but they don’t know everything that has happened. If they don’t however, three other Crucis militias and the 1st Armored Cavalry are already mobilizing since we convinced them that something was wrong. The Admiralty is with us as well. They are already positioning themselves to negate George and James if they try to support Bishop.”
“Where’s Ardan or Jackson? Why haven’t they done anything yet?”
“Ardan is still in the Capellan March overseeing the end of the St Ives conflict on behalf of the Star League. He has no reason to distrust Bishop and still thinks you are taking time off to deal with Arthur’s death. I don’t know where Jackson is, he apparently hasn’t made any public appearances in the past few weeks.”
Yvonne looked concerned, “Do you think Bishop killed him?”
“I don’t think so, Jackson is a longtime friend and General of the Armies but then again Bishop isn’t acting like himself. I’ve poured over the scuttlebutt and archival videos I picked up the last time you had me spy on him again. I just can’t figure out who might be influencing him or to what end, he has to be compromised in some way.”
“Why would someone do that?”
“I think someone is trying to collapse the Federated Suns, the Black Dragons are already sabotaging the Combine, the Confederation is a weak state barely able to overcome a breakaway province, the League is on the rise if they can get over their many internal problems. The only state that is still hanging on is the Alliance and they still have the clans on their borders. There were plenty of opponents to the Federated Commonwealth, people who opposed your father’s marriage. You know that, we used them to weaken Bishop’s power base and remove potential enemies from the field before they turned on you.”
“Could it be Tancred?”
“I don’t think so, this conspiracy is far deeper and more expertly executed than anything he is capable of. We both know he’s no Quintus Allard, that is why I’m here after all. Although maybe…it doesn’t make sense though, the moves are all wrong. Arthur wouldn’t have been killed if he wanted to be First Prince, your brother and him were so close, he would have been on the shortlist to be his Champion.
He would have tried to convince Arthur to get you to marry him, then once that happened, killed him. His dad too, he’s not the most stable of men but he treated your brother like a son. Even with all his hatred for the Combine he wouldn’t have used Arthur as a pawn like that, he could have come up with any number of reasons to attack the Combine.”
“I’m really scared Nikolai, I want to leave, I don’t want to be the Regent, I don’t even want to live on New Avalon anymore. I’ve spent my whole life here but it feels like a changed place. Why is this happening to me?”
Nikolai had spent years cultivating agents and spent more than a few months as a prisoner but it was something else when it was a friend that was breaking down under the strain, “I understand Yvonne. You know I’m doing everything I can, but you have to hang in there. I’ll be back and Katherine is on her way. You are not alone or forgotten, you will get out.”
Nikolai spent a few more hours with her before heading out and re-boarding his mini-sub clearing out the climbing cams on the way down. He smuggled himself to Argyle and then boarded a Loki vessel to transit back to Tikonov and delivered it to the Loki commander there personally before heading back out into the Outback.