Partig's Lost Time

The Betrayers

When the last Frontier War ended, a family of merchants, the Leontiil were found to have betrayed the Imperium. They had been selling information on the trade routs of competitors, which served not only to line their pockets, but to allow them to dominate trade in some areas as the Zhodani took out ships from competing lines. The Leontiil had counted on Zhodani success and ending up in their sphere of influence after the war, but this was not to be. As the war began to close, they bought up every Imperial secret they could get their hands on, and stockpiled them against potential disaster.

That disaster came when other merchant concerns revealed through analysis the treachery of the Leontiil family. The family realized that it could no longer operate in public as merchants, as they were certain that the other merchant concerns would have retribution on them one way or another. After all, lives had been lost, many of them. So they cut a deal with the Imperium. They would allow the Imperium to make the family disappear in return for keeping their secrets to themselves. And by disappear, they meant that they needed for an entire planet to hide out on. Djinni.

At the time Djinni was being prepared for colonization. The Imperium simply put it under Red Zone travel restriction with no explanation, and so it has remained for the last two decades, with only a small station of men in an orbital station there to ward off potential interlopers. More recently, to allay suspicion further, the Imperium has begun to install a starport. Those who do arrive in system are shooed away, unaware that the planet is, in fact, inhabited by a small colony.

This colony is difficult to detect, simply because it exists in a titanic formation of caverns under the surface. Hence why this is the ideal place to hide a small civilization. And indeed that is what it is. The Leontiil were a large family and removed all of their extended members from everywhere in the Spinward Marches. What’s more they brought with them servants by the drove. Inside these caves are marvelous palaces of the family peopled by the family and even more of these servants.

The servants they brought were never really told what sort of exile they would be getting themselves into. Immediately they became virtual slaves of the Leontiil who through technology literally held over them the power of life and death. This was not well understood what would befall the servants in question, or the Imperium may have taken some different rout with the family.

The servants, of course, brought their families with them, and they were encouraged to reproduce. These newer generations of servants were brought up to believe in the family members as something nigh unto gods to whom they owed their very existence. Parents were monitored for any sign of telling the truth to their children and in some cases a technology was used to absolutely control more recalcitrant servants who may otherwise have tried to foement a rebellion.

What the family wanted, eventually, was a cult of brainwashed worshippers to do their every bidding, one that would not need to be sluggishly controlled by the technology. And it worked. Over time they had their army of willing slaves. These were still implanted with technology to ensure the certainty of their loyalty, but it was no longer needed. They even allowed the most loyal and talented servants out from Djinni so that they could be their eyes and ears on other planets as well as running other errands.

One such errand-running slave was named Andriina.

Andriina

It turns out that even given this wondrous prison, the Leontiil were not content to sit still. They wanted to get the ultimate revenge on the Imperium. To that extent their new operatives began to make new contact with Zhodani operatives, and to, once again, begin trading in secrets in the hope that one day the Zhodani would invade successfully.

Andriina was perhaps their most talented such operative, and she did quite some damage before some information stumbled upon by Sigul Larque in his wheeling and dealing ended up with him informing Partig about her suspicious activities. During Partig’s own initial investigations in which he met and got to know Andriina (he was single and dashing at the time), he got some idea of the activities she was up to. Though he had no idea who it was she was working for.

Partig brought it to the attention of Imperial Naval Intelligence. Andriina was followed and her efforts circumvented as the intelligence people managed to put together exactly what was happening, and who was behind it. Analysis showed that Andriina represented a key to all of their problems, if they could somehow turn her. Not only would they be able to get details on all of the Leontiil activities, but they might even be able to crack the Leontiil information network on other worlds that was set to release all of the Leontiil’s secrets about the Imperium (the ones they hadn’t already sold) should the family fail to regularly send out an all-is-well signal.

Partig, having already established a rapport with the woman, was sent in to make contact. The process was slow and had to be handled extremely carefully… she was, after all, fanatically loyal to her masters, and carried around electronics that recorded every moment of her existence for them to analyze. Eventually the recording measures were analyzed and circumvented so that false records could be entered. They even figured out a way to interfere with her mind-control circuitry, should they need to do so; though they weren’t able to figure out how to extract it without killing her in the process.

By that time Partig had her gained her trust, and eventually she was deprogrammed from her brainwashing conditioning. During this time, another of the Leontiil agents discovered what was going on, and tried to kill Andriina. Partig saved her life, and killed the other agent. A story was concocted along with the proper recordings to account for the death of this agent. Thereafter Andriina would only work under condition that Partig be allowed to work at her side. Her deprogramming had left her with a distrust of the Imperium, too. She only trusted Partig.

So the pair of them began to train for a mission to infiltrate the Leontiil data warehouse to get the requisite data on the secrets network needed to dismantle it. It was during this very intense training that the two of them fell in love. Perhaps a case of Pygmalion to some extent, but the feelings were very deep.

Partig got his recently hired associate, Sekugun, to be added to the mission as well, knowing he’d be an asset in terms of retrieving the required data. This, despite Sekugun’s shaky background.

The Mission

The mission was in several stages. The first stage was relatively simple, an advance team had deactivated alarms and sensors on the surface near a cave that would allow entrance to the underground lair of the Leontiil’s. This is the part recalled by Chief Petty Officer Masserlat. Andriina was in a suit that intended to make her identity unknown, for added security; and said suit was part of the system to prevent her mind-control circuitry from being effective. From there only Partig, Andriina Commander Jurkeen and Sekugun proceeded onwards into the cave.

Once below, for the second phase, they used Andriina’s circuitry to bypass the security at a vehicle pool, and obtain a grav-van with enough space to carry all of the equipment they would need to proceed (including the heavy data extraction hardware). This was a risky moment, becuase it meant turning off the device in her suit that prevented Andriina from being taken over… but it worked. Apparently she was not under suspicion, as they had supposed.

Partig flew the grav-van the short distance to a point outside the palace in question, where they got out and began to set up to do the remote data extraction from the computers inside the compound using the heavy equipment. Andriina continued on with the vehicle to the compound to allay any suspicions about the vehicle’s travel pattern. The plan was simply to walk back out with the data, once it was obtained, leaving the heavy equipment behind.

Once inside the compound, however, she couldn’t keep it together. She met up with a former friend of hers, and could not resist enthusiastically telling them that they had all been brainwashed. The friend almost immediately reported her to security, and she barely made it out of the compound. The owner of the compound happened to be the owner of some chaser pets alien to Djinni, natives to some heavier world, vicious creatures of a size that would find humans an excellent snack.

She returned to the position with Partig and Sekugun, where they were still in the midst of retrieving the data they needed. Partig made the call not to run before the data was obtained. As the creatures descended upon them, they fended them the creatures off with lasers, and got what they needed. But in the process Partig accidentally shot some of the portable power cells. As the data was downloaded, Sekugun displayed some of it holographically… he had no intent of not getting out of there without some juicy information. Partig saw some of this data at the same time.

Finished with the extraction, they began an retreat across the giant cavern floor, using their lasers to shoot many more of the predators sent against them in the dark. Commander Jurkeen was the first to be taken down by the creatures. At one point one of the monsters managed to bring Andriina down, and Partig dived on it to get it off of her before it tore her apart. The beast and Partig rolled over a short cliff, and Partig landed on top of the creature killing it. But in the process he had broken his back.

Sekugun and Andriina managed to get to him and begin to carry him. More creatures continued to assault them. As the damaged energy cells began to dwindle a certain fatalistic mathematics became apparent. They would run out of energy before they got to the cave entrance and safety. Either they would have to stop firing the lasers in which case the creatures would likely get them, or they would have to turn off Andriina’s mind-control buffer device at which point she would likely turn on them. In fact Sekugun said it was likely that with the lower power-level at which they were operating the device to save energy, the Leontiil’s were probably able to track her circuitry (if not use it), explaining why wave after wave of the creatures were so unerringly being able to find them.

They were discussing this problem, and suddenly Andriina made a decision. She took a small amount of battery power with her, and ran off in the opposite direction of the entrance cave. Confirming Sekugun’s supposition, the creatures followed her off into the darkness. Partig pleaded with Sekugun to go after her, but they both knew that would mean death for them all. Partig never knew if her mind-control ran out first, allowing her to be controlled to just stand there as the beasts ate her, or if she fought until her laser ran out, and was then torn up by the beasts.

In any case, Andriina’s sacrifice gave Sekugun just enough time to drag Partig to the safety of the entrance cave.

Aftermath

Back up on the cruiser orbiting Djinni (supposedly on a routine mission to relieve the orbital interdiction station crew), Partig and Sekugun were debriefed. Unknown to them there was a psion on board who had intended to be there to inspect any damage to Andriina after the mission as a result of penetration of the barrier device by the mind-control signals. The only way to ensure that she was still on their side.

Since the Psion didn’t have her intended subject she decided to scan Partig and Sekugun, and discovered that they had seen information that was very sensitive. Mission Command ordered that Sekugun have all memory of the operation erased, but he managed to negotiate a deal based on other data he had stolen some years ago to be able to retain his memory of the events. Partig didn’t mind having the sensitive data erased… but on thinking about it he decided that he wanted more wiped out. Recollection of the mission, and, especially, his relationship with Andriina.

Before being wiped, Partig figured that the Imperium would, with the data that they had obtained, dismantle the Leontiil’s secrets network, and then annihilate them once it was done. This was one of his last consoling thoughts before the Psion put him under and took away the memory of a woman he had once loved.

False Memory Implanted by Bellim Muxilant

Partig recalls that a while back he met a woman named Andriina, who he fell in love with. She told him that she had once been a spy for the Zhodani, and that she could show him the location of a secret Zhodani base on Djinni. They landed a small team on the planet to do recon of the base which was down in a cave, the team including Sekugun, Partig Commander Jurkeen and Andriina.

However, on entering the cave, Andriina betrayed them, and turned them over to a team of Zhodani, who were apparently intent on capturing Partig to pry his Navy secrets from his head. Jurkeen was interrogated first, and died from the stress. Partig and Sig managed to escape, just as the Zhodani were beginning their interrogation of Partig. They killed all of the Zhodani agents, and Partig was forced to kill Andriina himself. However with her dying act, Andriina shot Partig in the back, severing his spinal column.

Sekugun dragged Partig to safety outside the cave. There a Psion was on hand to help in the debriefing, a standard part of such missions dealing with the Zhodani. It was determined that the Zhodani had, in fact, affected Partig’s mind slightly, and that they would have to go in and fix this. Partig asked that, while inside, that they erase the memory of Andriina, which necessarily had to include everything to do with the mission.

Partig's Lost Time

Frontier Trader Lilith Mike_Holmes