Motes in the Serpent's Eye

Welcome to the Jungle (Part Three)

Feel my, my, my serpentine


Join the valiant crew of the RES Speaks Softly as they work together to explore new avenues of personal fiscal enhancement.

Aboard the Speaks Softly; 5041.122:0330 (Third Shift)
Captain Ni Shen Xau wandered down to the galley. The ship was quiet, and even the lounge was empty. Upon entering the galley, he was therefore surprised to see the XO sitting at a table, reading on his datapad.
“Captain,” Rwvyan said, nodding in greeting.
“XO, is something keeping you up?“ He said, making note of the half empty bottle of whiskey on the table. Rwvyan shrugged noncommittally in reply.
Xau let it pass while he made himself an egg salad sandwich. “Are you hungry?”
“No, I’m good,” replied Rwvyan. “Thanks for asking though.”
Xau frowned, and decided to sit down at the table with Rwvyan, proceeding to quietly eat his sandwich. The next time Rwvyan paused to pour himself a drink, he tipped the bottle in Xau’s direction. Xau nodded and Rwvyan proceeded to pour a measure of whiskey into a second glass.
“What are you reading?” Xau asked.
“Oh, um, it’s a book about philosophy.” Rwvyan admitted.
Xau’s eyebrows crept up his forehead. He wasn’t aware that his XO had such sophisticated taste in books. Frankly, he hadn’t been aware that his XO read books. “What type of philosophy?” he asked, curiously.
“It’s called The Rejection of Consequentialism.”
Xau blinked. “What’s consequentialism?” he asked, momentarily startled.
“Well,” Rwvyan said, setting his datapad aside. “Consequentialism is the idea that the morality of anything you do is determined by the consequences. The theory was first posed by Cymreiss Firebreath of House Handor about 500 years ago:
It is the business of the benevolent creature to seek to promote what is beneficial to society and to eliminate what is harmful, and to provide a model for society. What benefits he will carry out; what does not benefit he will leave alone.” Rwvyan quoted from memory.
“I think I understand,” Xau said, “but can you provide a practical example?”
Rwvyan nodded. “Most people would agree that lying is wrong. But if telling a lie would help save a person’s life, consequentialism says it’s the right thing to do. Would you agree?”
Xau nodded. “Yes, that makes sense to me.”
“Ah,” Rwvyan held up a single finger, “but what if economists could prove that the empire’s economy would be stronger, and that most people would be happier, healthier, and wealthier, if we just enslaved 2% of the population?”
Xau frowned. “That’s outrageous!”
Rwvyan shrugged. “That’s the essence of consequentialism.”
“Your book is about a rejection of this philosophy?”
Rwvyan chuckled. “Actually, it’s an analysis of the movement that rejected it, posing the theory that they are incorrect in their arguments.”
“Are you a consequentialist?” asked Xau.
Rwvyan sighed. “I don’t know,” he said, after a long pause. “I don’t think so. That’s one of the reasons I’m reading about it.”
“Is something bothering you?” Xau repeated after a few minutes of silence. He expected Rwvyan to repeat his query from earlier in the day, regarding Xau’s reluctance to report the existence of Chadra to the Empire. Xau had reacted emotionally to the question, and although Rwvyan had apologized promptly, Xau felt uneasy about the conversation.
Rwvyan started to speak, and then fell silent, looking at the Captain with narrowed eyes.
“Go ahead, XO.” Xau gestured for the other man to speak.
“Alright. The doctor’s punishment is bothering me,” Rwvyan admitted.
“What? Why?” Xao asked sharply.
“That woman is a danger to this ship and everyone on it.” The sneer in Rwvyan’s voice was unmistakable. “Not only did you have her moved from the brig to Medical, you made Volund scrub the cells. That’s a punishment in anyone’s book.”
“You’re right, it was.” Xau drew himself up stiffly.
“I don’t understand why. What did he do wrong?”
“He failed in his duty as a doctor. Regardless of Dr. Caladriend’s behavior, he owes her a certain level of care, and he did not provide it.” Xau could tell that Rwvyan wasn’t following his logic.
“Why does he owe her anything? She’s just a junkie. She’s not even crew.”
“She’s a passenger on this ship, and under his care. As a doctor, he has sworn to care for his patients to the best of his ability. Instead, he treated Dr. Caladriend callously because he judged her to be unworthy and undeserving. It was cruel and a betrayal of his oath.” Xao paused, and then continued, “I expected better of him.”
They both fell silent for a time after Xao’s statement. Xao was left to wonder if he confided too much to the younger man. Finally, Rwvyan responded thoughtfully.
“The punishment isn’t about her at all. It’s because he didn’t stick to his own code of honor. Is that it?”
Xau nodded, “That’s exactly right.”
Rwvyan rolled his shoulders. “I get that. We have to be true to ourselves.” He glanced at Xau and pursed his lips. “You make it all seem so easy.”
“What?” Xau asked, genuinely taken aback by the observation.
“Knowing right from wrong.”
“Don’t you? Don’t you feel it in your gut when you’re doing the right thing?” Xau asked self-assuredly.
“The only thing my gut tells me is when it’s time for dinner,” said Rwvyan with a sudden grin. “The rest I have to puzzle out up here.” He tapped the side of his head.
“Didn’t your parents teach you…” started Xau. He broke off at the expression on Rwvyan’s face, remembering Rwvyan’s private disclosures to him about the rearing of the siblings.
“Everyone who had a hand in our upbringing taught us about making the right choices. It’s just that none of them agree on what those things are.” Rwvyan hesitated, and then continued carefully, “That’s why I asked about your approach towards Chadra. You said it isn’t my business but I disagree.”
Xau frowned and shook his head, but didn’t respond.
“If I’m going to do things the way you want me to, I need to understand why you make the decisions you do. If I don’t understand, I need to be able to ask.” He waited a moment, but Xau just studied his drink. Then he shrugged. “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s cool. But you’ll need to tell me what to put in and take out of my report.”
Xau met Rwvyan’s gaze and said coolly, “You should follow your conscience, XO.”
Rwvyan snorted derisively. “With all due respect, yada yada, that’s a cop out. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the reports. I’m not out here with a mandate to do anything except protect House Golion’s asset. I personally like this ship, the crew and the science team.” He paused. “Except for Serpentce. He’s kind of a dick.”
Xau chuckled in spite of himself. He took another sip of whiskey, and studied his XO in silence. After a moment, Rwvyan returned to his book.
“Why should you dislike her so?” Xau asked, returning to an earlier topic.
Rwvyan looked up, “You’re referring to the Caladriend woman?” he asked. At Xau’s nod of confirmation, he continued, “I’ve got no use for junkies. They’re only ever thinking about the next fix. That makes her a risk.”
“Your reaction tells me there’s more to this than the security of the ship, or the success of this mission.”
After a moment’s consideration, Rwvyan replied steadily, “You’re right. But I don’t know that it’s any of your business.”
“If it affects how you do your job…” began Xau, who trailed off as Rwvyan lifted one eyebrow.
“What’s good for the serpent is good for the rooster,” the XO said, smiling very slightly. “I’ll share if you do. Quid Pro Quo. After all, in the words of the noted philosopher, Aitheidis the Golden, ‘The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.’
Xau paused before responding, “Is Aitheidis the Golden a Consqeuentialist?”
Rwvyan laughed suddenly, “Hardly. Technically, he was a Political Voluntarist.”
“What’s that?”
“Um. It maintains that political authority is will-based.” Xao cocked his head, and gestured for the half-dragon to continue.
“It starts with the idea that all forms of association should be voluntary,” Rwvyan said, warming to the subject. “The term has fallen out of favor in recent academia, but gained in usage among various groups with political agendas, specifically those who opposed the rise of the Houses of Asamet. Its principal beliefs stem from the non-aggression principle.”
“That being?” asked Xao.
“It’s an ethical stance asserting that aggression is inherently wrong, but allowing for forceful defense of an individual or their property.”
“Interesting.” Xau looked at Rwvyan. “What do you think of Political Voluntarism?”
“I think it’s a pretty idea, but not applicable to life in the Empire,” Rwvyan said soberly.
“Shouldn’t it be?” Xau asked. “For example, what gives our Empire the right to interfere with the inhabitants of Chadra, or any other planet?”
Rwvyan started to shrug off the question, and then gave the Captain a sharp look. After a moment of thought, he responded, “Aitheidis the Golden would say we have no right to do so. Phunesthe would argue that ‘Justice is nothing but the interest of the stronger.’ She might even claim that as the stronger society, we have a responsibility to govern them for their own sake.”
“Is she a member of House Mazorgrim?” said Xau acerbically.
“Altara, actually.” Rwvyan said.
“What do you think?” Xau asked his XO, making eye contact.
“I think…” Rwvyan hesitated, “I think that the Empire has a lot on offer.”
“XCrawl?” snarked Xau.
“Ha! Yes, but we also have more advanced medicine, better communications, and safer travel. As a culture, we enjoy the benefits of an advanced society. As a whole, citizens of the Empire are safer and more secure. We have trade and commerce that allow for a higher overall standard of living. We have higher education and an exchange of ideas that facilitates innovation and discovery.”
“Fair point, I suppose,” muttered Xau. Then he drained his glass of whiskey and said, “Although you sound a bit like a recruiting manual. Goodnight, XO. Get some rest.”
“You as well, Captain.” However, when Xau paused to look back, Rwvyan was still staring thoughtfully into the space where the Captain had been seated.
“Yes, XO,” Xau paused at the door.
“I have an ex-girlfriend on Idradon. She was a Perfection addict. She…caused a lot of trouble for us.”
“How much trouble?” asked Xau cautiously, failing away the reference to Idradon for later consideration.
“Enough. We…had to leave.” His voice was gravelly and his tone hinted at darker emotions.
“I see. Thank you for the confidence.” Xau said solemnly.
“Huh. The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Rwvyan said simply, saluting Xau with his glass.
Captain Xau returned to his quarters, while the XO returned to his book. The discussion gave them both much to consider.

Characters Attending:
Bishop-1, Dr. Eon Rose, Ditak Kirrin, Dr. Nodagil Maaran, Ereyie Wel, Lord AcRei Burü C’Ge “Pei’Fa”, Lord Rwvyan Nenoic, Lord Serpentce Z’Entropyse Augenmanthias, Lady Kotonaru, and RC-880 “Durendal”.

Session Summary:

Executive Officer’s Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.123:1630 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

Received call from Captain Nadira Torell of the MHT-Gevise Paramour for Captain Ni Shen Xau at 0700, with an invitation to dinner.

Landing party returned to Chadra, including myself, Bishop-1, Ereyie, Durendal, Ditak and Dr. Nodagil. We picked up a distress signal from five survivors of The Khanniption Fit. We have brought them aboard and offered various treatments to ensure their survival and good health.

Personal Log, RES Speaks Softly, 5041.123:1630 I.E.; Chadra; Rwvyan Nenoic recording.

By the Void that spawned us, today was a shitty day. I think anyone who had my day would say the same. Our last trip down to Chadra, we identified some natives and explored a crashed ship. After we got back, both Serpy and I had headaches. You know, the skull splitting, howling, bashing your head against the walls kind. I went to ask Doc Keystone for a painkiller. Like a grenade. Instead I had people (Dr. Rose, Keriwar) casting spells on me. It seems there’s a curse on Chadra. It makes dragons stupid. At least that explains why green dragons are serving a mounts for the local kobold population. None of the Esmer nobles I ever met would consider such a demeaning task.

Keriwar did her praying and cast her spells, and the headache was gone. They cured Serpy’s headache too. Dr. Rose told me they suspected something because they studied some of the brains we brought back. The kobolds here have four lobes. Four! Two is the usual number. The dragon’s brain we brought back was smooth, like an animal’s.

They checked out the rest of the landing party, but no one else seemed to be affected. Serpy did some digging and found a study someone did on four lobed monkeys on a moon somewhere. It had heavy radiation. Then he started looking for info in the records of The Khanniption Fit, to see if any of their crew had been ill. They had a half-green on the ship. Their records said he caught some disease and went crazy, animalistic even. They had to remove his spellware and optics.

That’s when Keriwar cast a Portent spell. Here’s what she said:
Portent Statement: We plan on making peaceful contact with the natives.
Power is supreme among apprentices bygone; little kith share their ancestors covetous; derogated colossi heed only brawn; erstwile pets are both cautious and curious; warped keepers care for only duty forgotten.

Serpy tried casting some spells on the planet. . I have to give it to him. He’s an asshole, but he’s really good at what he does. It’s got an aura of divine, necromantic magic. The whole. Freaking. Planet. There is some source sustaining it, but he couldn’t tell what it was.
That created some complications for our plan. None of the other half-dragons are willing to risk the curse, even though Keriwar can remove it. We had to do a revised roster for the landing party.

Around 0700 this morning, I was on the bridge delivering Yevon’s morning coffee before the start of my shift, and we got a contact from the Paramour. Captain Nadira Torell called to speak with Captain Xau. That went over like an orc at a dwarvish kegger. She invited him to come to the Paramour for dinner. Captain Ni Shen invited her to the Speaks in turn. The conversation petered out, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing from them again.

We got a landing party together. This time it was myself, the Rook, Ereyie, Durendal, Tic Tac and Nodagil. We got down there and prepared to land in the same clearing as last time, but when Ereyie scanned it, we discovered that the kobolds had been busy little buggers. They’d been hollowing it out underground, so when a ship landed, the ground would collapse.

Instead, we flew back to the crash site of The Khanniption Fit, and did some more poking around to see if there was another spot we could land. We pulled the starcaster, in case it should prove useful. Before long, we picked up power signs to the southeast. We headed there and found five survivors from the crash. We got all five aboard, including the remains of one of their companions. We located some cliffs about 25 kilometers east, but didn’t have time to check them out.

The survivors are a male half-orc called Calgary Deluth, a female human named Ria Starr, a male human named Sammual Tomms, a female lizardman named Kogg, and a male half-elf called Rydeel Redwin. Redwin was unconscious when we loaded him into the Cudgel. They also insisted in bringing their dwarven friend, Morthik’s, body along. Refused to leave without him even though space was limited.

We put them through decontamination procedures in the sick bay, treating them for things like dehydration, poisons, rashes and leeches (Leeches!?!?!?!?!!!). Now they’re bunking in the rec room, which screws up everybody’s workout routine. Pei’Fa is out with them, gathering more information about the planet, and about them. Koto restricted them to specific areas of the ship.

Finally, on my way to bed I stepped in something disgusting. Pei’Fa brought back one of those compys, as a sample for Dr. Rose, except now he’s made a pet of the damned thing, and wearing it on his shoulder. He’s got a lead attaching it to his ear, like a freaking Esmer noble with their little faerie necklaces. It’s shitting everywhere. I mean, what a perfect ending to the day. Typical.



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