In the Lady's Service
In the Lady’s Service
It’s August 31st, 2050 chummers. You started your military service in the fall of 2049 as part of the military arm of the Tir Tairngire Peace Force, marking your time as part of your required service to the state. The 2050 Rite of Progress in late May confirmed you in your current social rank – nothing to write home about, but you’re young. The big deal coming out of the Rite of Progress was Mealla Oakforest’s rise from Duchess to Prince, finally matching her husband Prince Aithne Oakforest. Unlike her husband, she didn’t get a seat on the Council of Princes. Her rise was anticipated, expected. You thought little of it at the time. It surprised you when you were picked up in an unmarked car and taken to a site where you met with her. Each of you individually, not knowing about the others. At least, not yet.
She knew you. Knew your family. She’d done her homework – that much was clear. Details were dropped, others hinted at that made it clear she had relationships with each of your families, relationships that had worked to your benefit. Her comments filled in gaps, made things click, explained some of the comments your family had made, when they thought no one was listening, well, no one except maybe you. All of it was discrete. Never openly talked about and the most her name ever came up was in reference to the news. She had an offer though for you, one that promised great things… in the future. She needed Paladins, people she could trust. For now though, Paladins who weren’t openly acknowledged. The initial excitement of being offered Paladinhood with all the status and opportunities that came with it dimmed with the revelation of its secret nature. She needed agents, but in exchange for service until 2057 and the next Rite of Progression, she would provide funds, support, contacts and when time lobbying for advancement to Noble. Enough to get you well-established. She would even guarantee an opportunity to be released from her service at that time should you so desire it. Staying on though would have its benefits. You would need to trust her. Trust her even when it didn’t make sense or when things went wrong. You’d have opportunities to do things beyond your social rank, though she wouldn’t get any more specific than that. So. Were you in?
You chose to enter her service, swear the oath and see where things led. You were surprised to discover that most of your squad had agreed to serve too. Coincidence? Had she arranged to have you all in the same unit? How far did her influence reach and how long had she been planning this? She didn’t say. You never knew. Time passed. Things were going well. You’d just been promoted within the last week when your unit spotted someone dressed for Ducal rank, staggering along and shimmers indicating likely a pair of Bandersnatch in pursuit. At least that’s what you reported you believed them to be given their natural camouflage ability and the ripples you saw. You called in what you saw, you swear you did, and receiving approval from your lieutenant (a Count) your squad went after them. You were out of position for no more than 5 minutes when your radios started squawking for backup asking why you were out of position. A Ford-Canada Bison had barreled through your expected position so rather than the net being closed they made it clear. You pursued to the best of your ability, but it was too late.
In the debrief after you were interrogated for why you were out of position. The radio traffic recorded clearly indicated identifying the fast moving vehicle and calling on you to aid in stopping it. There was nothing from any of you whatsoever. The lieutenant didn’t have your back when you say you called it in. No trace was found of the person you said you saw. The investigation was thorough, and you heard that Prince Aithne Oakforest was personally interested and angry about what happened, though you never found out why. Just that his ire focused on you. With no evidence any of you’d been bribed, the merits of your promotions confirmed, and the consistency and sincerity of your story, no charges were pressed, though it was clear that a career in the military wouldn’t be recommended. The one upside to the incident is that all of you were granted the opportunity to leave the Tir if you wished, something not commonly granted to individuals of your status. Perhaps that’s why Mealla asked you to go to Seattle, infiltrate the Ancients and get involved in smuggling things between Seattle and Portland. Simply making the best of the opportunity, and giving you a chance to help protect the Tir from the inside. Not the work you expected as her Paladins, but clearly she has a plan and it’s not healthy to disappoint a Prince.