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The Cleon Memorial Library For discussion of Traveller fiction, both official and fan-written. Fan-written drafts are explicitly welcome.

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Old August 11th, 2018, 07:20 PM
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Sir Amaud Reynard stepped off the Far Nebula’s cargo ramp none the worse for wear. Boots caked with week old mud, clothes, armor and a body that also hadn’t been touched by water in over two weeks. The rank of the Nebula’s interior was partially flushed with a warm afternoon breeze wafting from off shore at the Downport facility.

The fuel technician tried to hide his scrunched nose as he handed Reynard a clipboard with a laundry list of items for the battered type-R; fuel, coolant, waste purge, recharge of life support and a general cleaning of all of the Nebula’s subsystems.

In the background men in battle fatigues carrying duffle bags and kit cases side stepped the mortician’s loader bots putting full body bags into caskets as they left the Nebula without so much as a word. Some had loved ones come to pick them up, others simply vanished into the starport’s interior corridors to get a room, a cab, or go about to their next destination. The “goodbyes” were said before they landed, and Reynard had a reputation for not liking sentimentality. They came at his beck and call when the emperor necessitated, and when the Imperial mailed fist was unavailable in the form of the army, navy or marines, it was the traditional knight that took up the role of hired gun without the title of mercenary.

This particular instance was a the usual smash-and-grab rescue, only the object of rescue was already dead, and the Sword World’s welcoming had done their best to down the Nebula as she orbited the LZ pummeling the enemy positions with her twin pulse laser on one of the northern islands just below the arctic circle. The Sword Worlds have been known to create places unusual and distant to house political prisoners, including kidnap victims or other political undesirables. For this OP the victim was a young man and his friends who had taken the family type-S out for a run after graduation. Straying into Sword space on a dare they set down on Iron, a water world. Officially Iron was a natural preserve, but it didn’t prevent the confederation from setting up hidden prisons. The local noble had sent out parties to search for his son and friends, tapped into the scouts logs, at which point the APB was posted at the local starport.

Reynard responded, called up his retainers, and enacted on his commission. It cost him a large chunk of change, and a few lives, both of which would be replenished courtesy the nobility, who would then be reimbursed by the royal house itself. It was a mechanism apart from the marshal’s service, apart from the IISS special security division, apart from Imperial Naval Intelligence, and even apart from Imperial Intelligence. It was old fashioned, traditional, but functional. Reynard, unlike the millions (perhaps billions) of honorary knights across the Imperium and elsewhere, had actual military obligations, and when called upon was obligated to muster his men-at-arms, squires, and even other knights and their retainers depending on the size of the job.

They were competition for the plethora of private mercenary units, a good number of which had honorary knights on their strength, but weren’t empowered to muster forces on behalf of the Emperor. Reynard, in this sense, was a real knight, like the select few again scattered across the Imperium and beyond.

He scratched his name again and again, and then initialed several sections again and again on the veritable novel of forms on the clipboard he was holding all the while the whir and clamor of androids, robots and real live workers did their thing by hooking up hoses, power lines, and clanking on the hull with tools as they removed plates to get at the Nebula’s inner mechanical guts.

“Where else.” Reynard flatly stated, commanding rather than asking.

“Here, I’ll have a look.” The young twenty-something technician took the clipboard and thumbed through each form with a professional eye. “Did you want extra coverage on the purge, in case anything happens while you’re in jump?”

“No.” Reynard flatly stated. Insurance scams came in all forms. Any chance to touch a starship’s captain bank account, although some ports were more notorious than others. Reynard strode over to the life support tanker, grabbed the potable water hose, and doused himself from head to toe not caring how cold the water was.

The tech knew he should have said something, but given the body bags, weapons, combat damage to the starship, and just the whole vibe of the situation, he kept his mouth shut as he checked the clipboard, saw the official Imperial seal of nobility and knighthood next to Reynard’s name, and stared at him for a second as he did a double take between the ship’s master dousing himself with a hose and the clipboard in his hands.

Reynard threw the hose down, wiped his hands over his face and back over his hair before shaking his head like a doused animal, whipping droplets this way and that before pulling out a comb and giving his long dark brown strand a temporary grooming before walking back to the tech.

It was good to be alive. He had lost several men, but such was life, or death. He didn’t like it, would have to send out letters of condolences and fill out numerous insurance forms, but unlike the honorary knight, he had to work for a living, and serving the Imperium was part of his role.

Reynard walked over to the tech gawking at him, “Are we done?” he flatly asked, his calm low all business tone could have been interpreted as a demand.

A starship thundered in the background as it reached for altitude, the tech tried to say something, and thought of blaming the ambient noise of twin nozzles pushing several hundred tons of steel into orbit and beyond, but mere uttered an “Uhh…”

Reynard wasn’t sure what to make of the man’s reaction. He never could fathom why some people starred at him slack jawed, while others had no problem talking to him as a normal human being. “Do I need to sign anything else?” Reynard clarified.

“Ah, no. Nope. No, you don’t. We’re good.” The tech finally mustered courage to respond, “Did you need anything else?” He fought the urge to stammer. “My company wants to remind you that we do pack ships with the best premade five star cuisine, if you’re interested that is.”

“No. I’m good.” Reynard then walked back towards the ramp. Talking with the tech was going no where, and he had things to do—the grim bitter task of contacting the families of his fallen retainers, tapping the local nobility for replacements, and all the odds and ends that went with knighthood, including contacting the families of the teenagers he was supposed to be rescuing.

Reynard was of mix parentage. His mother was from Core, born of high birth and something else that gave her status. She was mostly Vilani while his father was mostly French and something else that put Terran blood to mingle with his Vilani heritage. A lot of Earthers came out to the Marches to make their fortune, and his father was no different. Only unlike the droves that spent money on a hope and dream, Jacques Reynard had actually made a name for himself serving in one of the Marches frontier wars. Knighted and landed for his service, Amaud Reynard did not inherit the title, but was given the option of serving with the same noble’s hussars in a pet anti-piracy project that the navy sated it was too busy to go after. That, and said pirates were a full subsector away outside the Imperium—out of sight, out of mind.

Rare earths, elements, rare non-Imperial high tech from afar, otherwise known as the Florian League, were deemed valuable enough to defend the trade lanes against incursions. The truth of the matter came out later. A combination of graft, paying off some of the local admiralty, and Reynard himself and the ship he served on being used as bait to draw out the pirate flagship, and a battle in some unknown patch of space light years from any civilized world, all made for a thrilling spy novel in the courtroom when the prosecutors brought evidence and witnesses to bear.

Reynard and the entire crew were knighted. Most retired or moved onto other matters, taking the knighthood as an honorary title that allowed them a few freebees as they travelled the Imperium. But Amaud Reynard was not a hired mercenary but part of a noble’s personal (clandestine) house unit, and his knighthood had deeper meaning than being given a fancy title with a few perks.

“Sir Reynard?” a lone figure, well dressed—borderline foppish—some gray peppering his otherwise well groomed dark strands atop a thin build, called with audible authority as he approached the type-R’s open doors and lowered ramp. “Sir Reynard?”

Reynard paused and turned to see who it was. An unfamiliar figure, but he seemed to carry himself with self import. Mentally Reynard sighed to himself before turning back down the ramp to meet the man.

“Oh good, I caught you. I do apologize.” The man had a smile, as if oblivious to the caskets being glided out of the hold and onto waiting transports.

“Can I help you?” Reynard’s tone was flat and even keeled, again all business.

“Ah, yes, I’m Reginald Stewart. Sir Reginald Stewart, to be precise.” He extended a formal open hand.

Reynard shook it once, then turned back to the Nebula as the last of the caskets was being taken out, along with another loader android filled with personal belongings of the recently deceased.
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Old August 11th, 2018, 07:20 PM
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Stewart seemed somewhat surprised by Reynard’s indifference and quickened his step to chase after him. “I saw the notice that your ship had landed. We’re of the same, order I believe.” His tone was upper crust, as was his manner.

Reynard stopped, and turned half way up the ramp, “Mister Stewart—”

“Sir Stewart, if you please.” Stewart’s grin was more of a gentle reminder of etiquette than an actual expression of affection.

Reynard ignored the correction, “I’ve just come back from an op. An unsuccessful op where I lost a third of my retainers, so unless you have an emergency of some kind that requires me, I’d just as soon get back to my ship.”

“Oh me, you’re part of a mercenary unit, then?”

Reynard angrily chagrinned, but otherwise kept his composure. “No, I’m not a mercenary.” He gestured to the last of the coffins being loaded into a grav freighter hovering some meters away from the ramp, “Those men there served me on behalf of the Emperor. And now I’ve got to go write condolences and fill out a ton of paperwork.”

Stewart’s eyes widened, “I do apologize, you’re with the marshal’s service or Scout’s special security, then.”

Reynard audibly sighed, “No, sir. I’m a knight, now if you’ll excuse me…”

“Good god! You mean you’re an actual knight?!”

Reynard had had enough, “You know, something mister, you’re getting on my nerves.” And he turned and walked back towards the Far Nebula’s open maw.

“But I saw you get the silver cluster at last year’s ball at … for … oh.” Stewart paused, then stopped realizing the decoration Reynard had received wasn’t for some social service, but an actual military service medal. He watched Reynard vanish through an open portal inside the Nebula’s hold, and stood there dumbfounded for several heartbeats before reluctantly turning back down the ramp, offering the occasional glance backwards before heading back into the starport terminal.

Night had come. Reynard laid on his bed with his cabin door closed. The retainers that served as his crew were gone, so there was no point in keeping the door open nor closed. The Bay doors had been long since sealed up, and the airlocks locked. There was something about the solitude of his vessel that comforted him after a failed mission.

He briefly went over the situation report in his head, and wondered if he had missed anything—any detail that might have changed the outcome. No. Nothing. Iron had fortifications for its prison camps that cost Reynard the lives of his men and a few Vargr.

He was tempted to bitterly muse on how typical a Sword move it was to disguise a game preserve as a planet wide prison camp. But no, that wasn’t fair. More like prison camps or fortified detention centers were nested—secreted—among the flora and fauna of a world with lush green forests and deep blue oceans. A far from Mithril, what some called the ski resort from the underworld, but there were billions of worlds far colder, and it wouldn’t surprise Reynard, in fact he just assumed it as fact that there were more installations on all of the unsettled Sword Worlds. If he was in charge that’s what he would do.

He figured his mistake was assuming that the detention center would be a holding cell attached to the starport office. A local jail of sorts. Still, he took his men in full kit, and was confronted not just with Sword World’s finest armed with bargain versions of military grade lasers and so called “Gauss” guns, but larger bored electromagnetic guns that, like their chemical propellant cousins, actually spat fire and sparks as they hurled projectiles at near relativistic speeds, cutting into his retainers.

Reynard then found himself wondering why the defenses were even beefed up. Even though they repulsed Reynard and his warband, they wouldn’t be enough to stop a well organized Imperial MEU. Well, strategy wasn’t his big point, at least not on an operational scale. His expertise was metting out justice on lawless worlds, rescuing the occasional strayed and stranded traveller (who could be a fair damsel in distress), and essentially doing all the things knights used to do eons ago before mankind had reached for the stars. Still, it made him curious.

There were grumblings of tensions being ratchetted up between the consulate and Imperium, and the Swords siding with the Zhos would help explain the reinforced concrete pillboxes and ballistic grade sloped crenellations, all mostly hidden by the foliage on Iron. But Reynard shoved the notion aside, figuring he was getting way ahead of himself.

He reflected some more, wondering if keeping the Nebula orbiting the LZ instead of on the ground had been a smart move or something that had cost him lives. Again, Reynard figured a few extra minutes, in the long run, would not have mattered. A few lives might have been saved, but it otherwise might have cost him a different set of lives than the names that had fallen.

Even sealed up in his cabin he could hear and feel the muted thunder of starship’s taking off and landing. He hit the remote to open his cabin door, and the roar of engines became ever so slightly pronounced, and the multicolored rays of various lights from ships, buildings, signs and whatever else, dimly glowed on the otherwise white wall outside his cabin. I siren or a warning? That was the nature of the galaxy, or at least the explored region of it.
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Old August 30th, 2018, 07:35 PM
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Reynard stood in the audience foyer of his lordship’s palace. More than a grand meeting hall, but not quite a throne room. Vaulted arched ceilings with frescos of mythical imagery, marble floors polished to the essence of glass, it was an environment Reynard was familiar with, but not his preferred domain. The confines of a ship travelling the stars, being able to look out at a billion plus stars and decide where his fate lay, that was home, not the extreme opulence of class and privilege.

Greenery outside, marble statues, groomed hedges, and all the other trappings of wealth, including just the sheer size of the estate, was enough to put any prince into a state of envy. But Reynard was not a prince. Standing in his ever so rare dress uniform with epaulets, sash, gold braids, and everything else that the moot denoted as signifying rank and status, he felt out of place. Not uncomfortable as such, but a desire to be in jump or on some world other than this one searching for new recruits to his cause.

But fate seemed to choose this path for him. The Scouts had been his true desire, but one circumstance after another forced him into taking up the mantle of knighthood, and serving as one of the non-clandestine, high-profile saviors of the Imperium. Only Reynard can’t remember the last time anyone took note of anything he ever did. Occasionally there would be some writeup of what he and other true knights had done in terms of righting wrongs, but whether it was old fashioned, undesirable, socially awkward in an anachronistic sense, or some combination of those factors and others, Reynard could not say, but the end result was that few of the common everyday masses took notice. Honorary knights gifting money to some charity or dubbing a some young local prodigy seemed to make headlines, not smashing drug cartels, terrorist cells, or even meeting the rare duel to the death (still “a thing” however rare).

He heard the faint echo of a collection of foot steps, like a small army, pounding the marble off in the distance. Down one of the equally ornate and cavernous hallways came that small army. Men and Vargr dressed in their best refinery, gold braid and epaulets with red sashes around their waist led by a more academic looking individual replete with glasses, but similarly attired and adorned with imperial dress and filigree about the coat.

“Sir Reynard of Vincennes, of his majesties own, his lordship wishes to present to you new retainers for your accompaniment militaria.” The squire eyed Reynard with an inquisitive stare, as if expecting a reply. But Reynard was silent. The squire continued, “ You may examine them, Sir Reynard. Uhm, at your convenience, now or elsewhere, and else when.”

Reynard was preoccupied staring at the floor, kicking his feet in impatient exasperation, though not aimed at either squire nor the dozen or so retainers he had brought with him. Reynard manage to look up and give an almost pained grin. In his early thirties he had an odd mix of youth and world-weariness about him, as if forced into the most prestigious and glamorous of occupations against his will, but bearing the title and duty with all the strength of a man on the verge of retirement.

Reynard mustered his comport and stepped forward, eyeing the first man. “Your name?”

“Lieutenant Lance Tasso, come of his majesties Imperial navy upon your summons, my lord.”

“Lance? Tasso? Your parents come from where on Earth?”

“My father was from the Mediterranean protectorate, the Greek provinces, my lord. My mother from further north before leaving off world to come to the marches….uh, my lord.”

“You can leave the ‘lord’, I’m a knight, nothing more.” Reynard gave another encouraging grin before stepping to the next man.

“Your name?” Reynard kept up the appearance of being joyed by meeting new personnel for his crew and unit.

“Samuel Baker, Sir Reynard. Come to you of his majesties Imperial army upon your summons.”

“Your expertise?”

“Cross trained in both tactical and engineering, my lord, ah, sir knight.”

“Demolitions?”

“Yes, sir, and expertise in a variety of small arms, notably foreign direct energy.”

“Oh, so you prefer the infamous Zhodani laser assault weapon, then?”

“No, sir Reynard, I prefer the upgraded rifles issued to mainline units. I just happened to know about foreign hardware.”

“A percussion man, then?”

“Consulate tactical doctrine is for a weapon that works in all environments, where heat can be radiated into space and not stored in the weapon’s material. Lasers don’t heat their barrels like your normal rifle, but lasers tend to lose its potency on worlds with denser or rich atmospheres. A bullet doesn’t care too much what the air is made of.”

“Very good.” Reynard grinned again, cleared his throat, sighed, then stepped back and spoke out loud, although his tone was poigniantly aimed at the squire. “I see no Aslan among the rank.”

“None available, Sir Reynard.” The squire leaned forward in anticipation of answering more queries. “I can make a special request to his lordship. That is if you so request it.”

“No.” Reynard answered, somewhat exasperated. Then regaining his composure, “No. No need. These men will do.”

The Squire continued trying to fathom Reynard’s intent, “Was there something else, Sir Reynard? Something amiss?”

Then something else hit Reynard. “No Vargr.”

The Squire furled his brow as he tilted his head slightly, “A … preference, sir knight?”

“No, just another observation.”

“I do apologize, sir knight, did you desire a Vargr retainer?”

“Not as such. I do find that it helps to have a Vargr or two when on the frontier and beyond.”

“There were a number available. I can double check the roster, but it would put you at over strength, sir knight. His lordship would require you to pay for extra personnel from your own budget.”

Reynard cocked gave a long glance at the squire and cocked an eyebrow.

“His stipulation, Sir Reynard, and as per protocol.” The Squire dug further for more explanation, “As per tradition, you are to provide retainers and the expense, lest sponsored by a lord who will support you through his collected taxes.”

Reynard repressed a chagrin, but looked at the rank and file as if lost in thought and contemplation, but was attempting to hide a rising anger with the morays or tradition. If he needed extra men it would have to come out of Reynard’s own pocket.

“Will there be anything else, Sir Reynard?”

“Light armor, vaccum ready, HEL guns, military grade power packs, not that mercenary rubbish. Is that understood?”

“Very good, Sir Reynard. Any other requirements?”

Reynard stifled an angry sigh, and again put on the faux polite heir of being satisfied, but the context of the exchange was all too clear to all present.

Reynard grinned once more, “No, have them report to my ship.”

Reynard all but stormed out, his European pride and ego partially wounded by the financial aspect as he stepped out into the overcast midday amidst a the pleasant mixture of floral aromas and the scents of other flora coupled with a light breeze that seemed to push bright sky blue whole in the blanket of white above.



Kalebru was a barren world, mostly tundra with pockets of forest. In the midst of a perpetual ice age the local inhabitants hunted the fauna that roamed the plains in a kind of skinned fur that put the thickest mains in known space to shame. In the IISS’s last databurst the world was listed off hands, but for no apparent reasons. Given it’s proximity to the Altarean Confederation and other civilized interstellar states, there was a good chance it was kept as a reserve, but with minimal or no patrols to enforce the quarantine. Reynard slid the behemoth type-R slid into her atmosphere under powered grav flight, pierced the local overcast blanketing one of the northern continents, and slid her to a gentle stop on snow covered path of ice covering a lake that tapered to a snow covered shore.

Reynard checked the briefing again, and went over it with his men one last time. The real reason this was a hands off world was because like the Swords this reserve doubled as a political prison. The Far Nebula’s sensor suite hadn’t detected any scans, but that didn’t mean that no one had seen them slip onto the world. It was a calculated risk with every op, but Reynard was willing to risk it. Partially for honor, or so he told himself, but mostly because there was no way around it. With most extraction ops he tended to gamble on there being no nearby patrol, and by nearby no one within a twelve hour reach at full burn of the LZ.

Even if he had been detected, it still gave him precious hours to crash into the facility and grab whatever person, trinket, device or combination of prizes to haul back to the ship and make a loud getaway back into jump. And given the secluded nature of the system no X-boat equivalent would be jumping out system to warn anyone of his presence and actions. Meaning that a getaway, if he could just make it to jump, was assured.

If. He hated the word, but servicing the Imperium with skill, strength and wit meant that random chance had to play a part. From a rescue victim who had fallen in love with their captors to the odd mechanical failure of some key component, or even a gun jamming at a critical moment, it was all a risk, and hence hung on the word “if”.

The massive flam doors unfolded to the bitter cold air as the ramp extended forward and tilted down into the soft white with an equally soft muted crunch. Reynard let the world’s mostly normal gravity pull his body as he quickly stepped down the horizontally grooved metal ramp and into the snow, dressed head to toe in a light armor with notable black gaps between hard shells for ease of movement and flexibility.
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