Alaia Skyhawk: Well, another new fic, though this won't be updated as often as my ToS and Zelda fics. I hope you like it. Also note, I'm setting this fic so that it comes after the game, and also has leeway to be after the rumoured sequel.
I don't own Beyond Good & Evil or any of it's characters, I do however own any OCs used in this fic so please don't steal them.
Beyond Good & Evil Lies a Haunted Past
This fic is going to be very heavy on spoilers, so be warned.
Hyllis, a world the Domz should have overcome like an unrelenting tide washing away a drowning victim... But instead at Hyllis the tide was stopped, by what would seem to be the smallest of pebbles in its path. A small group of individuals who spoke out in rebellion against the Alpha Section, revealing those supposed protectors to be the pawns of the Domz. Their words spurred the population into action, creating a rising tide as formidable in its own right as the Domz invasion of their world... but most important of all to those who now sought the help of that group was the pictures that had accompanied the words... pictures taken in supposedly secure and impenetrable areas of the Alpha Section's bases... How had the Iris Network done it?
Chapter 1: A Change of Circumstances
The man sat there, fingers massaging his temples as the eternal backdrop of hooting hovercar horns, chatting people, and roaring engines battered against his ears aggravating an already thumping headache. He was at a table in the exclusive street cafe La Fleur, which true to its name was decorated with a repeating motif of the distinct and garish jungle flowers from Rhilon VI, though what jungle flowers had to do with a cafe named in the ancient language of the long gone Earth Nation of France was beyond him. Trying his best to ignore the lurid combination of hot pinks, electric blues, and glaring yellows all around him, Agent Garenth waited with continually thinning patience for his contact to arrive.
The waitress brought over a cup of herbal tea, which after running his wrist com over the payment reader she held out he gratefully began to sip. Letting it sooth his raging migraine and ease the tension in his muscles, he started to relax a little.
There was a bleep from his wrist com, and after a few button presses the voice recording of a news flash sounded in the associated earpiece he wore.
"The Governor of Centro V's Fratlir Province exposed as a slave broker. See the proof in Centro Iris: Issue six five nine two."
He very nearly spat a mouthful of that tea into the back of the head of the lady sat at the adjacent table. Mentally cursing, he resumed sipping.
Dammit! How do they do that? The Bureau of Central Intergalactic Intelligence has been watching him for years! We found nothing definite enough to justify closer investigation of him, since diplomatic policies meant we couldn't do so without offending him and several other highly placed officials... Not to mention even if one had been permitted, getting inside his estates and corporate warehouses would have been a near impossible task for the majority of our infiltration teams. Just how do Iris do it? Send one or two agents who get into those places like there was an open door waiting for them, take the pictures, and get out again all without getting caught...
"Let me guess. You're wondering how the Iris Network have pulled off yet another expose in an area where the BCII has its hands tied." Garenth looked up, setting his teacup down on its saucer as the nondescript young man sat down opposite him. The man laughed, and then lowered his voice so that only the agent could hear him. "Ah, but you see, we let our agents infiltrate using whatever means they deem will work best... and not what drill training and espionage protocol says will work best like the BCII's agents do. You are all too book bound, with too many finicky rules to slow your agents down. While at Iris we have three simple rules. Never back out from a mission unless you know there's no possible way to continue forward. Never act carelessly and always plan your moves ahead of time. Never cause a fuss unless you know you can wrap it up and silence it, unless the noise is to your benefit... Three rules, all of which are simple to follow and don't clog up an agent's thinking... Oh, that and the fact we don't give a damn about offending the high and mighties. They can stew in their offended sensibilities as much as they like for all we care."
Garenth frowned, blue eyes regarding this self assured man who was happily poking fun at the BCII.
"Can you answer my questions or not, Whippet? I don't have all day."
The man, Whippet as his codename was, sighed.
"The various Sections of the Iris Network are autonomous, so if you want the help of agents from a specific Section you'll have to contact that Section directly. If they agree, they'll then contact you shortly after via a Watcher who will act as your go between. After that, they'll ask the agents themselves to see if they're interested. If they're not, you can either accept help from any other agents that are... or take a hike." The frown deepened, though Whippet ignored it. "Still, you were pretty adamant, so I'll give you the benefit of a doubt. Here's the contact you need to get in touch with the Hyllis Section. Go to South City, Pedestrian District. You'll find him in the Akuda Bar, upper floor. His name is Peepers, and he runs the three coconut monty. Tell him 'Safe and sound in its shell, the precious pearl is the slave of the currents'. He'll notify a Watcher to follow you and approach you at an opportune time... And don't bother trying to get names and faces out of him. He only knows agents by their codenames, and he's blind so he has no idea what they look like. Hence why he works as the open contact. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some business to attend to."
The man got up, walking away whistling cheerfully. Gulping the last of his tea, Garenth also got up, walking away in the opposite direction, tapping away on his wrist com to alert the BCII that he was on his way back to base...
Centro V's office of the Bureau of Central Intergalactic Intelligence was a discrete building. Its front plain and rather bland, typical of city office blocks anywhere in the crowded metropolis' of many worlds across the Nine Galaxies Federation. True to that image, the lobby was also bland, with the mandatory bored-looking clerk sat at the service desk. As Agent Garenth entered, he ignored the clerk, for only people who didn't know that the 'Office for the Implementation of Intermediary Rights of Sentient Minorities' was a front would actually go up to him... Poor sod.
Hands tucked into the pockets of his mid length black coat, Garenth walked over to one of the elevators, pulling a hand out when he got there to run his wrist com over the hidden scanner panel below the usual 'up' and 'down' buttons. The elevator opened, and after stepping inside, the doors closing with unusual swiftness behind him, Garenth used that same hand to lift his dark blond hair away from his face to permit the facial recognition system, that was hooked up to the elevator's security camera, to analyse his features more easily. A couple of moments later and the elevator began to move down, even though he had specified no floor via voice command... Then again, on the list of floors available for voice command the ground floor was at the very bottom. There was nothing listed below that.
Hands once again in his pockets, he waited until the elevator eventually stopped and opened its doors to reveal a bright hallway of white walls and steel polished to a silvery mirror shine. Nodding in greeting to those he passed, he strolled through this hidden subterranean facility, heading for the office of the Centro V Section's BCII Chief. When he arrived, the door opened without him having to announce his presence. But then, the Chief was never one to be caught off guard by a visitor.
"Come in, Mark One Garenth, and report."
Dark blond hair falling partly into his eyes, he did as he was asked, sitting himself in the chair that faced the man of steel behind the desk. That man was Dalen Trusco. His hair jet black even though he was nearing eighty years old, those deep-as-sea blue eyes as sharp as ever. He was the longest serving member of the BCII on the current roster, and for all that he wasn't Head of the BCII there was no one in the organisation that would ignore him if he spoke out against a proposed mission. He had too much experience for that.
Resting his hands in his lap as he sat up straight, Garenth met those wise old eyes and began to speak.
"My Iris contact met me at the La Fleur as arranged. As per the BCII's request for aid in investigating the Alpha Sections here on Centro V, on Dallast VII, and on Dinveran II, I was told that we will have to apply to the Hyllis Section directly, as the various sections of the Iris Network operate autonomously. He informed me that to contact them we must approach a blind man known as Peepers in the Akuda Bar, Pedestrian District, South City, and recite the following. 'Safe and sound in its shell, the precious pearl is the slave of the currents'. At this time, Peepers would contact a local Watcher who will then act as a go between, between the BCII and the Hyllis Section of the Iris Network."
Chief Dalen mulled this over, his expression thoughtful as he swung his chair to face the holomap suspended in the tri-d field at the end of his desk. On that map was marked the current known positions of the Domz Armada, a line of red points forming a long and deep band across the edge of the Andromeda Galaxy, a line that hadn't moved since the rout of the Alpha Sections at Hyllis. Also marked on that map were close to a dozen orange points. The worlds where the Alpha Sections were. The Alpha Sections had declared that the Domz must have subverted those at Hyllis, and that the rest of their organisation was not under such control. But the BCII had its suspicions. Here on Centro V, on Dallast VII, and on Dinveran II, three worlds close to the now stationary line of once advancing invasion forces, things didn't seem quite right. Things might be normal on the surface, but observation of the slums areas of those worlds had revealed that people in those areas were going missing with frightening regularity. The Slum Dwellers were unregulated and unregistered, and no one knew the exact population in those areas. And without birth records, it was impossible to prove that people were in fact going missing... At least not prove it satisfactorily to the Law and Order forces of those worlds.
"Very well, go to Hyllis and make contact. If you can, get as much information from them regarding the Domz Invasion of their world as possible. We know from that picture of General Keck that a Domz Priest was there, though which one we can't be sure. It must have been a high ranking one though, for the failure of the invasion at Hyllis to bring the armada to a standstill for the past six years. That's something else that has puzzled the BCII... How did the Iris Network Agents get close enough to it to kill it? And how did they manage to kill it for that matter? That information, and the aid of the agents who carried out that mission, could well be key to stopping the Domz once and for all. If we can find and kill the rest of their priests, it will literally be like cutting the head off the beast. Without the head to direct it, the rest will simply collapse. We haven't had a chance like this since Abraham Ketalan and his men carried out the raid fifty years ago. The one that stole Shauni Domz Thiendra from the Domz High Priest. Without her, their key power source, their advance was slowed to a crawl compared with the rampage they carried out prior to that... If only we hadn't lost her..."
Garenth mulled this over as well, him having high enough security clearance to know about her. As far as the lower ranks in the BCII knew, Shauni was locked away in the most hidden and secret facility in the Nine Galaxies Federation... A pity it wasn't true, it would have made things so much simpler.
"The Iris Network have remained adamant that they have no idea where the three agents who stole her from our secure facility twenty-seven years ago took her. The three severed their ties with the Brinstra Section the moment they left to carry out the raid. It's ironic that it should be a freelance organisation that saved us. The Iris Network warned the BCII that the Domz had discovered where Shauni was being kept. Pointing out that they themselves had known since just three years after we stole her from the Domz. Barely six hours after they took her, the Domz attacked the facility only to find she was already gone. If not for those three Iris agents, we probably wouldn't be alive to have this conversation. Those three agents have done an incredible job keeping her hidden for twenty-seven years, with no one at all knowing where they've hidden her. She's not exactly easy to hide, not with the size of the containment pod and the gas cylinders of nerve inhibitor to keep her subdued. Just managing to keep up a supply of those undetected is a major feat in itself. That stuff isn't exactly easy to manufacture."
Chief Dalen sighed.
"The Iris Network and their agents are in a class of their own. A class that, when you come down to it, the Bureau of Central Intergalactic Intelligence can't compete with. Their small autonomous Sections, Sections that can still band together efficiently for larger missions, have far greater manoeuvrability than our own bloated system. We have hundreds of agents on each world, and on each world the handful of Iris agents time and again will find things we have missed, or were unable to uncover due to the mass of bureaucracy we must plough through... And that is why I am stripping you of your rank as a Mark One Agent." Garenth tensed, eyes filled with shock. Dalen lifted a hand to keep him in his seat. "Let me finish... I am stripping you of that rank because I'm giving you a rank and position that the BCII has recently created at my suggestion. You are now a Freelance One, with clearance the same as a Mark One. From now on you answer only to the Section Chiefs. No order that doesn't come directly from one of us is to be followed, for we will send nothing to you via a courier. Once given a mission you, and those like you, will carry it out as you see fit with no need to follow protocol. You will retain your immunity to the law, so don't fear stepping on the toes of local authorities, though try not to if you can. The BCII had a hard time pushing this through as it is without you stirring up trouble in that department.
"The Freelance Division will remain small, at most no more than two or three agents per world. That limit is the only reason we were able to get the Nine Galaxies Federation to accept the idea. To put it simply, you are the BCII's equivalent of an Iris Agent, except that unlike them you have immunity to the law. You now have the same freedom to act that they do, and can head into areas where diplomacy and politics prevent the BCII from acting. The compromise we had to give the Nine Galaxies Federation is this. Once you head out on a mission you cannot seek aid from the BCII until you either complete it, or are forced to back out and call off the mission completely... That is you will not be permitted to try again. You must use your own wits and skills to build on the initial intelligence reports that you will be provided with, for you will be free to ask for such prior to your setting out on an assignment. This, we hope, will allow the BCII to better deal with matters in areas that have, until now, proven near impossible for us to do so in the past. Do you understand, Freelance Garenth?"
The stunned agent nodded.
A smile came to that old face, those wise old eyes dancing with amusement.
"Very well then, Agent Garenth, head out. A ship is on standby for immediate departure and the tech and information departments are on standby as well to carry out requests for equipment and intel. I will leave the rest up to your discretion."
Now dismissed, Garenth stood up and left the office, a sudden slow rise of determination filling him. Let's just see Whippet poke fun at him the next time they should meet. For now though he had his assignment. Time to see what intel he could get about Hyllis before he became cut off from the BCII for the duration of the coming task...
Alaia Skyhawk: Well I started this on impulse, since I've had the ideas for a long time and replayed BG&E a couple of days ago.