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The Laboring Heir

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Prologue

Every Heiress tended to leave a mark on Alternian history. Sure, they all played out the same grand motions in the end. Rule, go to space, die, repeat, but each one was responsible for shaping a generation. Some created a generation of fear, a generation that constantly looked over their shoulders out of habit. Others, a generation of loyalty, of trolls who believed wholeheartedly in the empire simply because of one competent ruler. Tyzias Entykk, however, created a generation of intrigue.


No one ever saw the heiress. They knew what she looked like, her visage was all over the propaganda posters, but none could testify to their accuracy. She was never seen out and about, she never gave speeches or appeared on camera. She was like a phantom, despite her status not even the craftiest could track her movements. That’s not to say she wasn’t active however. Alternia never saw her face, but the people had other ways of reading her personality. It was well known that she was strict, harsh but fair. Most heiresses dismissed the folly of the higher castes with little more than a light scolding, the courts cared not if a rare and useful blue blood had slaughtered a lowly rust after all. Under Entykk, a blue was far more likely to be hanged for such a crime. Many a high blood had smugly confessed their signs before the court expecting a mere light chastisement, only to be dismissed to death.

Entykk was one of few dreaded by high bloods as much as low bloods.


Whispers about her persisted throughout the streets. Every village, town, and city had its own favorite theory. Some speculated that she was lazy, that her strange judgements were merely half hearted ways of making sure she was remembered. Some believed that she was pragmatic, that the high bloods she sent to death were spies and traitors, and she only had them executed on lighter charges for the sake of reputation. Others still, wondered if existed at all. Maybe she was just a mask worn by a rebel group that’d managed to supplant the government without anyone noticing.


Still, when people pictured Tyzias Entykk, they never pictured the exhausted, hunched over figure burying herself in paperwork and law books. Her glamorous throne was little more than a glorified office chair, her regal robes crumpled by constant slouching. Dark, vaguely pink circles rested beneath her eyes, her crown always threatening to fall off her head. She forwent fine wine and champagne glasses in exchange for an unknown liquid in a mug. Massive tomes of every conceivable form littered the grand library she’d buried herself in. Case studies of all the heiresses before her, history books that many didn’t know existed. Books teaching combat, books preaching the glory of war, forbidden tomes describing the long forgotten dream known as diplomacy. Pages filled with descriptions of the disease known as friendship, right next to massive doorstoppers going over the history of war.


It was rare for an heiress to truly work. There were those who believed they could usurp the Condesce and trained their every waking minute of course,  but they never focused on the people. Or, rather, they never focused on understanding them. The lesser castes would bend to their will anyway, what was there to understand? When one imagined an heiress, they never imagined a labourer. And yet, Tyzias spent another night laboring away in the heart of her liar, studying all that she could find. Trolls of all castes would be shocked to find out what she was up to all this time.

And so, Alternia never saw its heiress, as she'd rather appear before her desk and work then appear before them and lounge. She'd leave behind a legacy of mystery and myth, many wondering if she even existed. Never to be seen by any eyes but her own and those of her lusii.

At least, that would be the case if not for that one fateful night. The night when a small, forgettable, low-blooded town would be lit up by beams of green and red.

Joey Claire might not know it, but she just became a lot more important. 

Chapter Text

A Bad Idea to start off a long night

It was a brisk and quiet night. The cool air nipped a bit at Tagora, in spite of his long sleeves. It wasn’t like he wasn’t dressed for colder weather, but he wasn’t anticipating just how brisk a run down, low blood town could be in the early perigee. Not helping his attitude was the fact that he was dragged out here against his will. “Do I really need to be here for this, Tegiri?”


He was about to add a charge to his sentence instinctually, but bit his tongue. He full well couldn’t simply charge a co-worker like that. He’d be one of the few trolls aware that Tagora had no legal authority to tax him like that. “But of course. Alternian Law, Entykk Division, Tyrian Decree number 413 under Subsection 8 dictates that all teals are to defend as many cases in court as they prosecute before they ascend. You’ve been slacking on the defense side of the court, taking this case could certainly help boost your numbers.” Tagora rolled his eyes. Tegiri would go out of his way to memorize the entire Entykk division wouldn’t he? Workaholic was too good at his job sometimes.


“Well, yes, maybe I’ve been slacking.” Or maybe there just isn’t any profit to be found in defense work. “But, well, I have some good acquaintances in high places.” The word ‘friend' was much too generous. “I’m sure they can line me up with the cases I need.” More like fudge the numbers for him.

“There’s really no need to do this for me.” And I have no intention of repaying you if you do.
Tegiri didn’t catch these hidden meanings and simply brushed him off. “Bah. Dishonorable lay about. You’d do yourself a favor to get this done now and be done with it if it bothers you so much.” Tegiri didn’t wait for a response, simply turning towards the hive the two were standing in front if and rapping on the door. “Dammek…. uh, the rebel known as Dammek!” It’s not a good sign when you can’t even remember the rebel's full name. “We are here to arrest you in the name of Tyzias, 12th in the line of Entykk, current Heiress of Alternia and future Empress of Alternian kind! Coincidentally, I’ve brought your lawyer with me. You can work out your case with him later.”


Wait, Dammek? Surely, he couldn’t mean?


Tagora took a deep, frustrated breath to quell his rising temper. “Tegiri.” Tagora's eyebrow was twitching at an alarming rate, his eye nearly popping out of his skull. “How, exactly, am I supposed to represent someone you haven’t even arrested yet!”


“It’s only honorable to save him the time of hiking to your office.”


“Secondly, it’s fucking Tetrarch Dammek! Don’t announce yourself, just rush in and arrest him!”


“Even rebels deserve a fair fight.”


“Third! You managed to track down one of the fucking Tetrarchs! This is huge! And to arrest him, you brought a sword and one of your lawyer buddies, instead of, oh, I don’t know, an army! Every drone on the planet should be here, not just us!”


“I appreciate the concern, but it would be superfluous. I am more than skilled enough to handle this.”


Before the argument could escalate any further, a loud crash rang out from inside. Tegiri drew his sword and Tagora slinked back. “We should run.”


“Nigete kara shinu hō ga ī.”

And with that, Tegiri kicked down the door, swinging his sword wildly. Tagora simply threw himself onto the ground, hands over his heads, praying for a quick death.


The first thing Tagora notice after a solid minute's wait was that he wasn’t dead yet. The second thing he noticed was that, while Tegiri was yelling at someone, there were no signs of a struggle. “Come out rebel! You can’t hide from my blade.” Tagora facepalmed. Rather than take this opportunity to run for his life, Tegiri was trying to antagonize the Tetrarch further.


Tagora peaked his head through the door, already spying massive piles of fire arms that a bronze blood like Dammek couldn’t legally own. “Tegiri.” He whisper yelled. “Are you trying to get us killed? We need to go!” Tegiri ignored him. “You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it.”


“Tegiri, what are you-"


“I never saw the light until I was a wriggler, and by then it was blinding.”


A sudden burst of light rang out from somewhere in the hive, blinding Tagora and causing him to look away. Over his own hissing, Tagora heard the swing of a sword and a clatter of something falling to the ground. When Tagora regained his vision, he was shocked by what he saw.


Tegiri had a strange, pale, hornless creature cornered at the tip of his blade. Blue eyes dotted between the two teals nervously, a green, unrecognizable symbol across the creature's front revealing what Tagora could only assume was its sign. “Um, hi?”

The radio in one of the creature’s hands crackled to life. “Joey, are you okay? Did they see you? Remember, don’t tell them anything about the rebellion! Try to use code words, just like Tetrarch Dammek would!” The alien, apparently named Joey, held the radio up to her mouth. “Uh, bad timing buddy.”


Well, this just got a lot more interesting.

 

Chapter Text

Joey never asked for this

Joey never asked for this.


Joey looked between the two aliens in front of her nervously, remembering to keep the one with the sword in her peripheral at all times. “I can explain.”


“Alien!” The one with the sword bellowed. “You are an ally and associate of Tetrarch Dammek!” The tone was accusatory and factual, leaving no room for a contradictory answer. Regardless, Joey gave him one. “Um, no. I’ve actually never met him.” It was technically the truth.

Regardless, the samurai’s temper only flared further and he raised his blade. “You’ve proven yourself a master of deception and ambush techniques. You’re too dangerous to be kept alive.” Well, that tended to happen when you loudly announced your vulnerability to light. Joey took a step back, ready to dance around the …cop? Vigilante? Whatever he was on Alternia. If she heard correctly, apparently his name was Tegiri?


Suddenly, Byers flew out if her coat pocket and latched onto Tegiri's face before pecking relentlessly. “Agh! Tagora! I’ve been ambushed! I require aid!” Tegiri tumbled backwards and crashed into a pile of guns. The lanky one, Tagora apparently, doubled into a coughing fit in an attempt to hide his laughter. “Joey, what happened? Are you winning?” Xefros called in over the radio. “Well, Byers is at least.”

Tagora recovered from his coughing fit and looked over to Joey, hand rubbing his chin in contemplation. “Now, Joey, was it? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Tagora Gorjek, head of the Gorjek law firm.”


“It’s in my eyes! It’s trying to rip out my eyes!”


“Ignore him. He’s harmless and is in no way associated with me. In fact, I don’t even know his name.”


“You said his name earlier.”


“Trying to sound smarter than your local Head Legislacirator will warrant you a small fine. In more relevant news, I happen to be well versed in working with aliens. If you could hit me up with your rebel connections and any important people in your government, then we could likely work out a mutually profitable deal.”


“No! My contacts! They were gifts from my lusus!”


Joey’s eyes narrowed skeptically. “Aren’t you supposed to be arresting me?”


“He is. I’m just here to be someone’s lawyer. Now, do we have a deal?” Tagora thrust his hand foreword, a sly, manipulative grin stretching his features. Joey reached into her coat pocket and wrapped her hand around the spice. He looked like the kind of boy Roxy warned her about after all. “I’m not sure…”


“COOOOO!”


Byers flew back and landed on Joey's shoulder, a pair of contacts in his beak. Tegiri was preoccupied groaning in pain into the carpet. “I’ll have to think on it.” Joey said a bit more confidently. Byers certainly seemed a bit better at dispatching alien ruffians than she was. “Well, don’t take long. Here, my card.”


Tagora peacefully waved Joey off as she left. “And remember! Officially, this never happened! Also, you owe me 120 dollars total for this conversation!” Joey just nodded as if she totally had alien money she could pay him with and closed the door. She then collapsed in a sigh of relief.


“Joey!” Xefros shouted over the hum of his approaching hover board. Joey looked up to see her new found friend. “Hey, Xefros. Glad to see you had a spare hover board.”


“Actually, no. I borrowed this from my neighbor. He claims that the idea of personal property is an oppressive idea created by the highblood ectoplasm bourgeosie that prey on the working class trolls, so its usually pretty easy to borrow stuff from him if you ask.”


“….oh. Okay. I don’t know what to say to that.”


“Yeah. I get that a lot whenever I talk about Fozzer. Remind me that we need to return this to him later.”


Joey figured that she could always ask questions later.


“Let’s… just get going.”


This place was weird. This planet was weird. Were those two normal or not? Is everyone this bizarre? Xefros seemed partially normal, if a bit desensitized to the all the strangeness and murder around every corner. Joey fell into a contemplative silence as she hot on behind Xefros. Why couldn’t Jude be here? He would love this. That, and it would be comforting to have someone around who had a plan for this situation. Or to have someone she knew with her. Now, she was stuck on a strange world inhabited by strange people.


“Hey. Are you okay?” Xefros asked, snapping Joey out of her trance.


“Oh. I’m fine.. I just have a lot on my mind. We’ll talk about it later, when there aren’t two teals trying to arrest us!” Not that they actually had anything to worry about on that front, one was subdued by a bird and the other was corrupt and bribable, but Joey figured it was poor form to drop her insecurities on someone she just met. “Right. Good thinking. Just like how Tetrarch Dammek tends to think!”


Joey wasn’t sure she liked that comparison for all she’d been told about him, but she was too mixed around to care. Now that she was out of danger, it finally sunk in just how alien everything about this was. As the hover board began to take, Joey just hoped Jude was okay.


~


Joey would soon look back and wish she’d said something while things were still calm. Teals talked and unsavory figures listened. Powerful players tend to gravitate towards wild cards after all.

Chapter Text

Run

The young troll ran, the rustling sounds of his clothes the only indication of his presence in the dead of night. He spared little thought to where he was going, only to why. He needed to run, to get away. The blood born from the veins of a lesser troll marked him for death. An unworthy brown, the kind he’d been raised to subjugate.

He was raised to expect praise, but in this age, he could only hope for a swift demise.

He hadn’t made a habit of letting the whims of the Heiress keep him from his blood right. He just acted out his holy mission in private. He purged the unworthy undetected and undeterred. Until he was spotted.

They knew him now. They saw his face. There was one motto that united the whole spectrum and it was that the Eyes of Entykk eventually see all. And once they did, they never stopped hunting.

All he could do is run. Run and flee and pray to the Messiahs above that he could find somewhere to hide.

A nice dream. But dreams are meant to be broken.

A sharp pain shot through his leg. He fell face first to the cold, hard dirt.

They dragged him away as he begged and screamed. A fresh trail of purple was the only trace left behind. Soon he’d wake up on trial. Afterwards, he doubted he’d wake up at all.

~

Xefros kept a careful eye out as Joey slept. Entykk had agents and eyes everywhere. An invisible looming shadow watched over them and Xefros knew he could do nothing about it. But he could at least see her hands coming and try to protect his newfound friend from them.

He wanted to mourn his moirail's disappearance. Wanted to try to find him. But there was no time. All he could do is watch, so they'd be ready to run when they need to.

He never believed the ghost stories he heard as a wriggler. All Tyrians were callous, Xefros knew as much, but high bloods were safe under them. Those lucky enough to be born a royal hue were untouchable, even Tyzias had to understand that.

Then Dammek smuggled him into a trial.

He remembered it clearly. The trial of Marvus Xoloto.

Marvus was an influencer. An icon. Even for someone of his caste, his importance could not be understated. He had followers in the billions, a near planet wide appeal. When he was arrested, no one expected it to amount to anything. Just another slap on the wrist. Same as usual. 

Then he saw Marvus Xoloto, the icon of billions, put to death like any other.

The Church was outraged, threatened to rebel. The smell of war was in the air.

One warning shot from the Heiresses’ lusus put them back in line.

The message was clear. “Obey. No matter who you are.”

Dammek's words of wisdom still rang in his ears. “If she’d kill Marvus Xoloto, what would she do to us?”

What would she do to him? To Dammek? To Joey even?

Entykk’s eyes were everywhere. All anyone could do was run. But unlike most others, Xefros had a place he could run to...

He just hoped it was somewhere Joey would be safe.