Conclave of Shadows

Location - Unknown

Xoth sat in the dark lit room looking at the holographic display rising above the table of the galactic map, her yellow eyes noting all the info and updates she could process.
It had been more than 10 years since she had met in person with her fellow members of the Cephalon Consortium Conclave.
So much had happened since then. The Fall of the UBC and the collapse of the galactic-wide cryptocurrencies, the panic and fear that spread as infrastructures disappeared in the blink of an eye, trade lanes falling to bands of roaming pirates, whole nascent civilisations wiped out in planetary conflicts, the slow splintering of the GDF as many of the organisations member groups, turned on those they had promised to help and protect. And those that did not simply reverted to their own original goals.
So much had happened.

The UBC had for centuries been one of the most effective tools of the High Council in maintaining control over the Galaxy. Without it most races that used the cryptocurrencies were forced to revert to battering or install their own monetary systems in the panic that ensued. Most had failed.

In the last 10 years The Armada had moved away from the outer rims of the Galaxy and slowly pushed towards the Galactic core, destroying everything that was anathema to them and their way of life. Everything that the High Council had built over thousands of years slowly eroded. The Armada had sparked the Bloodshed Uprising over a decade, systematically defeating the forces of the High Council that culminated in the disbandment of the GDF at the Battle of the Silence System. Which in turn led to the destruction of the Atlas at the Galactic Core and the High Council defeat.

But in times of great tribulation great advancements were made. And that was only that really matter for the Conclave.

"Reports from our operatives along the Signar System confirm that the main body of The Armada forces have started their long trek back to the outer rims as we predicted." said Agvis Styx from the head of the table. The oldest of their number and their scientific father.
"Without the Bloodborn Elders leading them, it seems they are more than happy with the spoils of a decade long war and content to return to their old hunting grounds."

Xoth nodded looking at the data scrolling through her personal screen.

"They have however installed several allies in key strategic systems along their path who will pay tribute to the fleet for generations to come. Allies whose politics and philosophy are more akin to their own. Purgatory Omega being one of the prime examples." he concluded.

To her right Elgrar Quls chimed in. "Many of their number who deserted before the final battle with the High Council have already started establishing their own versions of fiefdoms. Nansur Prime has already fallen to one such incursion and I believe we will see many more in the coming cycles. "

"That was to be expected, sister. And I wager we will see many of the affiliated GDF groups doing the same. When old Empires crumble, new brutal ones rise to take their place." Xoth added.

Her colleagues nodded at her words. They had often speculated what would happen to the Galaxy free from the control of the High Council. No one would ever know that the collapse of the UBC and of the galactic cryptocurrencies, had been one of the major social demodynamic projects of the Conclave in the last 1000 years. If the High Council saw themselves as the power at the Centre of the Galaxy, The Cephalon Consortium Conclave would always be the true power in the shadows.

"Interesting reports from the Dorian Fringe. The USSF is expanding its reach. Two more systems joined their fledgling confederation. They weathered the end of the war better than most." Mim'er said from Xoth's left. "Under the leadership of this so called Supreme Leader Zanikov Denoslav, they have established trade routes, rebuilt infrastrutures and have been actively recruiting ex-GDF members to their forces."

Zik Cerkon, the youngest of their number touched a display pad and brought up the Dorian Fringe up on the holographic screen.
"Maybe we should have someone closer to him. There are several scientists and organisations who have already petitioned for funding from within the USSF. One in particular around crop virology resistance and crop yield in nuclear environments that caught my eye."

"I concur." agreed Agvis. "It will pay to have eyes and ears in the USSF. Have it arranged via the normal channels. Use one of the many shell trust funds we might still have in the sector.

"The plague recovered from Nebulon-65 is already spreading through the inner systems as we arranged." Xoth added. "I manipulated some of its strains before release so that some genetic auto-immunity exists but the death toll should still be very high due to its high contagion ration."

"How long before we see forms of herd immunity emerging?" Mim'er asked looking at the genetic sequence for the virus on screen.

"I don't expect we will see many before we start manufacturing the cure for it through some of our pharmaceutical companies. Some races might have a higher threshold of resistance however." Xoth replied. "The strains' mutations are difficult to predict but our vaccination will only protect any inoculated against it for 3 months."
"With a new vaccine needed to be administrated after that time period?" Elgrar asked.
Xoth nodded.
"Indeed. This will keep those infected dependant on our products. We will of course have a full anti-virus that can eradicate and prevent re-contamination for those special cases that we know will arise."

The Conclave smiled in unison.

"Good work Xoth." Agvis Styx said looking at her proudly. He was grooming her to take over his position once he died or retired.
"One more note of interest I wish to share with you all before we retire." he continued.

He pulled up the images of a man and a bio on him. "This man calls himself Zendichez. He is a trader. He has some connection to the Bedouin Cartographers and seems he was part of the Faction for a time. Our records show that he has made a name for for himself as the curator and facilitator or rare and precious items."

A long list of items peddled and sold by the man appeared on the screen.

"We have in the past used his services via some of our agents. He is hosting one of his many auctions at an unknown location as of yet. Attendance will be by invite only and a down payment of 1 metric tonne of gold will be required. Non refundable."

"What is he auctioning?" Xoth asked her interest peaked slightly.

"He claims he found a fragment of the Atlas..." came the reply and the Conclave was stunned into silence.

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