Jaz’Moff Tok J’Donag took in the view from his retreat tower on the northern hemisphere of Kagrim. It was a marvelous sight as dawn broke behind the mountains over Korratos valley. Unlike most Tarassians who evolved on the hot savannahs of Tarassaka, J’Donag preferred colder temperatures. Even so, he much adored the fresh air grace to the conifer trees between the spiked mountains of Kagrim. It was a luxury few in the Union could afford, though his retreat was not as extravagant as some of the other Jaz’Moffs.
Despite the Union’s best efforts, the higher positions came with luxuries which indulged the egos of those who climbed the administrative strata. Yet J’Donag remained largely the same. Connecting still with the day-to-day aspects of life such as fresh air. He had mastered the teachings of harmony of the Jen’Tarsai, the fundamental ideology of the Union.
He took one last breath, enjoying the view one more time before entering his office again. As the overseer of the Nagrim Oversector, he was chief of billions of lives and their security. What he didn’t expect was for the Tarrasos’ recent border directive to reach him first.
Tarrasos Gor D’Kut had changed the Union’s isolationist stance recently. Forces would start to carefully skimmer the edges of their dominion’s borders. Slowly probing the identity of potential neighbours with utmost tactfulness. The Union’s way had been forged by wars and the Tarassians themselves barely survived their first contact with the technologically superior Ryccians under Viceroy Scipio, Duke of Velpus. Though the Incursion War had ended over 1,600 years ago, the carnal fear remained within the bones of the Union.
Even its northern border hadn’t gone unscathed. An unknown empire lay there with which the Tarassians engaged sparsely in skirmishes with over the past centuries. Never knowing the face of their enemy. To protect the Union was the foremost doctrine. A law as immutable as gravity itself. Hence why even Tarassos D’Kut’s slightest change in border policy was seen as revolutionary by many. Now, the time had paid off.
His office hologram beeped. He opened it and Strategos Murgaud had’Saldem appeared in front of him. She was an old friend. The red haired Feesi was younger than him, but was in charge of the Strategat of the Nagrim Oversector. However, Archon J’Bassim, the White Archon, appeared too to his surprise. Few achieved his rank while fur turned grey with age. A testament to his cunning. His presence alone, signified the gravity of the Strategos’ call.
Strategos Murgaud had’Saldem & Strategos Vak J’Bassim.
- “Citizen Archon, Citizen Strategos. I fear this isn’t a social call.” J’Donag remarked.
- “No it isn’t, Citizen Jaz’Moff.” The Archon replied dryly.
Immediately J’Donag received an additional encrypted transmission. He opened it directly and it revealed a star chart with patterns. It took a moment before he realised what was going on.
- “Our forces have identified a potential incoming fleet. Roughly 150 ships in strength. They’re coming from the Yakhari Commonwealth, though their configurations are unlike anything we’ve faced before. Their path puts them on a collision with Olnim in two days.” Strategos had’Saldem added.
It was concerning. It was unlikely the Yakhari would have been conquered without the occasional traders mentioning it. J’Donag couldn’t help but wonder.
- “What does the T’Latos Order think? Do we have any speculations from them?” He finally dared to ask.
The T’Latos Order was the intelligence branch of the Union. Ruthless data gathering was their speciality. It was deemed necessary to secure the orderly way of the Jen’Tarsai. The mere mention of their name brought memories of J’Donag’s first teeth he had to bring in for the Order.
Archon J’Bassim was reluctant to answer. Typically only the Tarassos had access to such information and it was understood it wasn’t to be shared. However, Tarassos D’Kut again had changed his stance on information containment and shared information more so than previous Tarassosi with their Archon. J’Bassim was afraid this was a test of loyalty of sort. One could never be certain who worked for the T’Latos Order willingly or unwillingly. Though despite his fears, he entrusted himself in the Tarassos.
- “The T’Latos Order has been able to identify a likely star nation. Rumours have been spreading of a rising power in the spaceborne territories south of the Yakhari. Humans under the name Stoinian.”
Both the Strategos & the Jaz’Moff felt a shiver in their spine. Human… It was a term the invaders of the Incursion War called themselves. Yet they called themselves under a different name now. Not Ryccian.
- “Before you ask the question, the ship configuration are unlike the Ryccians from the Incursion War. It’s very unlikely they are descendants of our ancestors enemies. However, we shouldn’t exclude the possibility of the same ferocity.” The Archon continued.
- “Yet they move unflinching in a straight arrow. The same resolve with which they invaded Tarassia. I’ll notify Cu’Navarchos J’Korab to amass his V’Stolat at Olnim. We must prepare ourselves should their intentions prove hostile.” Strategos had’Saldem contemplated.
- “Agreed, we should be cautious.” J’Donag voice his support for his trusted friend’s plan.
- “I concur, but the Tarassos wants us to initiate peaceful protocols. Which brings us to you, Citizen Jaz’Moff.” The Archon finally revealed his true intentions.
J’Donag was confused. He didn’t quite know what the Archon would ask of him.
- “The Tarassos wants you to send an official to meet these Stoinians. An official Legate in his name to try and initiate a diplomatic relation. As the governor of the Kagrim Oversector, you can mobilise your best official to meet them in due time. I’m sure, the Kagrim Oversector has enough Citizens of quality to surpass the Tarassos’ expectation.”
J’Donag knew what he was saying. He hadn’t reached his level if he had been a fool. The Archon had delegated an important task to him. Meaning he saw him as responsible enough, but on the other side… He was putting J’Donag as the responsible should things go south. After all, Union society viewed disfavourably upon those who put others in charge of tasks too great a challenge for them. However, the Archon knew he was too high up to be touched by those norms. J’Donag would bear the brunt of the responsibility. Archon J’Bassim was known to disagree with some of the Tarassos’ stances. His recent language also merely stated what the Tarassos wanted, not what he wanted. Perhaps he was sabotaging the Tarassos policy in his own way. However, he had covered his deceits carefully and J’Donag had no proof of his theory. The Archon had pivoted him into doing his bidding.
- “I will succeed, Citizen Archon. The Union will receive these Stoinians per the Tarassos’ instructions.” J’Donag answered the call. Though in truth he had no choice.
- “Excellent. Walk the Jen’Tarsai.” The Archon said before ending the transmission.
- “On the Jen’Tarsai I remain.” Replied both the Jaz’Moff & the Archon to their superior.
With tha formal sayings, the Archon disappeared. Had’Saldem gave him a worried look. She had understood the position her friend was put in.
- “Best of luck, J’Donag. I’ll make sure Cu’Navarchos J’Korab will follow your Legate’s instructions. Choose wisely.” She said before given him a nod.
J’Donag reciprocated the nod and finally had’Saldem closed the transmission herself. He was left with a burden and his shoulder already felt weaker. This was coming from the Tarassos himself. Though luckily, he knew a rising star within the administrative stratum of the Union. Bor J’Vakir. If memory served right, he was merely four hours away from Olnim. He hesitated no longer to contact the young Tarassian.
9 LY north of the Yakhari Commonwealth Border
2nd Fleet Section, Fleet Division Alpha, 163rd Fleet
Three days later
The Meridian system was an elusive system in the cross-section of the Tiyanki Territories. The Stoinian Star Kingdom, by the order of the King, took control of the system once they had found it. By luck or fate, the Joint Exploratory Fleet had discovered the system. Unlike the Tiyanki nations, the Joint Exploratory Fleet used warp field drives and didn’t need hyperspace routes to travel. Not even the most advanced Arkanian hyperdrives were able to scour for the Meridian system. Thus for thousands of years, if not millenia, the Meridian system remained clouded in mystery.
It took a lot of favours from the Treecuu to allow the Stoinians to solely control the system. The King had machinations for the system and assured the Treecuu President that the annexation of the system was a unique deed. Something they wouldn’t pursue from then on without Treecuu input.
With the capture of the Meridian system, the reputation of the Stoinians grew throughout the Tiyanki Territories. Some welcomed them, but most remained wary of them. Especially while 156 ships travelled through their realms. It was a most terrifying sight, but the Stoinians assured them they merely wanted to pass through to scout out a potentially dangerous star nation. A star nation they had deduced from data from the Ryccian Empire & the Drakari Celestial Imperium. It was agreed upon that the star nation was militaristic of sorts, yet firmly isolationist if neither the Ryccians or Drakari fully comprehended them.
The 163rd Fleet under Admiral Mircea Zimbrean was sent to secure the Meridian system, but a detachment of the 2.548 strong fleet would be used to investigate this potential star nation between the Drakari, Ryccians & Tiyanki. For the Joint Exploratory Fleet was already spread thin with the many nations of the Tiyanki Territories. One of the Legates was put in charge to build up the diplomatic mission of Meridian was sent to delve into the matter with enough naval power to gain the respect of any militaristic star nation without the intent of invasion. Or if things escalated as they often did in Stoinian first contacts, to secure a safe return.
Legate Keira Carnell stood aside Rear Admiral Louis Alphonse Alarie in the Kawacha’s Command Room. The man’s excessive smoking of cigars irritated her throughout the journey. Although truvacco wasn’t harmful, she had never grown accustomed to the smell. Regardless, she had to pull through. No one ever, except the King Himself, told an Admiral how to behave in his own command room.
Legate Keira Carnell in the Kawacha’s Command Room
As the Kawacha entered an unknown system for the dozenth time, Keira once more keenly looked at the system’s map. Although the Atlas-class battleship was sturdy & modern, the interfaces hadn’t yet been updated to host holograms. The incremental implementation of the Treecuu tech hadn’t yet reached her fleet and would take a while now that they were deployed on the frontier.
As if suddenly struck by lightning, she noticed a change in the Admiral Alarie’s puff. She took a glance and speculated they had struck gold. Finally! However, a second later, yellow dots appeared.
- “Admiral, sensore report over 1.000 ships orbiting the planet.” An aide told him.
Without hesitation, he turned towards the officer, pointing his cigar at him.
- “Get the fleet on yellow alert. Order calculations to get us out of here. Don’t engage active scans, we don’t want to appear hostile.” Rear Admiral Alarie barked around the room.
- “Admiral, we can’t engage in diplomatic relations with gun ports open.” She tried to explain.
- “Maybe so, but unless our first contact statistics have changed, I’m not taking any chances with a numerically superior force. You may be in charge of the diplomatic mission, but I’m in charge of the fleet and its security.” Rear Admiral Alarie retorted.
Keira grew nervous. She wouldn’t let a skittish Rear Admiral jeopardise her mission. Though she understood his concerns, there had to be a way.
- “All right, Rear Admiral. Proceed as you wish, but at least let me send out a message. Let us observe how they react and then you may take over the reigns.”
Rear Admiral Alarie pondered for a moment, but with and Admiral’s decisiveness, he finally made the decision.
- “Fine… Get to it.”
Keira position herself to face the camera. She straightened her uniform one last time before turning to the communications officer inside the room.
- “Engage all known databases in our universal translator matrices. Three, two, one. Record.”
Suddenly she felt the weight of the entire Star Kingdom on her shoulders. She was the first face a star nation would see of her realm. She knew this was part of her new job, but facing it for the first time was quite an overwhelming experience.
- “This is Legate Keira Carnell of the Stoinian Star Kingdom of the 163rd Fleet. By the order of His Majesty, King Andrei Casarion, High King of the Stoinians, Lord Sovereign of the Stoinian Spirit, Warden of Heavens, Gerent of the Lion Throne, Custodian of Star Roar, Sword of Terra & Protector of Mankind, we come to form diplomatic relations with your star nation. We too have roamed the stars and faced horrors of the Dark Void. However, today we stand here in peace. We’ll remain here until you can communicate with us. Rest assured we won’t encroach closer to your planet. I repeat we come in peace. Legate Carnell out.”
Barely a dozen seconds later, the communications officer looked startled. There was already an incoming transmission. It seems their previous contact with the Ryccians had proven to be a boon the Stoinian could now cultivate millennia later.
- “Put it through, Lieutenant.” She ordered.
On her viewscreen appeared a large porcupine. Clothed in elegant garments with utmost attention to detail. It even glared on her viewscreen. Out of all the species she could have imagined, a dressed porcupine was not one of them.
Legate Bor J’Vakir
- “Greetings, Legate Karnil. I’m Legate Bor J’Vakir of the Tarassian Union. As you can see, we’ve been expecting you. Please proceed with your fleet according to the following vectors. From there we’ll allow an escort of 30 shuttles to enter land on Olnim so that we may receive you adequately. Let us walk the Jen’Tarsai in person.”
She found the xeno to be rather cryptic. Though she was certain she’d understand it more when in person. Rear Admiral Alarie looked over at her. Keira gave him a simple nod. They would proceed as suggested.