[1 BBT] Spires of Contention

OOC Warning

This thread consists of a story within a slaver empire and may discuss viewpoints of slavery which aren’t my own. Nor should this story be utilized to promote or condone slavery in any way, shape or form. Remember that this is a piece of fiction within a brutal setting.

“No species is as adaptable, and indeed ruthless, as the Arvarr. Adopting our customs, religion and traditions with ease and above all, thrive by it. For that, we should be both thankful and wary of them.”
—Sapa Zelvana Irva I na-Zeltan

Arvarr, the Golden City-World of the Zelvan Regime.

Arvarr. The ecumenopolis world just 8 LY away from the capital of the Zelvan Regime. A star nation devoted to hierarchy, order and above all, the divine right of Zelvans to enslave lesser races. Arvarr was the first to fall prey to the Zelvans’ interstellar slaving crusade, yet now thrived. When nowadays people look upon the golden towers of Arvarr, none regret the tainted history bounded to the glittering towers. For Arvarr was now the Golden City-World of the Regime a true testament to the Zelvan foundations.
The key to Arvarr’s success was the ruthless cunning of the ruling class shown when the Zelvans arrived in the Arvarro system roughly 7.000 years ago. The lunar colony of Mataris and its mining population had rebelled and the Arvarr government was losing control. Yet the ruling houses of Arvarr wouldn’t so easily give up their control. In what would later be known as the Great Betrayal in the common memory of the Matari people, the Arvarrans brokered a deal with the Zelvans. In exchange for technology and wealth to the people on Arvarr, Mataris and its rebelling population would become Zelvan domain. For centuries ethnic tensions had intensified and the ruling class of Arvarr took their golden opportunity without remorse.
However, greed and power weren’t enough for the ruling class. They too had drunk from the elixir of decadence brewed by the Zelvans. They were enticed by it and even further separated its own people so the magnates and aristocrats may live in excess. The two other races on Arvarr, the Khannarr and Tenarr, lived in oppression as the Arvarr brought them into submission with the new Zelvan gifts: electrowhips.
Though the Tenarr had plans of their own. They didn’t wish to share the same fate as the Khannarr or Matari. No. They would transform themselves. To raise their status in the caste system, they had to become essential to it. To comfort the excesses and needs of both the Zelvans and Arvarr. Through mental conditioning and cybernetic implants they had achieved it. The Khannarr became known as the Ni-Khannarr and form a large labour force. The Tenarr had transcended and became living computers. Beings of logics, they became known as the Mi-Tenarr and the most promising of their race would become Mitants. Personal assistants of unmatched cognitive capabilities, they became essential to the ruling class which had drenched itself in cutthroat politics across the stars. Through calculations, perception and deduction, they had become key members in unravelling plots in the courts of the nobility. Equally saving and destroying the lives of many nobility through their machinations. Becoming compliant in the Zelvan caste system.
Such was the Zelvan caste system. Adapt and embrace it or weep under the lashes. This brutal belief manifested itself in the Chan ka Raasta - The Path of the Chosen. The religious order manifested in the Zelvanist religion, adopted in political form and governance. Only the needs of the rulers was to be considered and those of the large slave masses be ignored. For this was the divine order of the universe. Equality was not a concept relished in the Regime. It was everyone for themselves and secure the best future for their own children. At the cost of a dividing its prosperity. This decadent belief would stagnate Zelvan society and lead to thousands of years of isolation. Only on few occasions would the Zelvan Deterrence Forces actively raid for new slaves beyond their borders. As long as the Zelvans lived their lives of depraved pleasures, the Regime fulfilled its needs.
Though a growing number of the Arvarr nobility had begun to disagree. Through whispers and secret meetings a new ideology was born circling amongst the elites. Naya Raasta - The New Way. Followers of this new ideology believe that the Regime should change its methods. The Great Slave Revolts had been squashed and not even the staunch Matari would dream again of complete freedom. The caste system was divine indeed, but it no longer required its current harsh enforcement. Through good grace and compassion, one could achieve equal results as through brutalist measures. Perhaps even more… More and more Arvarr Noble Houses openly supported this ideology, though the Zelvans dismissed their ideas and continued their brutalist policies. However, within the courts of some of these Noble Houses, and even on more secluded worlds, the Naya Raasta flourished. One of the supporters of the Naya Raasta was within House Pantecius.

Jiregh Pantecius, the new head of the noble Arvarr House Pantecius.

A recent power vacuum in the House had been stabilized. The previous head of House Pantecius, Jevsan Pantecius, died during his sleep. Though no trace of poison was found, House Pantecius didn’t believe in such things. Someone had killed the old Pantecian. The question was who? Was it one of their own or another House on Arvarr? Regardless of the reason, members within the family vied for the position amongst themselves. While the head of a Noble House didn’t have an office within the Zelvan Regime, they were the heads of their family and responsible to appoint and manage the different fiefs appointed to their family. The informal title of Padhuraj is given to these heads who have considerable influences in the royal courts of the Regime.
The true purpose of the old Padhuraj’s death would be revealed during the power struggle. Jiregh Pantecius, the grandnephew of Jevsan, was the head of one of the largest MegaCorps in the Regime. His Pantecius Interstellar Heavy Industries had recently risen in the Regime stock exchange and gained a sizeable fortune. It was believed that this new position would propel the company further and make it the largest ships manufacturer of the Regime. When one of its niche subsidiaries, Emrayur Deluxe Engineering, had been sold to the rival company of House Veridurji. Thus P.I.H.I. had lost its economic momentum while Jiregh was distracted with succession politics. The whole E.D.E. situation had the stench of a serious blackmail on it and he would make House Veridurji pay for it later. Now though, for the long term sake of the Regime, he had to focus on his internal House.
Through careful manipulations he was able to gain the favour over the Jevsan’s own son, Baruyan. From his new position as Padhuraj of House Pantecius, he had renewed and vast resources. Enough to further his political and corporate interests. Now he resided on Arvarr where he would be much closer to all the Arvarr Noble Houses. It was Arvarr tradition that the Padhuraji remained on Arvarr. From the planets extensive infrastructure, they could easily keep an eye on their family’s fiefs and their rivalling houses.

Jiregh was enjoying the golden view from the top of Pantecius Spire. It was the first time since his arrival since he could really enjoy the view without fearing for some unwarranted relative to convince him that Baruyan would be the better choice for the House. The fool had already fled off-world to one of the resort worlds south of Seldis. For all Jiregh could care, he was far better off in the Pishar Territory. The western fringes of the Regime where slaves were harvesting resources to feed the economy of planets such as Arvarr or MegaCorps like Jiregh’s. The door behind opened and he quickly turned around. He was relieved at the sight of Jincra, the purple striped Tvo’Lek who served the late Padhuraj. She had brought some coufhee for her new master. Despite the Tvo’Lek’s relative old age, the live of a maid on Arvarr had spared her of the harsh treatments. Treatments Jiregh disapproved of. While slaves were unquestionable beneficial for his company and he firmly believed in the institution, he had come to see that a healthy and compassionate slave force was far more productive. The recent rise of his company was no mere coincidence after all.
As Jincra put down the coufhee on the table on the balcony she bowed and turned around to leave her master alone.
“Jincra… Where are you going? I didn’t dismiss you.”
The Tvo’Lek faced Jiregh again, though she obviously didn’t dare to look in his eyes. Looking at his feet in fear of his retaliation. Jiregh however smiled at her.
“I cannot have a maid that won’t look up.”
“Bu- But master! It’s improp-”
“I said look up. Look me in the eyes.”
The sight Jiregh saw next nearly broke his heart. The Tvo’Lek showed only fear in her eyes. Granted Jiregh had used his more aggressive voice, but it all still perplexed him. How such a little thing, nothing really, could instil such fear in a being. She too was confused as she saw her master smile. She concluded only one solution…
“Jincra what are you doing? Are you undressing yourself?”
“The old Padhuraj… Enjoyed drinking his coufhee in the presence of naked Tvo’Leki master. I- I assumed you wanted the same.”
Jiregh couldn’t help but feel his stomach turn inside. Arvarr breathes of decadence and he hoped he wouldn’t eventually succumb to it. He noticed Jincra was again looking at his feet. Avoiding his eyes as a sign of her subservient nature.
"Look me in the eyes, Jincra… Do you see Padhuraj Jevsan? "
“N- No. Master.”
“Well then…” Jiregh widened his smile and his eyes sparkled. He truly enjoyed helping to enlighten his subjects with his unorthodox style of rule. “If you won’t treat me like Padhuraj Jevsan. I won’t treat you like he did. It seems like a fair deal no?”
“A slave doesn’t concern herself with what’s fair. her master decides that for her.”
Jiregh came closer and put both his hands on her shoulders. Giving her his comforting smile again.
“Well Jincra… Your new master wishes that you sit down and drink the coufhee while we simply… talk.”
“Master, I’m not sure it is proper.”
“Like you said, the master decides for his slaves. Well I decide that you deserve a little bit of relaxation. Here.” Jiregh pulled out a chair, offering her to sit on it. “Com sit down and enjoy the view for once.”
Shyly, Jincra sat down looking at her master for further instructions.
“I told you to relax Jincra. Drink from it and enjoy the view. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?”
Jincra then looked up and likely for the first time, truly saw it. Slowly but steadily, she calmed herself down while admiring the golden landscape. After a while she began to drink from the coufhee and talked with Jiregh about her family. She clearly had begun to loosen up. The goal Jiregh had in mind all along. Give his subjects some comfort as well. The next hour the two discussed different issues, ranging from small talk to familial issues. It was a conversation Jincra never had with a master before, but Jiregh could see the sparkles of enjoyment in her eyes. Their small piece of heaven would however be interrupted by Junget Eraster, Jiregh’s own personal Mitant. As the tall and muscular figure with the back of his head filled with polished metal plaques set foot on the balcony, Jiregh politely dismissed Jincra for he had important matters to discuss.
“Master Jiregh, the spy has been successful in procuring the necessary files. It was as we suspected. House Veridurji was behind the recent death of Padhuraj Jevsan and E.D.E.'s buy-out.”
"Good, call Shahib Akura. We’ll confront him with the evidence and force
Shahib Donijeg Akura was the planetary governor of Arvarr and head of House Akura. It was a prestigious position that only members of House Akura could receive, though it also was a dangerous position. Despite all this, the position, having its own title, was the most influential position a non-Zelvan could have. The voice of the Shahib carried heavy weight in the Zel-An-Tok Palace on Zeltar. Jiregh planned to use this position to his advantage, though his plans wouldn’t reveal quite so soon. After half an hour, the Shahib’s hologram appeared over Jiregh’s office.
“Shahib Akura, you honour us.”
“The honour is mine. Tell me what can I do for the newly elected Padhuraj of House Pantecius?”
“I take it this channel is secure?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t have gotten this position if I was now would I?”
The large and rotund Arvarr laughed as the piercings on his left eyebrow clattered. Jiregh reciproked with a small smile.
“No indeed, though likely you would have enjoyed yourself on one of our resort worlds. As our friend Baruyan seems to do every quite so often.”
“It’s good that you are keeping tabs on that slime. He never was the most cunning of House Pantecius.”
“That he was not. He certainly wouldn’t have been able to get some very sensitive evidence.”
Jiregh clicked on his office’s controls and sent the file from earlier to the Shahib.
“You certainly haven’t taken time to rest from your election. I admire that. Help an old man out will you. What have you got?”
“Some evidence of the troubles House Verdurji has been causing us. Though perhaps myself more than others. I wish to ask a favour of you.”
“A favour now?” Akura laughed as his baritone voiced echoed through the room. “Well you certainly don’t hesitate when whipping now do you? You must know that a favour from the Shahib doesn’t come cheap. Surely the Ordinance Service wouldn’t appreciate such… Illegalities, shall we say.”
“You don’t fool me Shahib Akura, this planet reeks of such illegalities. Besides, I wouldn’t say this unless I knew you couldn’t refuse my offer.”
The Shahib chuckled again while pointing at Jiregh through the hologram. “Ah Jiregh, I see Kor-Azor has kept you sharp and calculated. One might say you might be a Mintant. Now that you have made the old man curious, don’t disappoint him.”
“I only need a few words from you in the Imperial Court, Shahib. In exchange, you’ll receive a substantial increase in your corporate shares. I’ve already taken care of it. If you were to check it, you’ll see it has an increase of exactly 0,542%. Consider that a down payment.”
The Shahib looked over some of his own consoles and was pleasantly surprised to see Jiregh’s accuracy. “And what might these words be exactly?”
“We have recently made contact with a neighbouring state. The Treecuu Star Empire. Reports have indicated that they know of other star nations out there. I wish for you to merely suggest that we should engage in formal diplomatic relations with them.”
“Phah! As if the Zelvans would want that? They’re more than happy with the current status quo.”
“Perhaps, but they might be even more happier with a potential result.”
“Please elaborate, Padhuraj.”
“Zelvanism teaches us that it is the divine duty of the Zelvans to bring order to the universe. By enslaving other races and installing great worlds like our own. Their righteousness is unquestionable, but the other star nations must come to the same conclusion. We could open their eyes to embrace our customs as we Arvarr once have. Through trade Arvarr itself could become the very centre. Imagine if Arvarr’s economy could be tenfold because of it. It would bring us wealth like we’ve never seen before… And with it, the position of Shahib would only increase…”
The Shahib looked sternly at Jiregh. For half a minute he did so, prying to get reacting out of the young Arvarr. Jiregh looked back like a stone.
“All right, considering you’re only asking for a few reasonable words… I’ll do what you ask.”
“Thank you Shahib, I ask of nothing more. Please let me no longer interrupt your evening.”
The Shahib then cut off his communications. For a first time bribing one of the most powerful people on Arvarr, it went rather well. But these were merely the first stepping stones of his larger plan. A plan to reshape the Sector and the Regime while making an incredible amount of profit. The plan of a true Arvarr…

“A radical word whispered, echoes for a thousand miles.”
— Arvarr proverb

The Arvarr had proven true, Jiregh thought. Though now in fact it wasn’t just mere thousands of miles, but hundreds of lightyears. Being the Padhuraj of House Pantecius, he already was able to gather a rough location of distant star nations. And just about now they were already taking pre-emptive measures against the Zelvan Regime. Clearly the Zelvanist preaching by the Sapa Zelvana, although a standard for the Regime, had unintentionally provoked the far away star nations such as the Drakari Celestial Imperium and the Ryccian Empire. From what intel he had, these were the ancients of the Sector. Jiregh somewhat anticipated this stance from them, but nonetheless was displeased with the amount of uproar the mere existence of the Regime had created. The Treecuu were more careful and actually requested a clarification. So far they acted in accordance to their behaviour to the first contact with them. Cold and calculated planning webs within webs no doubt. Convincing them of the Regime’s enlightened way would take time nonetheless. Nonetheless the Vizier Council had clarified their statement and it seemed to bring promise. These Stoinians had in fact reached out to the Regime and were sending an ambassador of sorts to assess the “situation”. Jiregh didn’t quite understand this move, but it would be revealed at a later date. For now he just had to meet with this “Legate” Iustina Psella and scout out if the Stoinian market would be compatible with his plans. He understood the star nations was embroiled in some sort of war, but he didn’t need a Mitant to see a golden opportunity here.
His trusted Mitant, Junget Eraster walked into the room. Towering and calculated as always, he arrived precisely when he meant to. Jiregh had requested a meeting with him to better anticipate the Stoinians and how to get them on Arvarr. There had to be a way to get them here instead of Zelvar and religion was likely the answer, but he couldn’t quite point it down.
“Ah Junget, good of you to come.”
“I’m at your service Master Pantecius.”
“Oh please, you know you can just call me Jiregh.”
“It wouldn’t be very befitting of your position as Padhuraj, master.”
“Nonsense, you’re my trusted aide after all. You can be truly trusted compared to 99 per cent on this planet.”
“All right then, Jiregh. Why did you call me here.”
“I want to arrange for this… “Legate” Psella to come on Arvarr instead of Zelvar. A jewel such as Arvarr would certainly make an impression on them and prove our enlightened way to be true. Besides, a meeting with the Stoinian ambassador could prove most productive for our plans to expand Pantecius Interstellar Heavy Industries to other star nations and covertly convert their masses to our belief.”
Junget eyes quickly flicker from left to right revealing but his white eyes. It was a sign the Mitant was calculating something. Jiregh’s large investment in this Mitant had payed off as the man calculated precisely what he wanted without even uttering the order. The Mitant’s eyes than turned back to Jirgeh.
“It would be possible, but you will need to be quite careful.”
Jiregh raised an eyebrow looking at Junget.
“From the data we have, some footage and the message the Stoinians have sent us, I deducted that they’re a martial society. ‘We’ve fought worse wars and our swords were never blunt.’ As King Andrei III said shows it clearly. Any insult against their way of life or culture will result in an immediate retaliation with a probability of 87,65%. Their Legate Psella will likely by a stern woman.”
“How do you know that?”
“They are still at war Jiregh. Would you sent a cuddler to make promises while you are at war?”
“I suppose I wouldn’t. But this war with the ‘Venterrans’ can be a boon for our plans no? If we were to send aid to them, they would view us more amicably.”
“Perhaps, but it could alienate them from the other star nations. Given their reaction, they would condemn any overt action with us. We must find out the relations of the Stoinians to the other star nations and how they would react on different ways of showing support. Though I agree we should support their war effort in some way, we just have too few data as of yet to determine our best course of action.”
Jiregh smiled. His plan could work in theory, but he needed to make it practical as well.
“All right, so it could work in theory. But for it to work in practice, we need to find a way to get the ambassador on Arvarr instead of Zelvar. I thought of using our religion to justify it, but I haven’t found anything concrete.”
“Ah, yes. The Scriptures could prove most helpful. The early works clearly refer to Zelvar as a beacon of light. One could interpret it that the impure aren’t meant to be there. Given how little we know about the Stoinians, one could argue we need to determine their purity first before we allow them to settle foot on Zelvar itself. I believe the Scriptures of Saint Tulan na-Turkan can be twisted to suit our needs.”
“Good, have Cardinal Deciju Marciacchus convinced. I’m sure he can swing the Council of Divine Scriptures to convince the Vizier Council of the interest in having the ambassador arrive on Arvarr instead of Zelvar.”
“I’ll arrange for it Jiregh.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Opportunities arise anywhere and when you face them, always leave a good first impression. For a good first impression will last a lifetime.”
— Arvarr saying

Jiregh’s machinations had worked. Cardinal Marciacchus was successful in persuading the Council of Divine Scriptures to make Arvarr the centre of foreign relations with other star nations. Or at least brought them closer to him. Three weeks had passed since the Sapa Zelvana’s message reached the other star nations and caused an uproar. His network even confirmed the apparent death of the head of state of the Ryccian Empire. The Drakari had similarly joined the uproar of the Ryccians, but their Emperor showed great patience. Something that seemingly was non-existent with the Ryccians from what Jiregh has seen so far. With the Stoinians at war with Venterrans and the recent instability in the Ryccian Empire, Jiregh couldn’t quite believe that these nations still sent out investigators. It was as if the Sector was on fire and chaos creates opportunities.
Now the Stoinian Legate Iustina Psella was to meet Zelvan officials on Arvarr and discuss the future relations of their respective star nations. The Ryccians had arrived as well and were eagerly refitting a building to make it their “Office of Imperial Interests”. The whole process was delicate as they neither wished to accept a gift nor buy from the Zelvans. Such was the hatred they had for the divine right. Jiregh could already feel a headache coming just thinking about these zealots. He hoped that the Stoinian Legate would prove more pragmatic.
Junget had researched everything they had on the Stoinians and had explained the best approach to improve relations with them. Any human slaves were hidden and only xeno slaves were to be shown. Their fierce believe in so called “Terran Supremacy” had even reached the Zelvan Regime and Jiregh wished to play this believe however he could. It would be most crucial to appear as if the humans in the Regime were living optimally without restrictions. This of course was a ruse, but whenever he could have a chance to hide it, he would do so. First impressions were everything and his Mitant advised to focus on their similarities rather than excuse for their differences.
The stage had been set. A Sathaung honour guard formed two lines on the landing pad where the Stoinian Legate was due to arrive. The Sathaung ware padded in grey armour from tip to toe with only a horizontal yellow vizor giving them any lindication that they might be living creatures. Each one of these towering brutes had a sheathed blocky sword and spear. It was obvious these swords had a brutal intent at the tip of it was broader than most swords and could easily be used as an axe. To the Sathaungs, this was their national symbol: the Kaudar sword. Throughout the history of the Regime, these swords had oppressed trillions and only kneeled for the Zelvan’s whip. Now however, they were under the command of Shahib Donijeg Akura and were the security forces for the diplomatic talks. The Shahib had amassed all the Great Arvarran Houses in a ceremony to welcome the Stoinian delegation in his own spire. The Sapa Zelvana also appointed a Herald to oversee the ceremony and report to her directly. The Herald was Sash na-Seter of a noble Zelvan house directly loyal to the Sapa Zelvana. The male Zelvan was nearly on par with the Sathaung Honour Guard as far as height went. Only towering because of the joint horns that now formed a circle behind his head. Na-Seter stood close to the Shahib who sat in a floating chair, hovering in the centre of the carpet. Jiregh had actually obtained the position on the right side of the Shahib to the surprise of the 40 or so Great Houses of Arvarr as House Pantecius still had more powerful equals in the feudal system. But none would dare infuriate the Shahib who was more than their first amongst equals.
Jiregh could then hear the sounds of the incoming ornithopter escorted by two Stoinian shuttles. As the Arvarro sun slowly started to set, Jiregh took a last brief look at skyline which he always enjoyed watching. About the only peace giving moment he truly ever had now as Padhuraj. The ornithopters were a unique creation. They mimicked ancient Terran dragonflies which has a remarkable resemblance with Arvarr’s own native insects if not only larger. The wings vibrated and made their characteristic humming noise as the ornithopter twirled around so the backdoor would face the Arvarran delegation. The wings folded and the door hissed open. The Stoinian Marines in full dress uniform presented their guns in front of them as they positioned themselves across the carpet. Then Legate Psella followed and Junget’s predictions proved true. This was no woman here for charms. Holding her hand on her sword, breast and chin high. Looking at the Regime’s delegation with a stern look. She marched forward with a rhythmic cadence until she suddenly stopped barely a meter in front of her Marines.
“By Royal Decree of his Majesty, King Andrei III Stoian, King of the Stoinian Star Kingdom, King of Stoinia, Tennō of Shikoku, King of Csillia, Emperor of Kontaurius and Protector of Mankind, I, Legate Iustina Psella, accept my liege’s request to represent in him and his realm on this diplomatic mission. Does the Zelvan Regime recognize my legitimacy.”
Of course, now get on with it. Jiregh thought as he wasn’t a fan of such ceremonial protocols. But he wasn’t the proper person to respond on her inquiry. Instead that duty fell to the Herald and he stepped forward putting himself in between the Legate and the Shahib.
“I, Sash na-Seter of House na-Seter and Mehtar of Zel-Antar, appointed Herald by the grace of Her Imperial and Divine Majesty, Sapa Zelvana Irva XII na-Zeltan, Divine Ruler of Zelvar, Harbinger of Enlightenment and Mother-Empress of the Zelvan Regime, recognize the legitimacy of Legate Iustina Psella. As Herald of the Errnad, I leave the full representation of the Holy Zelvan Regime in the hands of His Excellency Donijeg Akura, Shahib of Arvarr.”
A moment of silence followed. Regime protocol required that the Stoinian Legate approach the Shahib and bow before him, but Psella was in no mood to give the Regime’s nobility what they wanted. She was the duly appointed representative of her King and she wouldn’t bow to no one while doing so. Instead, she just glared at the fat hovering Arvarran. The moment started to grow more and more uncomfortable. Jiregh wanted to interject, but realized he would act without any jurisdiction. While Jiregh was planning on how to mediate from this situation, the Shahib was actually testing the Legate. Observing how she would react, but after a few more heartbeats he made a small gesture with his hands to his Sathaung Honour Guard. The Sathaung then started to shout in a manner that was vaguely similar with throat-singing. As the weird vocal chords created a reverbing sound, the room was filled with an alien sounds. The Stoinian Legate however, remained unshaken and didn’t flinch.
“I, Donijeg Akura, Shahib of Arvarr, welcome you Legate Psella as the official representative of the Zelvan Regime. May our two star nations grow ever closer and prosper from each other.”
The Shahib then looked at Jiregh who he himself looked quite surprised. The Shahib then turned back to the Legate.
“As your host, I’ve assigned Padhuraj Jiregh Pantecius to escort you on your stay here.”
This wasn’t according to plan. In fact it was a complete humiliation and House Veridurji was already grinning at the Shahib’s statement. The head of a House had seemingly been rendered to a mere aid. The public would go rampant on the news. Jiregh felt a wave of anger coming over him as he looked at the Shahib. Though the Shahib’s smile was not one of pleasure, but genuine concordance. It was then that Jiregh realized the giant boon the Shahib had given him. This put him in the exact position he needed to gain influence with the Stoinians and for his industrial empire. Yes… But what will be the price? No such deeds came without cost, sooner or later the Shahib would come and force some sort of payment out of him. For now, he would try and squeeze out any favour he could get from the Stoinians in this given opportunity.
“I, Jiregh Pantecius, Padhuraj of House Pantecius, am honoured to help you on your stay here on Arvarr, the Jewel of the Regime.”
The Legate then stepped forward and gave Jiregh the firmest handshake he had ever received. These people were martial and Jiregh had felt it firsthand.

“No defiance shall be unpunished.”
— Second Rule of Masters, the Book of Zelvana

The Shahib toured the Stoinian Legate through his spire. Showing the gilded walls which were an artistic masterpiece on its own. As Psella walked in a military rhythmic pattern, she studied the imagery on the walls. The wall depicted a sort of pyramid structure of people. Slaves of different species were at the bottom, kept there by Sathaungs and above them were the Arvarr and Zelvans preaching divine scriptures. Psella didn’t agree at all with the meaning behind the artisanry, but had to admit that it was in fact beautifully crafted and had a religious feel to it no too dissimilar from her own Neo-Byzantine culture. She was curious as to who made it.
“Padhuraj, what exactly is this picture and who made it?”
“Ah, it’s a safhaved mural. It represents the Zelvanist liturgy where the Zelvans preach their divine scriptures to their subjects. On the top you can see Sapa Zelvana Irva V and I believe this mural was made roughly 6.000 of your years ago. As for its makers…” Jiregh turned to his trusted Mitant “Junget, do you know anything about the makers of this mural? I believe it would be some Matari slaves.”
“Possibly, it would all depend on whether the mural was made before of after the Atoning Cecity.”
“Atoning Cecity?” Psella asked confusingly.
“Ah…” Jiregh halted the group as he approached the mural “The Atoning Cecity is the consequence of the Second Great Slave Revolt when the Matari lead a second revolution against the ruling class of the Regime. Her Holiness, Irva V, punished the Matari by taking away their sight through genetic alteration in an attempt to take away their vision of freedom forever.”
“You mean the Matari still hold their dreams of freedom?”
The large Shahib then floated toward the Stoinian Legate. The man smirked with a menacing smile.
“The Matari are the lowest of the low. They deserve their fate determined by the divine Zelvans and here in this spire, the Matari slaves even more so are punished for their ancestors crimes. They have neither vision, nor vocal cords. Only their hearing is left intact for only that they need to serve us.” Stuffing his mouth with some purple berries, the Shahib continued to speak while he ate “As for this mural in particular… It was indeed built by Matari slaves, right before their sight was taken away from them. This picture was the last those slaves saw, engrained in their memory for the rest of their miserable lives.”
Psella was shocked at the revelation, but she concealed her true feelings well. These people weren’t just slavers, but sadistic ones at that. The thought was so distasteful that she felt her stomach turn. She looked around inspecting the slaves wondering if any of them were Matari, but all of the slaves were xenos.
“Are there no Matari accompanying us right now? I’d like see one of them.”
“Of course, I’ll arrange a servant to aid you!” Spatted out the Shahib with some saliva.
“I’ve arranged that all will be revealed in good time, Legate. I understand your people are a very proud people and aren’t customary to our enlightened way. To soften the shock, I made some arrangements to gradually open up our society. From our previous interactions we’ve had throughout history, we’ve learned that the pages of our history written in black ink can be quite disconcerting to outsiders.”
“I understand. All in good time then.” Psella stepped forward as she didn’t wish to give any more thoughts on the matter.

Psella was brought into her room and headed straight to the balcony. The view was superb as the sky glittered with the towering spires and speeders grazing through the sky. However, this was no Daonlathas, a beacon of freedom and progress, but a dreaded prison for billions of souls who were chained to their masters. Was the cost worth it? Psella was quick to decide that it wasn’t. However Jiregh would introduce her to an alternative after making sure they were talking alone.
“Legate Psella, are you feeling quite all right?”
“Not quite. The idea of a Terran race collaborating to quash another Terran race is quite an appalling concept to us Stoinians. We view ourselves as protectors of Mankind. It seems we have some work to do…”
“I understand how you feel, Legate Psella. Though there is an alternative.”
“What alternative could possibly be there than to remove the shackles you so happily put on these souls?”
“Believe it or not, but not all masters are spiteful as the Shahib.”
“Oh how comforting to know that some of you just whip your slaves instead of taking out their vocal cords.”
“It’s nothing like that. For the past hundreds of years a New Way - the Naya Raasta - has grown in size. It’s an ideological belief that slaves do indeed deserve compassion. My own company diverts from brutalist policies among many others. Our New Way has attracted more and more Arvarr noblemen who wish to learn from the past. We believe that our slaves deserve better lives.”
“Then release them from your service all together!”
“Legate… I see you barely understand how our system works. You see, what is a slave without his master?”
“A free being.”
“A free being without guidance or passion. Tell me, how could they thrive in a free society if they have no will of their own? That is the core of the Zelvanist belief system. There are those who must rule and those who obey, that’s the order of things in the universe.”
“There are trillions of free individuals who’d like to disagree with you on that.”
“I envy your resilience, but what you ask would mean a cultural shock that would brake the Regime and its people. Civil war will cost trillions of lives. Is that truly any better than master who caress their slaves and teach them to think?”
“The fall of your Regime doesn’t sound so bad though. We could help support the rebels and install a new regime.”
“Not likely given your current state of warfare, I believe. And even if, the new regime that will be forced act as your lap dog. Instead of slaves serving their masters, this “free” nation would become a slave itself to yours. How is that more justified than what I’m doing?”
“We wouldn’t build an oppressive empire!”
“Oh, but I hear that you already are. Spreading out your influence and starting to impose them. Would you really stand idly by as an unstable regime would try and finds its own way and make some concessions. Don’t lecture us while you’re out there making pacts with your “Terran Brethren” in those so-called Tiyanki Territories and across the Sector. At least we in the Zelvan Regime don’t hide our intentions with false pretences.”
Psella was surprised by Jiregh’s remarks. It became blatantly clear that her morals had been tested and these people had a different view on what was just and what wasn’t. Her assignment here had just revealed itself to be even more challenging than that she anticipated.
“Now, Legate, we may disagree on what we perceive to be just. What we both want is a change in the regime. Whether it is an immediate change or a gradual one, they’re both the same. I know the Regime better than you and trust me when I say that the Naya Raasta is the new way forward. A future that grows more and more tangible everyday within my people.”
“Then what exactly are you suggesting?”
“How do you intend we do that to accomplish the goals of your Naya Raasta? Simply by us wavering a sign that slavery’s just while we stand idly by and pat you on the back?”
“Help me and my associates get into power. Work together with us through commerce and it will increase both our wealth and positions. We’ll be able to finally make meaningful reforms that will shift to a more benevolent future. Isn’t that worth investing in?”
Psella pondered for a moment, but gave a short reply for the moment as she dismissed Jiregh towards the door.
The seed had been planted and Jiregh smiled. His plan began to bear fruit and none of the other Great Houses had any idea.

“A slave as your friend is a commonality, a slaver as your friend is a luxury, another master as your friend is a treasure.”
— The Book of Zelvana

Jiregh drank his morning coufhee on the same balcony where he had enjoyed his first coufhee when he became the Phaduraj of his House. Jincra, the elderly Tvo’Lek had just given him his morning drink, sat down next to him. Still somewhat unsure if it was appropriate, but Jiregh was determined to change the way she looked upon her master.
“Jincra… How’s your family doing?” Jiregh asked politely while sipping from his warm drink.
“Oh they’re doing… All right. Really it’s none of your business, Phaduraj.” Jincra replied
“Oh, but the well-being of my slave’s family is important.” He lowered his cup and smiled at Jincra. “Especially when I think of expanding the Spire’s household servants.”
“But, we’re operating just fine, Master. What does my family have to do with it?” Jincra asked confusingly.
“Don’t you miss them?” He asked with a sharp tone cutting right through Jincra’s cloud of unfocused questions.
She stuttered for a moment and looked surprised at Jiregh.
“I do, Master.”
She looked down as if she had done something wrong. Jiregh lifted her chin up with his right hand. Gently and softly.
“Then how would you feel if we brought them under the same household as yours?”
“Master! I-I…” Jincra leapt forward and embraced Jiregh. Her eyes broke out in tears as she uttered her thanks.
Jiregh didn’t hold back either. Instead he reciprocated and tightened his grip around her. It was a feeling none of the Chan ka Raasta would feel as they believed in the brutal oppression. But the Naya Raasta was different. It acknowledged the hierarchy but less so through brutal means. Moments like these would never take place in the Chan ka Raasta. Jiregh found that an empowerment in these moments. Not just for him but for his slaves as well. That’s why he nurtured them and protected their families. The path forward was by the wip but by an embrace.
“I’ll make the arrangements. We’ll get your family under this safe roof. That I promise you, Jincra.”
“But Master… Why?” Jincra asked as she wiped away her tears.
“You have served me well Jincra. You’re family shouldn’t needlessly suffer. You belong together under the same roof of your Master. Our Regime knows much brutality but perhaps it’s time for a new path. A new page in our history where Master and slave shouldn’t fear each other. A brighter future for both which cannot be achieved without one. I want to help build that future.”
“The Naya Raasta… Master I had no idea you were a follower of the new way.”
“Nor should anyone. Remember, I’m the Phaduraj of House Pantecius. If great Arvarr Houses heard of it, many would see me replaced. So keep it to yourself, can you guarantee that?”
“Of course, Master. You’ve more than earned my eternal trust!”
“Good. Now go and help in the kitchen. I’m sure they can use your help there.”
“At once, Master.”
Jiregh looked at her as she walked back inside. He could see her joy by just her walk. It was a virtue indeed to see a loyal happy slave. His personal Mitant, Junget Eraster, walked in from the balcony door.
“Jiregh, I have an update concerning astropolitics.”
“Well say it then.” Jiregh said bluntly as he took another sip from his coufhee.
“The Ryccian Empire is undergoing a full scale societal reorganization. The Emperor has reclaimed his power and is laying siege to the Imperial Senate. I estimate an 92,5% probability they will become more militant.”
“And that’s a problem because?”
“Because they are a sleeping giant filled with hatred to our societal hierarchy. They’ll wish for the utter destruction of the Regime. If they should grow militant, they’ll come for us.”
“So the Sathaungs will have a new challenge. From what I understand pursuing normal relations with the Ryccians wouldn’t be a viable option for the next millennium.”
“You’re correct in that assessment. However, I fear they still hold enough political influence to ensure a total boycott with other star nations. We’ll be cut off if not attacked on multiple fronts should they press for an immediate intervention.”
“You really think it would come to that. With the profile the Ryccians have, I fear the odds.”
“So instead we should focus on the star nations we can have normal relations with then?”
“That would certainly soften the effects of an interventionist Ryccian Empire. Though these Stoinians seem as the only viable partner to do so. Yet they seem too shocked for a future of cooperation.”
Jiregh pondered for a moment. He would need to earn Legate Psella’s trust one way or the other. Though how could he show cooperation to someone who didn’t wish to see reality? Yes. Make her believe of her own vision and use that trust to build upon.
“Indeed. Perhaps we should show her a gesture of good faith.”
“How do you intend to do that?”
“By giving her what she wants… In fact a whole family.”