[1 BBT] The Legate's Tower

OOC Note:
Reposting of the original thread from the past forums.
Characters of the Ryccian Empire have been RP’ed by @Ryccia

Ryccian Empire,
Executive District

 Two months had passed since the King’s visit to the Ryccian Empire. The talks were deemed a succes by many, including himself. The result was the acquisition of a new tower on Daonlathas as embassy and early headquarters for Stoinian Companies, including ISN. The position of Legate, a Stoinian “military” Ambassador, was heavily fought for, but eventually the job had been given to Jeffrey David Sinclair. A Stoinian War Veteran and Major General in the Marine Corps who long wished for a more less peaceful assignment. As preparation he was briefed by the King on how and what to expect from the Ryccians. He also followed a course in French or Tionese as the Ryccians called to better mingle with the aristocratic elite. His main mission was to relay diplomatic messages and help Stoinians settle in, but doing so optimally would require to adapt to the Ryccians. The King’s delegation had received a sky tour of Daonlathas, but never set foot on it. Sinclair would be the first Stoinian to set foot on the heart of Ryccia.

Legate Sinclair.

 Alongside Sinclair a small detachment of Stoinian Royal Guardsmen, several civilian diplomatic officials, a few corporate members and of course his wife, Rebecca. Unfortunately she had to quit her job, but the Legate salary more than compensated for it. Of course having 8 children was no easy task, quite unimaginable for a Ryccian, but he managed. Five children had to come with them. Those were John (9), Erin (9), Lily (11), Robert (13) and William (15). David was at East Point (military Academy) and Paul would also enter it soon. Margaret was still studying nursery at Louisiana Planetary university, besides they had grown up enough to take care for themselves. Luckily the Ryccian government had allowed them to follow courses at the Imperial Academy’s schools. The option was given to exempt the children from racism classes, but Sinclair refused. He extended his philosophy of adapting to his children and his men.
 HMS Hermit had entered orbit of Daonlathas and Sinclair’s shuttle was now entering orbit. Because he would be the first Stoinian to set foot on Daonlathas Ryccian News Networks had set up on the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower’s landing platform to catch this historic moment. As the Pelican twirled around to open up Sinclair finally saw Daonlathas and set his first footsteps on Daonlathas. The Ryccian news officials took pictures as the Royal Guardsmen formed a line on each side of Sinclair. He then marched forward and gave a small speech to the Ryccian officials.
 - “Greetings Ryccians. I am Legate Jeffrey David Sinclair of the Stoinian Star Kingdom and I will serve as its Ambassador to the Ryccian Empire. It is my and my people’s will that we maintain friendly relations with your Empire. I will relay official messages from my government to yours. That’s what an Ambassador should do, but I intend to do more. I am also here to learn more of your people and customs. To better understand you and live amongst you. Enfin, je essaierai d’aussi parler votre langue que vous appellez Tionese. My children will also follow courses with your children. And no for anyone out there, they will not eat your children. They too shall adapt to your customs as will every member of this diplomatic mission. Now I am sure I will get to know many of you personally as we will have a lot of press conferences together. But please hold on a bit to your journalism duties and allow myself to make me comfortable in my new house.”
 Then he was met by the Vurbentan architect, Kaixgre Vuxotsen, of the Tower and was given a tour of the Tower. Unlike hardline officers, he wasn’t quite as disgusted by their appearance. Merely finding them odd, something he would grow accustomed to over time. A small commercial zone at the bottom allowing for traders to set up their temporary shops and start trading with the local populace. Given the Stoinians love for nature the Architect had placed trees alongside the alley where the markets would come. Sinclair gave him his compliments for the effort. Next were the headquarters for the companies. Small offices with large windows and Sinclair could take his first views of Daonlathas and was already amazed by it. Flying cars all over the place? Where was the order in that? Upon closer inspection he saw the main traffic lines, but the sheer amount of them perplexed him. The Ryccians sure meant it when they said they were ancient. Up next were the press conference and living quarters. The quarters were small, but they had character. Finally up top were his own quarters which was in fact a penthouse due to his “extended family”. He went to visit his bureau, truly a sleek design. Of course there was a large window which lead to his balcony. Unwilling to wait any longer, he went outside and admired the majestic view. Seeing the Imperial Senate in all it’s might.

 Daonlathas was metallic, but still majestic in its own form. Perhaps this finding of admiration is what got him the job. A willingness to see the good of Ryccians, not just as decadent people. He then ordered for the rest of the Stoinian delegation to move in and make themselves at home. Later that day he would visit the Ryccian Imperial Academy’s schools for his children ensuring they could start within the next few days. They may not know it yet, but they had received a great honour from the Ryccians to be allowed there without any sort of testing. Nonetheless, Sinclair voiced his thanks to the headmaster of the school during their tour. However the headmaster did voice his concern by not allowing their children to get the elite lifestyle that came with acceptance at the Academy’s schools. However Sinclair replied with a short answer “They might be Ryccian educated, but they still should have Stoinian hearts.”
 The whole Stoinian delegation had settled and were now ready to show these Ryccies what it meant to be Stoinian. HMS Hermit had long gone for its long voyage back home. Sinclair’s first task tomorrow was to speak at the press conference regarding Stoinian tourism locations such as Sinaia, Hyperion, Elysium, Corillia, Csillia, Gagarin and of course the tropical Rishka. His pitch would be essential to start the tourism and inform the Ryccian populace. Regardless of his Military career, he enjoyed this civilian aspect of the job. Yet because of all the admiration he couldn’t quite yet sleep. So he set out to his penthouse’s balcony and drink tea. His family had already fallen asleep so he had to be careful not to make too much noise. Daonlathas was majestic at day, but it was downright beautiful at night with all the lights. Sinclair grabbed a chiar while admiring the view, trying to follow some speeders, but it still all overwhelmed him. Slowly but steadily he too fell asleep on his balcony while admiring the view.


 The next day was a good one as he began his day with his routine running in the market alley early in the morning. His pitch on the Stoinian resort worlds was good, but when asked as to where Stoinian tourists should go he only had this to say.
 - “To my Stoinian Brethren who want to visit the Ryccian Empire, I would suggest to not look any further. For Daonlathas is the city that never sleeps. It’s mere existence is a miracle to me and I can say you right now. That even at the end of my mandate here, I won’t have fully explored this planet myself. Daonlathas truly is the Crown Jewel of the Ryccian Empire.”

 It had been a week now, slowly but steadily they were starting to feel at home. Of course the children wanted to go back, but later on they will be thankful for the experience. Or so he hoped.
After the short press conference, Sinclair was approached by a woman from Imperial News Network, Katrani Corgill. She had asked him if a possible exclusive interview could happen. Sinclair accepted and beligerently refused any other interviews. The day of the interview had come.
 - “Let’s begin with the more visible irregularities. As I understand your job title isn’t Ambassador, but Legate? And this has military connotations from what I understand? I mean your uniform reveals that somewhat, unless it isn’t a military uniform.”
 - ‘‘Yes, the title is Legate and this is indeed a Legate’s uniform. Within our Kingdom foreign policy is jointly operated by the military and civilian government. For those who don’t already know, the military is run independently from government, but both serve under the King who serves as a bridge between the two.’’
 - ‘‘Ah I see, so the role of your monarch is quite important in politics’?’
 - ‘‘In a way yes. Constitutionally the monarch has quite a lot of power. However there are a few unwritten rules as well. The monarch is expected to respect the will of the people and accept the Chancellor and grant him those powers. There also is the Parliamentary Guard which prevents any coup d’états from the King. Whether the King involves himself in politics is entirely up to him. Previous Kings have taken distance from politics and left internal affairs completly to politicians while focusing on their duties in the military.’’
 - ‘‘And what kind of King is King Andrei?’’
 - ‘‘I think his press conference of the state visit made that clear. He is very caring for his people.’’
 - ‘‘But aren’t you afraid he could misuse his powers?’’
 ‘‘If you know recent - Stoinian history than you will see why people trust him.’’
 - ‘‘Please do enlighten us.’’
 - ‘‘Around thirty years ago, when I was about 10 years old, our King Alexandru III tried to initiate first contact with the Velutarians. He was killed in the process and thus the gruesome Velutarian War started. King Andrei was but a mere newborn at the time. Tensions rose between the civilian government and the military, while the Velutarians located our outer colonies and conquered them. The Terrans on those colonies were subjugated into horrible experiments by the technologically superior Velutarians. It was then that the Royal Council appointed Grand General MacArthur as the Regent. The military was de facto in power during the war. The war lasted for 18 years and 8.7 trillion Terrans died, more than half of our population back then. I don’t see how a civilian government would have dealt any better than MacArthur did.’’
 - ‘‘But isn’t that illegal? What about the representation of the people? Weren’t they ignored?’’
 - ‘‘People openly supported MacArthur. The O’Connel government didn’t know anything on how to fight a war and their initial command proved devastating for our forces. That’s why the Royal Council elected MacArthur as Regent. We needed a wartime leader, it was time for war and no political squabbling. The people had spoken and the process was well within our law system. Yes MacArthur then installed Legates as military governors on planets and there was some resistance, but we were fighting a losing war. Were it not for MacArthur, Hague and Cole, I wouldn’t be standing here. King Andrei then prepared his whole life to lead us in this war. At 17 he commanded Task Forces against the Velutarians and when he turned 18 he became the Butcher of Velutaria. From that day on he proved himself to us.’’
 - ‘‘Fascinating, did you serve in this Velutarian War?’’
 - ‘‘In some capacities everyone served, to resource mining to actual fighting. I joined the Marine Corps and served in the 214th Regiment. Oorah!’’
 Sinclair also proceeded to do a military salute at the oorah. He had forgotten about the connotation it had within the Ryccian Empire, right now he could only hope for the best. Katrani Corgill looked a bit shocked, but quickly followed with the next question.
 - ‘‘But didn’t your Kingdom try resolve this peacefully?’’
 - ‘‘When xenos don’t try to even communicate with us and killed our King, I think those acts speak for themselves. Regardless of how technologically superior they were, they committed an act of war and later atrocities. The Ryccian people should know that by now that you shouldn’t provoke Stoinians in such a manner.’’
 Sinclair may have made an error here by provoking the Ryccians with the Rascal Incident. Katrani Corgill was a top journalist for a reason. She too could swing back in her own way.
 - ‘‘The Rascal Incident aside, don’t you think the Stoinians might be overzealous in their xenophobia?’’
 - ‘‘Overzealous? Madam Corgill, four times our race was threatened by xenos. Our extinction was a day to day worry. Your ideals are commendable, but our part of space tells us that those ideals can’t always be put in practice. When you’re part of space was infested by barbarian pirates and clans, you don’t become as open as you are. And what you call xenophobia, we call it a reality check.’’
 - ‘‘An interesting perspective, but isn’t that way of thinking dangerous to other races? Is it instilled in your military that feeling?’’
 - ‘‘Of course its drilled into us mostly in military style programs at schools. The military is the protector of the people and you don’t want weak men with their heads in the clouds protecting you. That way of thinking is what kept us alive time and time again when we faced extinction. As to other species, we can find common ground. The Csin are a prime example of that.’’
 - “I have found a little bit about these Csin , but I think you have to agree that they look quite human like. I believe the Stoinians might have a preference for only humanoid races. Races which only look according to your humanocentric view. Would you have the same reacting if they were for example Uraktiksak? "
 - “I am afraid I am unfamiliar with these Urakti … How are they called?”
 Katrani then opened a holoprojector depicting the predatory xenos. Sinclair hadn’t expected such a vile creature to appear. These Ryccian ideals had to be ingrained in them for such a vile beast to be accepted into their ranks. Sinclair’s slight disgust could be seen by the most attentive watchers.
 - “Uraktiksak. Would they likely have received the same “gratification” as the Csin ?”
 - “Obviously madam Corgill, I am not in charge of making such policy. You also forget that the Csin have proven themselves in battle and fought alongside us in the Mardakii Crusade. They shed their blood as well for our common enemy.”
 - “But would you accept them into your Kingdom as worthy citizens based on the info I have given you?”
 - “I believe your schools teach racism classes. Classes which weren’t deemed necessary for my children, but I insisted they took them. I may not exactly know what is taught in those classes, but I have an idea. And like yourselves, we don’t just judge a book by its cover. We Stoinians speak through deeds, if the Urakti … Uraktiksak understand that and prove themselves, I don’t see a single problem.”
 Katrani looked quite inquisitively at Sinclair.
 - “You mentioned the Mardakii Crusade … What exactly is this crusade? Did you serve in that one as well?”
 - “No, I have had my fair share of battles and have focused on training young Marines after the Velutarian War. The Crusade was mostly with select volunteer forces lead by the King. The crusade was meant to eliminate hostile Mardakii threats which inhabited the space between us and the Csin Palatinate at the time. But that isn’t the entire context. In the first ten years a Mardakii clan invaded our homeworld and committed atrocities far worse than the Velutarians … In some instances … Terrans were eaten. Ever since then it has become our duty to eliminate them and ensure no other species endures what we have by the hands of the Mardakii.”
 - “But isn’t that, to put it bluntly, genocide?”
 - “It was us or them. When your children are at stake, you don’t overthink it. What the first generation of Stoinians endured is unimaginable and should never be repeated to any species out there. And if it meant to kill the Mardakii then so be it.”
 - “What about the Mardakii children? Aren’t they innocent?”
 - “The children we ignored until the end of the Crusade. We tried to make a clear difference between Mardakii soldiers and civilians. Although at times it was hard to distinguish the difference due to their animalistic nature and it quickly became a thing of which Mardakii stormed at your men. The children were then captured and put in nature preserves to live their lives on where they couldn’t hurt any other species.”
 Katrani was astonished. By Ryccian standards they had committed war crimes and their Legate just admitted to it. She quickly shook it off and went on with the interview.
 - “But don’t you think that’s inhumane?”
 - “Compared to eating, butchering and enslaving innocent Terrans? No, we gave them a chance to redeem themselves. There is an order of things in the universe. Like the predators and herbivores, you shouldn’t poke the wrong lion as we put it.”
 - “Quite interesting … But let’s instead focus on yourself. I think we have quite enough to digest about the facts you have given us. Politics can be quite unnerving …”
 - “I understand, the very ideals you hold dear are being challenged. I truly admire your values, but our part of this sector has made us into what we are. We were forged in fire, but will never admit to become ashes.”
 - “I see … Have you settled in with your new homes yet?”
 - “Yes, though I am still getting used to viewing only cities. But the trees in our commercial zone help a lot. I must say, I think I am growing a soft spot for Daonlathas.”
 - “How interesting. And your family and entourage have the same feeling?”
 - “Well the kids already want to go home, but yeah its hard on them. I hope later in life they will come to see and appreciate the unique opportunity that has been given to them. To be here amongst you is a huge honour, let alone to be taught in famous schools.”
 - “Good to hear you have an optimistic view. Have you had many visits regarding businesses who want to expand in both our nations?”
 - “A few here and there, but nothing too special. However I suspect and influx of Stoinians will come over the next few weeks. So if any of the Ryccian companies want to expand in the Star Kingdom, the Stoinian Embassy is open from 9 to 17 every day except on Sunday. Come about and we’ll guide you to a successful career in Stoinia.”
 - “Well perhaps I will come more frequently to visit those Stoinian shops or a cup of coffee with such a good pitchman.”
 - “Oh I myself am more of a tea man. A good ol’ earl grey.”
 - “Ah a man of tea? Though I can’t say I am familiar with that taste.”
 - “All the more reason to come visit the embassy.”
 - “I sure will. Legate Sinclair thank you very much for the interview.”
 - “No thank you and I’ll see you around my embassy then.”
 They both smiled and then shook each others hand. Sinclair gave a firm handshake as was expected in Stoinia, while Katrani was quite shocked by the amount of force Sinclair had used. Sinclair had adjusted to a more elegant handshake that you gave women, but even then it proved quite a surprise for Katrani. They a few more talks and Katrani had given Sinclair her word she would come around for a visit.
 Later that night a fallout emerged on news networks. Some more radical headlines than others. National Review: “Legate Sinclair confirmed Stoinian barbarity!” ''A parasite that profits from our schools!” The People’s Inquirer: ''Stoinians might kill an Uraktiksak because of its looks?!" While others were more reserved. INN: “Stoinian values challenge ours. A deeper look at their Legate.” Even at home the Progressive Xeno Party was outraged by Sinclair’s openness about the Mardakii Crusade and their aftermath. Thank God he hadn’t started about the Great Hunt. Some wanted Sinclair to be recalled, but the higher ups refused. This was to be expected and rather than replacing Sinclair with a new person who wouldn’t have the same qualities and make other mistakes, the Stoinian Government had decided that what Sinclair needed was a Ryccian Advisor. Luckily the Ryccians had just the right person in mind.

Ryccian Empire,
A few days after the Legate’s interview

 Ferul wasn’t pleased with what had happened at the interview. The Legate was sloppy with not asking the content of the questions first. If he indeed wanted to promote Ryccian-Stoinian economic ties, he would need an advisor, a Ryccian, who would help him tread the thin lines of Ryccian culture. He sat down with a few from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They needed an advisor to Sinclair, someone that would and could work with him. Hence why aristocratic members and those of a more wealthy background wer ignored. Initial talks revealed that they didn’t want to be associated with what some of them called, barbarians. Therefore they needed someone more pedestrian, as someone from the lowest classes might upset the Stoinians. He had the Ministry of Foerign Affairs make him a report on the most suitable candidates.
 The following morning Ferul reviewed the potential candidates and none seemed to quite fit the category. Until he took a better look at the last one: Foixon Pureshan. He took a closer look at his file.


Name Foixon Perushan
Home Planet Sheilan
Age 31
Education Law, University Sheilan
Job Offical within Sheilan’s planetary government

 He went deeper and found that his father was an artisan as well, just like Sinclair’s. His father handmade Kiyusni furniture to the wealthy. To non-Velpans Kiyusni was often called “Velpan Wood” as it came from the Kiyu. Thus, Foixon, whilst not employed in this trade, had a bit of experience with carpentry, mostly from his childhood. As he further read through his files he only saw commendations. It was decided then, it was time Ferul had a little chat with this promising Velpan.

Velpan Rim,
Foixon’s apartment

 Foixon had just returned from a diplomatic mission to the Imperial Rim, he was sent to discuss some imports on a new trade route, and was quite tired from it. He wanted to relax the rest of the day with his girlfriend, Ferala Valkeut in his apartment and said to himself.
 - “If I keep up like this, I might even get an apartment on Daonlathas itself.”
 He proceeded to eat his meal with his loved one and felt quite full after the first course. However he wanted to celebrate his mission’s success and was about to consume the roseven liquid, when his holocommunicator beeped off. He checked the signal. The Chancellor?! He quickly made himself presentable and opened the comm in the room next door.
 - “Your Imperial Excellency, what can I do for you?”
 - “No need to waste time Mr. Pureshan. I have the opportunity of a lifetime.”
 Foixon was stupefied. What could this be? Could his hard work finally have paid off?
 - "Please do tell Chancellor?‘’
 - “Are you aware of the new Legate from Stoinia and his interview?”
 Of course! Who hadn’t seen that flop of an interview? Truly the Legate needed some lessons in Ryccian culture. Some of the outer colonies might appreciate his honesty, but such harsh truths are mostly taboo, especially in the Core. Wait, was the Chancellor hinting at something?
 - “Yes, your Excellency, that interview with INN could have gone quite smoother.”
 - “And that is why I am calling you.”
 - “That much I figured out now, but I am not sure I quite follow …”
 - “We have an offer for you. How about you become the Ryccian Advisor to the Stoinian Legate? That way we can prevent future fallouts and save the Stoinian reputation as economic ties with them is within our interests.”
 - “I understand your Excellency.”
 - “Good, then you can pack your things as you will have your personal room in the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower.”
 - “Truly an honour, your Excellency.”
 - “Very well Mr. Perushan, we will expect you as soon as possible.”
 - “Yes your Excellency, I will make haste.”
 - “Good, good night Mr. Perushan.”
 Ferul then hang up. Foixon was ecstatic for a Velpan, his dream to have an apartment had just come true. On Daonlathas the capital of the Ryccian Empire!
 - “Ferala, pack your things!”
 - “Why Foixon? What’s the matter with you?”
 - “We’re moving to Daonlathas!”
 Ferala was shocked and Foixon explained her about his new job. This surely was to be celebrated and began their celebratory night with consuming the roseven liquid.

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
Three days later

 The Ryccian nationalists had started riots following the interview. For three consecutive days they stood before the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower, asking for Sinclair’s resignation and the withdrawal of the agreements made by both governments. Boards with “Get the parasite of Daonlathas!” “Barbarians go home!” were common those days. It even got so bad that Sinclair didn’t allow his children to go to school for those days. Ryccian Riot Police did their best and kept everything under control and civil. However more and more people were gathering at these protests and escalation was imminent. If Sinclair couldn’t resolve this within a week he more than certainly would be recalled. Luckily help was on the way. Foixon made his way to Sinclair’s office after he had settled in.
 Sinclair looked from his balcony at the riots as Foixon entered his luxurious office. Only a few words were needed to get these rioters out. He was somewhat perplexed, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. The door chime could be heard.
 - “Come in.”
 Foixon walked confidently towards the bureau.
 - “Legate Sinclair, I am Foixon Perushan. Your new Ryccian Advisor sent by my government.”
 Sinclair didn’t turn and answered stoical.
 - “So you must be the cavalry then. My new aide de camps as I put it.”
 Foixon recognized the few Tionese words, but he didn’t know the language. Regardless he was here to advise and didn’t quite care for Sinclair’s manners towards him.
 - “I don’t quite follow, Sir. Perhaps you can enlighten me after we have dealt with the problems at hand.”
 Sinclair turned towards him.
 - “Good, I prefer it when men get to the point.”
 Sinclair handed his hand out, Foixon hesitated a bit at first, but gave him a simple handshake. And as a true fan of Core culture, he didn’t press as hard whilst giving the handshake. Sinclair however noticed that Foixon was used to giving more firm handshakes. The initial power he felt was comparable to his own. This Foixon has indeed potential he though to himself.
 - “I must say, Sir. You’re lucky you didn’t admit to a war crime. That would have been enough in itself to demand your resignation.”
 - “And have a more radical Legate in my place? My government isn’t that stupid. Believe it or not, but I am as centrist as we Stoinians come.”
 - “Perhaps so, but you are on Daonlathas now. You must adapt to our ways if you want your career to continue.”
 - “Very well then. You are my new advisor, so … Advise me then.”
 - “We are currently in a phase of damage control, we need to find a way to calm out the mob. Perhaps a televised excuse for your government’s actions would be a good place to start. You didn’t say anything else towards news outlets, did you?”
 - “No, of course not. I made it clear to my staff that from now we will only do interviews with questions beforehand. As for your suggestion … I won’t excuse my government’s actions. It did the right thing and you won’t change that. I saw what those xenos did and I cannot simply forgive them for it. Do you know what it feels like to lose men you promised to get them home back safe?”
 - “Frankly, Sir. I don’t care whatever you have been through I am here to help you find the thin lines of our society. However since you are quite stubborn to actually excuse your government, I suggest that we use some techniques they use in politics. Make it look like an excuse, but not actually excuse yourself. Find a way with words that make it sound like it without actually saying it. I saw the interview and suspect you somewhat dodged a few questions here and there. Would that be satisfactory?”
 This Velpan was quite detached. Not caring for Sinclair’s past and the horrors he’s been through. Perhaps he had a point, perhaps the Ryccians felt that way, but none had dared to say it to him. However, he was clever.
 - “I see, then let us work on a speech then. Though I have an idea about televising it.”
 - “Please do tell?”
 - “Have a podium set up in front of the riot.”
 - “Are you mad?! That will only invoke the riots even more!”
 - “If I am to kill the deer I hunt, I want to look it in the eye when I do it. Besides I have faced far worse in the war.”
 - “But Ryccian opinion on Stoinians is deteriorating as we speak, we don’t have an leeway for games here Sir.”
 - “Do you remembered what I said in the interview?” Where is the madman going with this now?
 - "I’m afraid I don’t quite understand? The atrocities about your government?‘’
 - “No, about us Stoinians. We were forged in fire, but we will never admit to become ashes. We speak through action, I want the Ryccians to know that we will stand our ground for our beliefs.”
 Foixon was a fan of hunting and understood the point Sinclair had made to him. It was a feeling from one hunter to another. It was certainly not something he would expect from a human.
 - “That much is already clear to me. But I will do as you wish and inform the staff for the necessary preparations.”
 - “Good after that you can come here again and review my speech.”
 Foixon nodded and left the room. He couldn’t care less if Sinclair would lose his position, clearly he was a madman, he hoped he could remain here on Daonlathas if things went sour.
I like him, for a Velpan …

1 Like

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
2 hours later

 In front of the riots a small podium was constructed to host Sinclair’s speech. Foixon had alerted the news outlets and their holocamera’s were all around the place. Tensions were high and the nerves had began to grow inside of Foixon. Sinclair remained cool and went through his speech with Foixon. Foixon adjusted his words and phrasing where needed. The moment of truth had come. Sinclair marched towards the podium and a rioter had managed to throw a sort of paint at him, but Sinclair was quick enough to evade it. The Riot Police then pushed the rioters further away as to prevent such further incident. The cameras were rolling now and everyone was looking at Sinclair who hadn’t flinched.
 - “Citizens of Daonlathas and Ryccia. It seems that our cultural differences have finally clashed. This was of course to be expected at a certain point. I just had hoped to know you better before it happened. However I have to address the elephant in the room. Some might see me as a war criminal, apparently some even view me as a parasite.”
 Some shouting could be heard from the mob. Sinclair quickly had to get to the point now.
 - “However I am not a war criminal. I answered the call to defend my family from terrors which none of us wish upon one another. Do not think for a second that we enjoy war. War is gruesome and unforgiving. Within that chaos it quickly becomes a fight for your own survival and the atrocities that happen in that chaos are indeed regrettable. We don’t kill xenos out of pleasure, but only because we were forced to. The fact that I stand here and have a civil discussion with you proves that point. You have shown us civility and decency, which we hardly expected coming from our part of the sector, but here we are. Having a civil discussion against all the odds. It should only prove that we aren’t the warmongers you believe we are. On the contrary, we fight the same problem of slavery. We have intervened when barbarian races enslaved primitives for their own sake. Because such atrocities should never be allowed on anyone.”
 - “Now I understand you won’t change your opinion overnight, but I ask of you to listen to us and have this civil discussion. Pointing fingers and using derogatory terms won’t correct our mistakes, talking about them does however. My children have taught me about the racism classes and they said to me: “Dad, today I learned to not judge people by their past and instead focus on who they actually are today.” And that can only be achieved through civil discussion. So please, let’s calm down and have that discussion. If there are indeed wounds, they should be healed, not dipped in salt. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your day.”
 The mob had calmed down, though a few radicals could still be heard. It was now a game of time. That question would be answered later tonight.

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
2 hours after the news

 Foixon decided to check up on Sinclair. He didn’t quite care really, but felt like it would be curtesy. His damage control had worked and most news outlets were commending Sinclair’s initiative to appeal to civil discourse. Of course the radicals still want Sinclair gone, but they were radicals. Foixon entered the office and was met by Sinclair drinking tea in his chair while listening to the news.
 - “The speech has the intended effect Sir.”
 - “Perhaps, but I still feel like there is damage.”
 - “That’s because you listen too much to the radicals. They are a minority you know, most Ryccians were touched about the quote of your kids. It was a fine speech Sir.”
 - “We’ll see about that. I’ll judge when I see further evolution of Star Kingdom’s reputation.”
 Sinclair took a sip from his tea.
 - “Sir if I may inquire, what is an ad de cam? I recognized it must be some form of Tionese.”
 Sinclair closed the television and turned to Foixon.
 - “Quite clever indeed. Aide de camps. It is French, as we call it. It’s a term for the right hand man for a military commander.”
 - “You must be aware that I have no military service.”
 - Yes I am, but when the military is your life’s career, you stick to a few things you learned from it. You view things in a certain perspective. Sometimes its hard to view another’s."
 - “I guess some members of the mob have that problem as well. But this tension will loosen up the next days, though I suggest you might want to hold off any incoming Stoinian companies.”
 - “Will do.”
 Sinclair then stood up and handed his hand out again. Foixon was again confused but went along and shook his hand. This time he returned the same amount of force Sinclair had given him. There is indeed potential in this Velpan.
 - “It’s good to have you onboard, Foixon. If the word of an accused war criminal is any worth to you.”
 Foixon was slightly amused by Sinclair’s comment, but didn’t show any of it. Instead responding coldly.
 - “The honour is mine Sir.”

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,

 A few days had passed since Sinclair’s speech confronting the controversies and it was deemed safe again. His children had gone back to school and some Stoinian delegations had arrived, looking to expand their businesses in Ryccia. Amongst them was a certain individual who had requested a private hearing with the Legate. and had somehow managed to avoid his name being revealed. This man soon entered Legate Sinclair’s office and he sure was in for the surprise.
 - “I hope I am not disturbing our dear Legate.”
 Sinclair was stupefied. The man was none other than Nick O’Carr, the famous Stoinian Bounty Hunter.
 - “Damn, so this is our best Bounty Hunter? The famous Mr. O’Carr.”
 O’Carr twirled with his hat as he put it back on and handed out his hand.

Nick OÇarr
Nick O’Carr.

 - “The one and only. I must say Daonlathas is quite a jewel.”
 - “Are you referring to the architecture or your business potential?”
 - “I don’t think we know a material worth as much as my business potential here.”
 - “So you trying to expand your businesses in the Ryccian Empire?”
 - “Only the private investigator part. I have been informed Bounty Hunting is outlawed in the Empire or have may sources been mistaken?”
 - “You sources were indeed correct. Please sit down Mr. O’Carr.”
 Sinclair gestured with his hand as he himself sat down. O’Carr sat down, but quickly threw his feet on the table.
 - “Tank you, Legate Sinclair. Since I am here to discuss business, let’s talk it. I am sure the Legate of our Star Kingdom to the Ryccia Empire has quite a busy schedule.”
 - “Well it’s mostly now helping Stoinians set themselves up here and there. The Ryccians are still a bit sour from the backlash from my interview. God damn these people … But what can I help you with.”
 - “I see, well my current plan is to get to know people better. Know how they react in certain manners, how they think that stuff. Since you are the Stoinian with the most experience, I figured I could learn from you. So what can you tell me besides the obvious. Oh by the way, can I light up my cigarillo?”
 - “I’d rather you didn’t. I am sure my Velpan aide would smell it and he wouldn’t be appreciative of it. Besides, you might want to hide the smoking, I suspect they won’t appreciate it. For as decadent as these people can be, I haven’t seen anything like it. But these people might surprise me. So you want my advice on how to deal with these people?”
 - “I understand. Your office, your rules. Well you said they are decadent. Perhaps we should start there.”
 - “You can see it for yourself in the bars around here. Their flamboyant clothing choice says enough. Hell, I even think they might throw you out if they see you sitting in a chair like that?”
 - “Oh, you want me to lower my legs?”
 - “Oh no, please make yourself comfortable. If this makes you feel at home, go at it. You’ll get nerved real easy with these Ryccians as it is.”
 - O’Carr tipped his hat as Sinclair continued.
 - “Well they seem to think they are above us. The same way we see xeno races as barbarians they see us, though they would rather educate than neutralise us. Well … Most of them anyway. I have heard the more rural worlds might be more easy going, but everything on this planet is a hundred times worse than the most luxurious restaurant in Sinaia. That aside, don’t use racial slurs. They have classes in schools about it and that should say enough about it.”
 - “Gotcha, no Ryccies, Long Necks, Fox Face and Slime Faces?”
 - “I see people should get more creative. But yeah, don’t use your imagination here. Treat every species as if they were Terran.”
 - “Well hold on, I can’t dance with a Kaminoan lady now can I? So why should they expect me to treat her like one of our ladies?”
 - “Avoid those cases, but when you speak don’t make differences and you’ll be fine.”
 - “So … How do you ask a Kaminoan Lady out for a dance?”
 - “Well if you have tried it on an ice cold lady before who barely shows emotion or interest what so ever, than you might have a shot. Other than that, don’t. From what I have gathered they’re more of the scientists of the Ryccian Empire. They want cold efficiency I imagine. But you might want to research if they indeed do dance …”
 - “Noted. And these Vurb … Vurbentans, that’s it. What’s the deal with them?”
 - “Don’t know, they seem to act pretty much like we do from what I have seen. As a matter of fact I can only say they are good architects. This tower was designed by one.”
 - “Ah I see, get these guys to know hand on. Maybe ask a lady of theirs for a dance …”
 Sinclair couldn’t help but chuckle. O’Carr was indeed persistent.
 - “And the Velpans, what about them?”
 - “They’re bloody cold killers. But in all seriousness, if anything they are probably the species incarnation of old corrupt politicians. They’re cunning and don’t underestimate them for you are in their territory. Although you might get some small talk if you start about hunting. The King told me they might be the only ones left to appreciate such pleasantries. They also are quite distant from what I have seen, though I am unable to tell if that changes over time. Something you best discover yourself.”
 - “Aha, I guess I’ll have to go out and see it myself.”
 - “Yes, though I suggest you go to a more middle class region at first. We can’t have another fallout in the executive district like the interview. We have a bad reputation as it is and I don’t want to make it any worse.”
 - “Don’t worry Legate Sinclair. I brought my fancy pants with me and I’ll put them to good use.”
 O’Carr then stood up and shook Sinclair’s hand.
 - “Thank you for your time, Legate Sinclair. I hope you won’t die of a head ache from all the stress then.”
 - “Make that both of us. Best of luck, Mr. O’Carr, and remember, don’t do anything stupid.”
 O’Carr tipped his hat again and headed out. Foixon was just about to enter the room, but something odd was in the air. A smell he hadn’t tasted before. Unbeknownst to him it was O’Carr’s cigarillo.
 - “Legate Sinclair, I have the report on the opposition. Who was that man? And pardon me, why did he smell so strange?”
 - “That was Nick O’Carr, the famous Bounty Hunter. I don’t know what you are referring to, he didn’t smell that funny from what I could tell.”
 - "It was something subtle Sir … But anyways here’s your report. The opposition is … "
 The remainder of the day Sinclair was left to deal with bureaucracy and other matters, while O’Carr had the chance to show of his fancy Stoinian pants.

Daonlathas, Ryccian Empire
Imperial Senate

 The Stoinian Legate had been invited to watch the proceedings of the Senate in person. As a guest, he was granted his own pod so he could observe the debate, but he was not permitted to speak.
 As a gesture of good faith, Ferul Blesforn, the Chancellor of the Ryccian Empire and the Senator for his homeworld of Valetta, was present. Members of the Executive who were legislators usually did not have much time to attend regular debates, only showing up for those that were deemed crucial. He personally welcomed the Legate.
 - “Greetings to this most noble institution. Today, we witness an unprecedented moment in our country’s history. For the first time, a foreigner from a distant land is present in this chamber. We greet you, Legate Sinclair, and we wish for peace and amity to be the prevailing characteristics that define our relations”
 Many Senators applauded the Legate, either out of joy or basic respect. He was shown on the Senatorial screen on every pod. There were a few who refused to grant even this basic courtesy.
 - “Butcher! Your entire country is a detestable mob of barbarians and dim-witted beings who do not see the enlightened ways!”
 - “Senator Giorgi Kalenot of Sorventia-Carin, you have not been the right to speak!”
 That was the Speaker of the Imperial Senate, Marius Colenwater, who was the representative of the Core world of Juno. He was one of those “decadent” humans the Stoinians loathed, and thus he sported the usual flamboyant attire associated with his region.
 Senator Giorgi was a sacrificial lamb for the nationalist camp. As a Senator from a tiny world in the New Territories, his voice was irrelevant, and thus it did not matter if he was forced to leave the chamber. If he could cause a ruckus for those who opposed Sinclair, however, he would be rewarded in some way. Back-door dealings were the rule, not the norm.
 - “I stand to oppose this butcher and his criminal nation! Stoinia is a barbaric menace unfit for the enlightened Ryccian Empire!”
 A few Senators who still vocally opposed Sinclair clapped and cheered. A few others supportive of Sinclair booed the nationalists. Most Senators stayed silent, observing the spectacle.
 - “Under the Articles of Behaviour of the Imperial Senate, I order the Senator for Sorventia-Carin to exit this chamber, posthaste. This chair shall not tolerate any disorderly commotion of this magnitude”
 Ferul sent a message to Sinclair, asking him if he wished to respond. The Speaker would allow a brief retort if he so desired.
 - Sinclair was grateful for Ferul for this opportunity. Truly a historic meeting, for both nations. Sinclair saw the symbolism in the structure. All next to one another, united. He still was perplexed by all the repulsorlifts. He had seen them on Daonlathas’s surface, but not quite inside a building. However there was still unease as was shown by the rowdy Senator. Sinclair chose to step in on the matter.
 - “Dear Ryccian Senate. First of all I thank you for the kind invitation, I am truly bumbled by the gesture. However I cannot stand idly by when the honour of my country is malspoken. As the representative of Stoinia I will not stand silent when the dear Senator of Sorventia-Carin calls me a barbarian and dim-witted. Had you said that to me when I had just arrived here, we might have had a brawl. But I have shown a willingness to come and understand your “enlightened” ways, I thought part of it was being open minded or am I wrong? If so then I invite the Senator of Sorventia-Carin to come pay us a visit at the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower where we can have a civilized discussion. But I believe the very fact I stand here is proof enough that we Stoinians want to understand your ways.”
 - “Mr. Speaker, I don’t know if this is possible, but I request the honourable Senator of Sorventia-Carin be allowed to return as he is the elected speaker of his people and their voices should be heard. No matter the size of their planet or habitat. And on a sidenote Mr. Senator, I wouldn’t call a population that survived an 18 year war of extinction dim-witted. As a veteran, I feel quite offended. Perhaps you should take with your veterans more.”
 Sinclair than sat down again awaiting for the debate to take place.
 Many Senators clapped, either out of genuine respect or political convenience.
 - “Thank you, Mr. Sinclair. Unfortunately, the rules are there for a reason, and thus I must respectfully decline your request. Order must be maintained in the chamber, and I do not wish to encourage any more rabble rousers who may follow his example”
 - “We shall now proceed to debate the bill titled the Elemental Gas Tax Reduction Act of 1031 ADR”
 One of the debates of the day was a bill to reduce national taxes on elemental gases. In order to regulate how many gases could be extracted from an atmosphere, the government had introduced a tax on elemental gas exports. However, various sectors had complained regarding the tax, seeing it as expensive for their livelihoods.
 Senator B2 9684-SA9 from Droidia had introduced a bill to do just that. Several industrial worlds, Vurbentans from mono-livable gas systems and gas giant colonies supported the bill. However, other worlds, especially those who feared environmental degradation, opposed it.
 - “The Senate recognizes the Senator from the system of Droidia”
 Many Senators clapped in a somewhat thunderous applause. A few Senators laughed lightly, finding this droid a bit funny for how unnatural his speech was.
Calculation successful.
 Senator B2 9684-SA9 was more intelligent than these organics gave it credit for. It could have installed a voice that would sound natural for organics and spoken regularly, but it had calculated that, by using its droid voice and comically robotic jargon, it would attract attention. There was no flaw in its calculations, and thus it had achieved its goals.
 B2 9684-SA9 did not introduce this legislation out of the genuine care coming from its heart…or, well, whatever part of a droid’s consciousness counts as compassion. It was worried about its re-election prospects. Droidia was undergoing a slight economic recession, and thus B2 9684-SA9 had calculated that its constituents could be displeased with the current state of affairs. It needed something to boost its opinion rating at the polls, and this may well be it.
 - “The Senate recognizes the Senator from the system of Caltaria”
 Voxo Komaxie was a Vurbentan Senator from the Farlands. Caltaria was a rural world, and thus it was concerned over the environmental impacts of extracting gases from a planet’s atmosphere. Moreover, if government revenue decreased, then national agricultural subsidies could be cut as well, which was what she was really worrying about. As a wealthy landowner in her world, she was also worried personally.
 - “Thank you, Mr. Speaker”
 - “Whilst the concerns stated by my honourable colleague from Droidia are valid, the fact remains that we cannot recklessly extract gases from the atmospheres of planets. We must as a nation plan for the future, and this tax regulates the extraction to more manageable levels. We must take care of our individual worlds with the utmost concern, and we cannot rush ourselves into a frenzy extracting gases. In fact, I would say that the economic impact is mitigated by the fact that the government has more money to invest in the afflicted communities, thus reducing the minor, negative effects. Senators, I appeal for an environmental approach to this legislation, and it is thus I do not favour it”
 Other Senators applauded. The environmental concern was a façade, however, a cover for her true worry for agricultural subsidies. The debate raged on, with many Senators talking for or against nominally on policy, but secretly having their own interests in mind.
 Sinclair was quick to react and searched for the Elemental Gas Tax Reduction Act and quickly found out what it was all about.
 Why not get these gases from gas planets? Surely there would be no need to extract gas from a habitable planet. A planet’s ecosystem shouldn’t be too much tempered with and kept safe as much as possible. That was the Stoinian doctrine. However he still was quite confused by this act, unexperienced in politics, he would need the help of Foixon on this one. What the hell?!
 Sinclair then saw the droid Senator and like most Senators, his attention quickly went to this odd being.
 How the hell did this all happen? Sentient droids and give rights? Perhaps Ryccia was more of a loopy land than he initially thought. To Sinclair this whole situation seemed quite absurd. He definitely needed to research about all the species within the Ryccian Empire. And what? Environmental issues?
 Sinclair couldn’t quite comprehend what the actual contents of the debate were so he decided to focus on how it took place. Quite civilized, though he couldn’t quite make out what was a good argument and what wasn’t. Surely Foixon could help him on this one.
After the debate Sinclair thanked Ferul for the opportunity and went back to his tower. He was initially flooded with petty tasks but lat at night he asked for Foixon’s presence.
 - “Legate Sinclair, you asked for my presence?”
 - “Yes Foixon, have a seat.”
 Foixon than sat down and Sinclair couldn’t help but see some aristocratic influences here and there. Although small details, he was a bit bothered by it.
 - “Today I was invited to visit the Senate hearing about the Elemental Gas Tax Reduction Act. Frankly I don’t quite understand the situation. Why not mine gases on gas giants?”
 - “Ah I think I see the problem Sir. You see mining them on those planets is quite hard with all those pressures and corporations rather not pay for extra mining equipment to magnify their profit margins. Typical for a capitalistic society, politics and economics become intertwined.”
 Sinclair was dumbstruck. Was he that out of touch with the civilian world?
 - “I see, perhaps I just grew with a different view.”
 - “You don’t have politicians in the Stoinian Star Kingdom?”
 - “Of course yeah, but Andrei the Just made institutions to check politicians for corruption. Ever since then only the sincere politicians made up governments. Well for the most part … But even then laws prevent from interfering with a colonized planet’s atmosphere.”
 - “Quite fascinating. Perhaps you are too much entrenched in the ideal politician. Take a look for yourself. The Senator from Droidia is nearing his end term and Droidia had been in recess. It’s a last ditch effort to gain more support. As for the Senator of Caltaria, she is a large landowner on her planet and like the corporations she feels threatened. Does your corruption institution also take that in account?”
 Sinclair checked the holonet for Foixon’s information and found that he was indeed correct. Velpans sure are cunning.
 - “I believe so, though I haven’t been following Stoinian politics too much. Not really a need for it when you are in the military which doesn’t answer to it.”
 - “Possible a negative side effect from the split, but nonetheless this Daonlathas. If there is cutthroat politics in the Ryccian Empire it is here and it will stay here. So I suggest you get yourself acquainted with it.”
 - “Then let’s start with the rowdy Senator of Sorventia-Carin …”
 The rest of the night Foixon helped Sinclair better understand Ryccian politics. Perhaps it had become the most informative day of Sinclair’s Legate career yet.

1 Like

Gates of Heaven, Voluntaia
Ryccian Empire

 Stormtroopers were everywhere. Four AT-M6s patrolled the outskirts of the village. A Star Destroyer was near, as well as dozens of TIE fighters of different classes swarming overhead. Anti-aircraft cannons were primed and ready.
 If this was not the security detail for the Empire’s top military command, you would believe that this town was under harsh martial law.
 The Grand Generals, Grand Admirals, Chiefs of Imperial Security and other high-ranking military officers were arriving. Some were wealthy enough to descend into the resort’s spaceport with luxury yachts. Others made use of more standard ships, albeit they were still elegant for the common man.
 The higher-ups of the Strategic Security Command were from a myriad of species, albeit it would be erroneous to state that any one of them obtained their positions through racial quotas or nepotism. They had all earned it.
 This year’s retreat would have a special guest: Jeffrey David Sinclair, the Legate of the Stoinian Star Kingdom. Not only were they interested in what they had to say, the Ryccian military wanted to display a show of force. Unlike the politicians, who either trusted the Stoinians out of idealism or “trusted” them out of political convenience, the military was not convinced. They were deeply distrustful of the Stoinians, and, unbeknownst to Sinclair, this year’s retreat focused on formulating a strategy in the case of a war with them. Of course, Sinclair was not going to be made privy to these plans, as the nation’s military leaders would consider this without his presence.
 - “Is that war hog coming soon?”, said Grand General Rihard Altrec, a Vonmisian female.
 - “I have not a singular clue. I was informed that the Stoinian representative would be here around this hour”, said Grand General Livia Sorventia, a Human female.
 - “Klistek, klistek! Who had the bright idea to invite a potential war criminal here?! Why should we entertain a savage who may be lying through his teeth?!”
 - “Patience, Rihard, we must collect the maximum information possible from these Stoinians. We can not trust the words they deem suitable for us alone”
 Grand General Enric Pryde’s ship was descending into the spaceport. He had been delayed due to a prolonged meeting with one of his subordinates in a separate resort.
 - “Greetings. I presume the Stoinian representative hasn’t arrived thus far?”
 - “No, not at all. The bloodthirsty savage isn’t here. Do we have to wait here still?”
 - “I don’t know. Say, Ms. Altrec, can we talk regarding the new designs of the F11 blaster rifle?”
 - “Alright, might as well kill time. About the new cartridges…”

Orbit of Voluntaia
Ryccian Empire

 The Stoinian transport ship was being guarded by a military escort. A light cruiser, along with several TIE starfighters, protected the vessel.
 The Stoinian was coming.

Gates of Heaven, Voluntaia
Ryccian Empire

 Sinclair was happy to see the Ryccian military and meet their top staff. Perhaps he would find a common sense with them if their anti-racism wasn’t too drilled into them. But he wouldn’t blame them. As his transport left the orbit he saw the planet of Voluntaia. He couldn’t believe it. Was that Earth? How and when? He would have to look into this, but for now he had to give these officers a good look at the Stoinians. As his transport lowered into the atmosphere he saw the rather excessive amount of soldiers. It reminded him how the Stoinians would do the same as a show of force. Hell, the King even wanted to bring along his personal flagship! He chuckled at it, perhaps they had more in common with Stoinian military men than they would have thought.
 As the Pelican landed on the pad, Sinclair left it with two Royal Guardsmen behind him. He saw the group of officers and halted. He wanted to give them a Stoinian salute, but quickly revoked that idea. He just stood there with a broad chest and a high chin. He could see how some of the Ryccian officers looked with disdain, especially the xeno ones. However … No, it couldn’t be. There was a Csin in their military. How? Sinclair’s confusion was quite visible, but he needed to press on.
 - “Greeting officers of the Ryccian Armed Forces. It is my honour to be here amongst you and I am looking forward to see what the Ryccian Armed Forces have to show. From one soldier to another, I am pleased to see you all. Sadly I am not entirely aware of all your names.”
 Sinclair then proceeded to give each of them a firm handshake. However he would stop at the Csin and asked him more.
 - “I must say, I wasn’t expecting to see a Csin amongst the Ryccians. I see you did quite well for yourself given that you have achieved the rank of Grand Admiral. Sadly I must inform you that Stoinians do not have a Csin Grand Admiral, but the Csin have shown unprecedented efforts and it will be a mere time before one of them reaches that rank. But please, do tell me your name. Your full name that is. Unless I am mistaken about your species.”
 - “Of course”
 Unlike most of the high command, who were disgusted at the idea of hosting a war criminal, Grand Admiral Mitth’raw’nuruodo was not repulsed. Rather, he was curious.
 Thrawn had done his research well, informing himself of a race similar to the Chiss. Perhaps that is what this Stoinian referred to, these “Csin”. He studied whatever he could find on this faraway Star Kingdom’s history, and thus he had gathered that these humans were simple, humble individuals with a martial reputation preceding them. Moreover, he had deduced that the Csin were, in fact, related to his own Chiss in some way.
 - “Legate Sinclair, it is an honour to meet you. My name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo. You may refer to me as Thrawn”
 Unlike the others, Thrawn expected the firm handshake and reciprocated in kind.
 - “From what I am aware, yes, my species is the one you refer to. The Chiss, my race, are indeed the same beings as your Csin. I have no doubt that the truth shall reveal itself to us in due time”
 Truly a curious situation. If he knew the Csin well, Thrawn would be a few steps ahead of him. nonetheless out of all the people, he gave the most firm handshake. Sinclair could trust this Csin or that’s what his instincts told him.
 - “Well I sure am interested in finding out the truth. You seem to have a similar name as the only Csin High Admiral. Vrath’olum’nuruodo, though I believe I may have butchered his name. I thought we Terrans were the only brotherly species we have in common with Ryccia, but it seems I was wrong. But I believe it to be for the better.”
 Sinclair was sincere in his words and smiled at Thrawn. He turned to the rest.
 - “Now gentlemen, I believe it is time for me to settle in. Hopefully I get to chat with each and everyone of you.”
 Sinclair then went to his room carrying his own luggage and refusing any service from hotel personnel, stating “I didn’t become a Major General by being lazy.” As soon as he entered his room, he went out to see the balcony. He loved the view and the wind was just right as breezes flew against him. If this is ancient Terra, then God sure made his work. Sinclair was taken away by the view and enjoyed to relax for the rest of the day. Looking into the Chiss species. They might have more in common than us with the Ryccies.

Gates of Heaven, Voluntaia,
The next morning

 Sinclair woke up early at 6 am, preparing for his morning walk. It was a routine he couldn’t let go off. Even on relaxation he always did it. It was his way of starting the day, forged when he joined the Marine Corps. Some of the officers might look strange upon him, but it was the way of the Stoinian Officer. Be as fit as your men and lead them into the fire. Sinclair wasn’t going to give up on that value.
 He ran on the beach and was taken away by the sunrise glittering up the Star Destroyer. Slowly but steadily the resort became more and more alive and Sinclair would then join the Ryccian Officials after his morning run and breakfast. A run and bacons and eggs was the way Sinclair always started his day.
 The hall in where the officers were supposed to meet was the Chalet Hall of Excellence of the Chalet Hotel, one of the three hospitality buildings in the resort. As was expected, the hotel was decorated lavishly, as was expected of a luxurious building of its stature.
 The Grand Admirals were discussing a new prototype ship which could, in theory, destroy entire planets with its antimatter cannon. Designed for the horrific scenario that a foreign country had a weapon of such magnitude, it was the first of its kind, albeit justifying such a model would be difficult for the weak-willed politicians in the Senate and Congress.
 The Grand Generals were looking at a hologram of a new cannon for the nascent AT-M6 model of terror-walkers. According to the blueprints, it had more firing capacity and power than the existing model.
 As soon as they noticed Sinclair entering the room, however, they all turned off their holograms. This was classified as of yet, and besides the upper echelons of the Ryccian military did not wish for the Stoinians to obtain any detailed facts regarding their weaponry.
 - “Ah, greetings, Legate Sinclair”, said Grand General Livia Sorventia, “how do you do?”
 Some military officers were very martial, and thus opted to dress in their uniform for this meeting. Others, like the aristocratic Grand General Sorventia, decided to sport more casual clothing for this event. As she came from a wealthy family from the Core, she dressed in the flamboyant fashion that the Stoinians despised.
 Sinclair was wearing a sports outfit by the Stoinian Marine Corps with the letters SRMC written in large on his chest and a large ferocious dog on his back. To some Ryccians he might be seen as a joke, but Sinclair had just come from his morning run. He was determined not to make his official Legate’s uniform dirty. Sinclair truly looked out of place there.
 He was no fool however, he saw the holograms and he knew something was up, but he was hardly in a place to comment.
Who knows what these Ryccies are planning … Hell, I truly am out of place right now.
 He looked at the flamboyant Grand General Sorventia. He could already feel his stomach brewing inside. He kept professional however, even though some sweat was still dripping off of him.
 - “Oh I’m fine. Nothing better than a morning run if you ask me. I have to say, you have quite a view here. But I do have a question for you Grand General Sorventia, I wonder is your family in charge of the planet of Sorventia-Carin? I couldn’t help but notice the similarity in names. Of course no need to answer if it is improper of me.”
 - “Oh, no, our illustrious Sorventia family does not hold the planet of Sorventia-Carin as its personal property. If I recall accurately, the world of Sorventia-Carin owes its name to the fact that it was the Imperial Sorventia Holding Group and the Carin Mining Company that invested in the terraformation and mineral extraction industries of this historically recent colony”
 Livia Crystallia Petra Ignia Sorventia Nilium was a member of the financially titanic Sorventia family. Unlike those here, her wealth allowed her an easier route in her studies. She was quite odd for a top military official: she loved fashion and was accustomed to an aristocratic way of life. If the girlish, elite stereotype was to hold true in her life, she would have been anything other than a Grand General.
 And that’s because she was never meant to be an army officer in the first place.
 Her love for military strategy was an acquired taste. She had a boyfriend who wished to study as a commissioned army officer in her late teens, but he died before he could fulfill his dream. In honour of her first love, she took his place, enrolling in the Imperial Academy’s Army Academy. When she coursed her studies there, Livia grew fond of military strategy and was top of her class. As the Ryccian Empire only required intelligence from its officers, there was not a martial culture widespread amongst the officer corps. Sure, some officers, mainly those who had been promoted from NCOs, did hold true to this stereotype, but, especially for those who had only studied in military academies and had joined the military as COs, their job was to lead armies and fleets, not be like them. As long as they performed well, the Ryccian Empire could not care less about martial discipline nor about their personality, just that they operated effectively.
 - “Say, I am curious: you are a rather martial people, if I recall accurately. Do Stoinian military academies demand any physical or martial activities from their would-be officers?”
Ah, subtly getting some information. Well this still is within acceptable parameters. And by God does that woman need an uniform.
 Sinclair’s worries had now been slightly confirmed. They perhaps wanted to know more about the Stoinian military, but Sinclair was no fool.
 - “Perhaps I should take a deeper look to this Imperial Sorventia Holding Group. It might give me some insights the next time I am invited to the Senate.”
 Sinclair chuckles at the thought, but then realized what he was going to say next might even be more absurd than initially thought.
 - “I don’t think you, the Ryccian people, quite understand what we mean by martial. You see after the War at Home when we fended off the Mardakii, King Andrei I, our second King, refined Stoinian philosophy. Together with his son, Iulian I, they devised plans of the military training every Stoinian citizen in schools. Schools in our nation have an 8 hour per week program to maintain fitness and instil discipline, a sort of toned down boot camp if you will. They are taught basic military training including sword fighting, parkour running and gun shooting. This is to have a populace ready for war when other xenos threaten our way of life and if needed to be called upon. Instead of compulsory service, this alternative learns our populace to also keep themselves fit and disciplined for schools and future careers. That is why it might be surprising to you that obesity is an exceedingly rare instance within our nation.”
 He then looked at his SRMF shirt with the sweat on it.
 - “I believe the very fact I run every morning is a testament to our way of life.”
 The Ryccians might view this as intel, but this was Stoinian common sense by now.
 If anything it should show them not go to war against us. But if the Rascal Incident may not have taught them, I would now have to avoid it.
 - “How very interesting. So, it is true: they practically breathe belligerence”
 The Grand General was already thinking. In the event of a war, the martial Stoinian people would waver less in their fight and refuse to surrender, even if it is the tactically sound option. They would prove aggressive butchering commanders for certain.
 - “How very intriguing. You are quite the active people for certain. I presume your soldiers are quite the fearless warriors in their duty, huh?”
 - "I will take it as a compliment, being called active. However fearless isn’t quite the term I would use to describe my time during the Velutarian War. And God forbid what our ancestors felt when the Mardakii invaded. Speaking as a man from the front, we aren’t fearless. We feared for our families all the time in those days. Or your comrades … "
 Sinclair took a deep breath as he struggled with uttering those lasts words.
 - “We may act in a fearless manner, but we have a rather stoic philosophy taught to us. Made by the Philosopher-King himself, to help us cope with everyday life struggles. It proved exceptionally helpful in those days. I fear we may not be quite the same as your fabled Mandalorians.”
 He then pondered a few moments as he saw the Ryccian officers expressions. They didn’t seem quite that understanding. He knew he felt different because he was an NCO first, but even Stoinian High Command knew Sinclair’s feeling. Something that officer training clearly emphasized: being connected with your troops. Didn’t these officers know that feeling?
 - “I am sure you are familiar with the feeling. I don’t believe you would have made it to this rank by not knowing such things.”
 Sinclair wanted to see how the Ryccians would react to such a comment. Were they truly detached?
 - “He is as inquisitive as I am. Very well, I shall answer with the truth”
 - “I cannot say that I have fired a shot in battle. Whilst I consider the lives of the soldiers under my command, I have never been amongst them. I graduated as a Commander-Lieutenant in the Imperial Army, and thus I have never been one of the rank-and-file”
What? Never fired a shot in battle? How could they expect to gain respect from their troops if they themselves are barely capable of executing it? Damn these decadent bastards, even their military is infected by it.
 Sinclair’s NCO spirit fired up. He couldn’t help but think and frown. However he was a Legate now. He was sent here by the King to befriend the Ryccians. Not judge them by their culture, but adapt and understand it. To form a bridge and that is what he should do.
 - “I would be lying if I said I don’t think that’s odd. Perhaps a younger version of myself would even scorn you for it. But … times have changed. I am here to help us better understand you as a Legate. Not to judge you and I appreciate the honesty Grand General.”
 - “Of course. These hostile peoples believe the only way to lead armies for your country is to be as bellicose as the troops are”
 - “Leading large forces into battle requires intelligence. It is our view that it does not matter where that talent comes from, whether it is from a bright spark from the rank-and-file or from someone who has proven themselves academically adept for leadership”
 Sinclair’s NCO side started to boil again, but he was quick to cool it down. He remembered that he was a Legate and something better was expected of him.
 - “I see we are at a disagreement. Perhaps the old NCO in me is clouding my judgement over your style. While we ourselves have Officer Academies, it is strongly encouraged to have a bond with your troops. When you will be sending men to die, they need to know they can trust you and only then will they truly fight until their last breath. Mere academic strategy doesn’t grant success in itself, only a trial by fire is the real proof.”
 He loosened up a bit. He needed to change the subject, it was starting to feel like an interrogation rather than a vacation.
Clearly they don’t quite get what makes a good interrogation.
 - “Forgive me, but may I sit down? I believe the main goal of my vacation was to relax after all. The running does start to wear you down after a certain age.”
 - “Oh, but of course! Please, take a seat, Legate Sinclair, enjoy the tea and scones arrayed on the main table”
 The other commanders fraternized amongst themselves. Grand Admiral Goxo Natoxa approached. He was a Vurbentan who had risen from the NCOs, and thus had sympathies for Sinclair’s situation. Even if they demonstrated their mettle by their leadership, these academic officers could be quite stiff at times.
 - “Hello! Mind if I sit? Grand Admiral Goxo Natoxa’s the name, nice to meet you!”
 The Vurbentans were known to be a friendly race, greeting everyone they met cheerfully. Thus, for Goxo, this amity was normal.
 - “I must say, I find your way of thinking agreeable. When one has risen from the lower ranks, you gain an appreciation for the beings under your command. After all, you were one of 'em, why would you stab your mates in the back?”
 Goxo was suspicious like the rest of the high command, but, as he found Sinclair to be similar to him in perspective, his view of this Stoinian was more favourable than the others. Time will tell all soon.
This xeno certainly seems friendlier than most Ryccian Terrans. Then again that might not be the hardest achievement in these parts.
 - “Well Ryccia can certainly surprise Stoinians. So you started as an enlisted crewmen on a ship then? Did you see any combat action at all?”
 - Sinclair was curious if the grunts of the army had in fact any real fighting blood. He hoped so, but still naval personnel have a different view than the actual army or marine grunts. Nonetheless an insight in the Ryccian Navy could prove useful nonetheless
 - “Yes, I’ve been on several ships fighting pirates, criminals and the like. Heck, there was this time when I was stationed in a light cruiser and a large pirate gang took over our ship and took the crew hostage. Those who resisted, including me, secretly organized and blasted them dead, they had it coming!”
 - “The Empire doesn’t see much large-scale conflict, though, so that hostage situation is real odd for someone in the force. A war on a wide scale has not happened in over a thousand years! This country’s real peaceful like that”
 Goxo was no fool. He was hinting to the Legate that he should respect those who were not forged from battle because, in the Empire, there were no large-scale battles to be fought, and thus the Empire did not need to instill a martial culture into its officer corps. Sure, he was friendly, but he was not naïve.
 Sinclair listened carefully and was quite cheerful.
 - “Well it’s a good sign that some of you still have real combat experience. Though I really shouldn’t indulge on my war stories. Certainly not something to discuss on a live interview.”
 Sinclair chuckled on that thought.
 - “Though take it from a veteran. Don’t go eagerly into a war after a long time of peace, it isn’t something lightly. To see your comrades being cut to pieces… It isn’t pretty and not something to seek out. The lives of your friends are more precious than any glory or medal you earn in these wars.”
 Sinclair knew something fishy was going on here. The Ryccians already knew the side of the Stoinians who will fanatically defend their land, but he wanted to make it clear that fighting any war came at a cost. Something perhaps those stuck up with only strategy as an important aspect should take into consideration. For without that bond, military command would crumble in the Ryccian situation either by own mutinies or civilian pressure. Something the Stoinian military wasn’t quite so bound to.
 - “I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sure your soldiers were brave and fought with honour until the very end. The life of every being is precious, this we very much know. Heck, it’s one of the first lessons they teach us at the academy! People normally won’t kill or let others die for no reason, I’m sure of that. Whether we’re in a command center or in the trenches, we’re all looking to defend our country, no matter our background, no?”

 In another table next to the Legate, the remaining Grand Admirals sat and displayed a hologram of the new Star Annihilator. Its design was not optimal, but, as the years pass, this new type of weapon could be refined and improved.
 The Star Annihilator’s axial cannon had the capibility of destroying a world, bombarding it with energy and cracking it to a trillion pieces. In order to avoid the Legate Sinclair from understanding the true nature of this new weapon, they spoke in Velpan. Moreover, all the text in the hologram was also in Velpan.
 - “Fellow officers”, said Rae Sloane, “here we have the guaranteur of the Empire’s survival. Should a foreign power have a world-destroying device, we are now ready to respond”
 - “An impressive weapon”, said Grand Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin, “Project Stardust shall prove a mighty weapon in our arsenal”
 - “Director Krennic’s report was enlightening: Entity X-4 destroyed a Star Destroyer with only one percent of its power. The weapon should be fully operational and ready to deploy in a few weeks. The problem is where we shall send it to. A weapon of this magnitude must be kept somewhere safe”
 - “I suggest sending it to Atolon, a frontier system in the region of Chile where we have a naval base”, said Sloane, “The Draconians are an enigmatic nation to us, but from what we know of them, they have been around for longer than we have. We must guard ourselves against a nation of the stature as the Draconians by possessing the ability of a quick strike”
 - “I deem it unwise, Mrs. Sloane”, said Grand Admiral Nin Wei, “Should the Draconians figure out the location of our weapon, they shall attack in full force in case of a war. It is more optimal to deploy the Star Annihilator in the interior of the Empire, most preferably in a sparsely-populated system. Moreover, I disagree with your assessment: the Elans, a civilization of which we have only have a few records, are said to be dystopian and bellicose in nature. It is them whom we should protect our Empire against, for they are a likely candidate to be an aggressor”
 - “We cannot be on the defense from the outset, we must be able to strike as soon as possible against the enemy and strike brutally if necessary. The Star Annihilator must be combat-ready!”
 The discussion continued over the Star Annihilator. Its military importance was strategically crucial, and thus the best option must be found.
 - “Well I can agree on that. Defending one’s own country is a worthy cause nearly all the time. It seems that both our academies have at least one lesson in common then.”
 Sinclair chuckled as he saw the other officials talk about the structure in the holoprojectors. Sinclair was getting used to them, but he was still somewhat amazed by the whole technology behind it. He really couldn’t figure out what they were talking about, only that it was something important for the military. He wasn’t here to spy on them, but he couldn’t help but notice the focus they had in their conversation.
 - “I take it you have taken some homework with you on vacation?”
 - “Of course! Us higher-ups are always busy busy busy! As you can see, they’re talking in Velpan as that is a top-secret project, so I can’t tell you much about it. What I can say is that it’s a new type of ship, but your eyes can already see that, ha ha!”
 - “Ah, it’s now time for the flight simulation of a classified starfighter. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to leave. Maybe you can enjoy some skiing or go to a café? We’ll call you when it’s over. Don’t worry, this is just procedure. It’s not just you, the hospitality staff will need to leave too”
 Sinclair glared at the holograms for a moment. Just what the hell could that be? Stoinians surely wouldn’t show such things to guest in the slightest chance. He made a note to himself, perhaps Foixon could help him with a few lessons in Velpan.
 - “Well then, I’ll leave you to it. Any recommendations for a café to visit?”
 The ambassador went off for some hours, enjoying the amenities the resort had to offer. However, he may have (or not) realized that it was all a deception. There was no starfighter simulation scheduled. It was all a ploy to intimidate the Stoinian envoy in a subtle manner, and if not, then see how much in regards to military technology he could grasp at a glance. The topic of discussion remained the Stoinians, which were the new mystery the high command had to contend with.
 - “It appears our guest had no discernible reaction to the hologram. Rather, he seemed fascinated by it”, said Tarkin.
 - “I don’t think the Stoinians have the advanced holographic tech we do, Tarkin. The guy’s brave alright, and the rumors of those politicians look spot on. He talks like one of those Mandalorian honorbound warriors. I’ve met a lot of military personnel over my years at the deck, and the Mandos I’ve met were very similar to him, constantly speaking in martial lingo and so on”, said Goxo.
 - “The Stoinians shall not reveal their cards to us when asked. Based on what we could perceive, I believe it is highly likely that they have no world-destroying technologies akin to the ones we have developed, or at the very least he has no access to such information. He did seem perplexed by the hologram”, said Sloane.
 - “This is only conjecture. However, it is adequate to begin forging an image of their military capibilities with whatever information we can obtain as of this time. To commence any spying operations now would be premature, as we do not understand the Stoinian culture sufficiently enough for our agents to blend in and complete their tasks in an efficient manner. We must plan for the occasion, as I am certain they shall attempt to do the same to the Empire someday. Whatever tendencies we possess for naïvete cannot be entertained”, said Tarkin.
 - “Have you analyzed the sweat that he was drenched under at the time of his arrival? I nearly covered my nose when I took notice of the foul odor. These Stoinians are perplexing, and it appears they have no eye for formality. An Imperial Prince who covertly went to a vacation in the Stoinian capital described the atmosphere to me. Everything and everyone were pedestrian in nature and in appearance-”, said Ms. Sorventia.
 - “Pray tell, General, what does your aristocratic tirade have to do with the discussion at hand?”, said Wei.
 - “I am making a point, Lady Wei. These Stoinians must be extremely pedestrian, and thus they think and act accordingly. Their elites abstain from extravagant luxury and are unnaturally compassionate to their subjects. Whether this is a genuine way of life or an act of deceit to fool their people is as of yet uncertain to me. If their aristocrats are indeed as selfless and as ascetic as has been rumoured, one can expect a high degree of camaraderie and communalism across their ranks, and they must be incredibly kind to their soldiers in battle. These attributes, under the correct circumstances, can become flaws. Say, for example, that a Stoinian general dares not leave the wounded behind due to their excessive compassion, even when it is necessary. An effective commander of ours shall be perceptive, exploiting the enemy’s sense of duty and striking whenever applicable”
 - “You’re quite scary with that brain of yours thinking such ruthlessness, General. That’s maybe even illegal”, said Goxo.
 - “Admiral, it is neither malice nor compassion which motivate me my decisions in military engagements. It is the pragmatic conclusions I come to. If our Empire must be merciless to its enemies in order to achieve victory, so be it”
 - “The Stoinian ambassador has returned, m’lords”, said one of the staff.
 The ambassador returned in the afternoon. Discussion had ceased, and a decoy TIE fighter hologram was turned on. The admirals quickly pretended to frantically shut the hologram off in order to keep up this farce.
 Tarkin approached, speaking to the Legate.
 - “Greetings, Legate Sinclair. We are pleased to receive you once more. I hope your trip around the town was pleasant to you?”

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 Sinlcair drank some Vurbentan tea as he wanted to try out the beverages from different species. He had plenty of time to think for himself while enjoying the sweet tea. The idea of being poisoned crossed his mind, but quickly shrugged it off. That certainly would have been a bad play for the Ryccians. Then he started thinking, somehow it didn’t quite add up to him. It seemed that there was a larger military presence than even the capital of Daonlathas. It would likely be a show of force. He chuckled for a moment, for he knew his people would likely do the same. For Christ sake, they did exquisite manoeuvres when the King first landed. He knew something wasn’t right about the whole ordeal, but he wasn’t certain just yet. He owuld however try something.
 Before returning to the Ryccian Military Staff he switched to his Legate dress uniform after taking a fresh shower. With all the ribbons he earned on it, even a pin with the Star of Reach. His uniform was put to the utmost perfection. No pleats were visible and with shining boots Sinclair left his quarters to meet them again. They had met the Marine in him, now they were going to meet the Legate.

 As he walked into the room he did with utter precision. Every step perfectly in cadence to the drums of war he had heard so many times. With an upright posture and his left hand on his ceremonial sword, while his right armed swayed perfectly with every step. As he stopped, he did a small click with his heels. His instincts told him to do a military salute, but he refrained from it as it would shatter any and all progress made. He spoke as he analysed their reactions if there were to come any.
 - “Quite indeed Grand Admiral Tarkin. Before I forget, Grand Admiral Goxo Natoxa, I must say your Vurbentan tea is quite an enjoyable surprise. I’ll be sure to try it from time to time. As for the town is was truly beautiful, though it also quite felt like it was under martial law. If I hadn’t known any better I would fear the Ryccian Empire wouldn’t be a safe place to live in, but then I am again reassured by the company of the best Officers within your Empire. So really no need to fear, even though some of the shopkeepers didn’t seem too comfortable with all the military presence. Say do you hold marches within your Empire where you show off the armed forces? Or would that be associated with the Empire of Old?”
 This was a sudden change. General Sorventia, in her aristocratic derision, was relieved that the Legate’s brain had some sense left in it. The other military officers simply analyzed the attire. It was quite formal indeed from a martial point of view, and his behaviour even more so. This Legate alone is enough evidence to prove that the Stoinians truly value their military above most other institutions. Whilst some did not care much for it and merely sought to understand their martial culture in order to make a sound assessment, those among the high command that held militarist views lamented the fact that the Ryccian armed forces was not as cherished as the Stoinian one was.
 - “I’m so glad you like my species’ cuisine. Kalix leaves give it that rich flavor, and they came from cold Vurbenta itself. For you it might be strange, but the Kalix leaves are grown in cold conditions since the planet my race came from is colder than the average for a human. I hear that a rare arctic variety gives the tea a chilling taste, but that kind of Kalix leaf is expensive because most harvests fail in the arctic, so only the rich drink that kind. If you want, I can send your assistant the details about this tea and inform him of any good suppliers I know so he can take care of importing the best Kalix leaves to Daonlathas. Although, I suppose you’re fine drinking the regular variety they sell at the capital’s shops since, and I’m sorry if I offend for misinterpreting your people, you Stoinians abstain from that kind of luxurious extravagance”
 - “About the military presence, well, that’s to be expected. The town’s in this state because we need a high level of security for our retreat, lots of top-secret military stuff needs to be protected and so on. Of course, we pay our dues so the townsfolk don’t lose out on good tourist revenue. After all, we’re the only guests, so we might as well be worth every credit, ha!”
 - “Hmm…military parades…we haven’t held any of those at a national level in a long, long time. Sure, military academies have their own mini-marches and whatnot, but we haven’t held a big one in over 470 years! The pacifist politicians and those who wanted reconciliation after the revolution didn’t like ‘em to begin with, and since the parades in the New Empire celebrated the victory of the democrats, those folks who still liked the Old Empire a millenia ago hated them to guts. Of course, they eventually disappeared over the centuries, but, as our current era of peace, liberty and prosperity cemented itself, the people lost interest in the spectacles. The pacifists started to hate them even more as they hate all overtly martial displays of force and began to call for the big parades to end since they ‘celebrated the spilling of blood’ or something to that effect. The government kept cuttin’ and cuttin’ their budgets until the military decided it was no longer worth the hassle and discontinued the bigger events for Liberty Day. Heck, in the last years of the Liberty Day Parades, the pacifist Chancellors just refused to go! The only ‘military parades’ we celebrate are mostly local and small these days. Well, if the people don’t want to turn in their starscreens for a big parade, we aren’t going to waste our time organizing 'em”
 - “Ryccians don’t love the military as much as they used to. There hasn’t been any war for over a millenia, so the people are used to peace and generally don’t care to the extent you Stoinians do for your military. Even many militarists are starting to hate any martial displays of power since the mainstream militarist politicians see us as a defense force, not something to glorify and take a certain martial pride in. I even hear from some of my politician friends that the Chancellor’s in hot water with some diehard idealists in his coalition for that parade he threw for your King out of courtesy and goodwill. But hey, if we served for personal glory and not to protect the Empire, our ranks would be empty, ha!”
 - “None taken Grand Admiral Natoxa, I will would be glad to try your tea with Kalix leaves. Feel free to share your supplier with my assistant, if I am to better understand your culture, knowing the luxurious aspects won’t hurt. Yes, you are quite correct most Stoinians abstain from luxurious extravaganza, though the Tozorian Corridor might be close to an exception to that rule. Though I understand that smoking isn’t much loved by the Ryccians people. It would appear that we would have different interpretations on luxurious, but that makes the universe more interesting, does it not?”
 - “Though our military parades would seem like extravaganza to you. Three large parades are held per year on King’s Day, Victory Day and MacArthur’s Day. Those are indeed sights to behold when our fleets enter the atmosphere as part of the parade while aircraft twirl in the sky as our troops march. Quite a logistical nightmare, but it keeps us up to date for when we need to. Quite a shame that no interest is shown in the forces that keep the people safe. To us it is a constant reminder of what our ancestors had to endure and that we won’t tolerate it ever again. As for your politicians, it is quite unfortunate. For in our parts of the sector one thing is clear. ‘Peace through force’, one cannot have peace if he isn’t prepared for war. But I imagine it would have different connotations for them. A people should be thankful of the sacrifices the military personnel make, not dismissive. Ah I see I am bragging again, please forgive my intrusion.”
 The Legate smiled a bit when hearing of the Chancellor’s parade.
 - “Well you can tell your politician friends that the Chancellor’s actions were the right one. For if he didn’t, I perhaps would not stand here and have the formal diplomatic relations our nations enjoy as of now. Surely these idealists must come to understand that the rest of the sector may not share the same ideals as they. But I guess that all depends on how open you wish to be to the rest of the sector. If your people so wish to be left alone with their idealism then so be it, but then they shouldn’t feel left out if anything happens in the sector.”
 - “Well, times change, and so do the people. After the revolution, sentiments like that slowly faded away. I hope they show the same appreciation you Stoinians give to your military when we’re faced with a great crisis, although I hope that never happens. The peace we have know that has endured for more than a millenia is always better than a war where millions of our own people are killed. You don’t offend, Legate. In fact, I think you’ll find that some of my colleagues here share some of your Stoinian ideals, or theirs are similar to yours. When you serve in the military, you’re biased and you feel proud of it, so some folks like you who praise the armed forces are bound to pop up in our ranks”
 - “I loved the parade. It was small, but it was a great show of martial pride, something that’s rare nowadays. Then again, I’m biased because I’m a high official. Also, many politicians understand that the Empire’s ideals are not the only ones out there in this neck of the woods, and thus they’re willing to compromise, or they’ll demonize you for cheap political points. But there’ll always be some passionate folks that will never let their ideals die, even when faced with a scenario where one has to act outside their moral framework for the greater good. They’ll always think of you as misguided and just plain wrong, but we can’t do much about those nutcrackers other than figure out how to get around them, eh?”
 - “Times indeed change. I certainly hope the Ryccian military will have its support should the need arise. I certainly hope we Stoinians can live long enough to endure such a long peace, though our experience has been more troublesome than yours I imagine. You mention a war of millions, be glad you haven’t started speaking of billions. Pray you never have to. That is a fate too gruesome for any civilized species. A devastation you do not wish to be part of. Well I am glad we share some common values, I have been trying to figure those out back on Daonlathas. But in time I hope to understand them better.”
 Sinclair thought to himself if he heard it right. ‘Some of my colleagues’, so not all of them? This question appalled Sinclair, but he reminded himself of some of the elitism in Ryccia.
 - “Perhaps those of you who wish can come visit Casaria during one of those days when we hold marches. Perhaps you can even learn a thing or two from us on the matter. Though perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. I won’t deny our martial pride, I would even be considered crazy if I did. It even helped me stay alive at times. As for politics, I hope I am doing well. I must tell some of your Ryccian factions don’t make it quite that easy, but I think I wouldn’t have it any other way. A little challenge makes life interesting. As for the idealists, I only hope we have enough room to manoeuvre with them.”
 - “Ha, it’s never easy dealin’ with the politicians. They always criticize too much when we introduce a new ship design or some other new weapon for political points. I’ll tell you this: I’d love to see your parades in person. I’ve never seen such a big spectacle like that in my life, and I’m a high official! Although, I don’t know how your more xenophobic citizens will see it. We don’t want to cause trouble by provoking unwanted discord in your country”
 - “If the Treecuu President has been allowed on the King’s balcony, I think we can tolerate high ranking Ryccian Commanders at our parades. I would suggest to come at Victory Day on Stoinia. Our largest parade is held there, besides Stoinia itself is likely the most receptive place who will understand the need of diplomacy. Whatever the radical elements will say, visiting will be seen as a form of respect by itself. That mere fact will prove that you aren’t a barbaric race and the radicals will be forced to accept you as equals. Dear me, it seems I am beginning to get the hang of politics.”
 - “I’ll look at my calendar to save the date. It’ll be an honor to go. I’ll be damned in this life if I can’t see a grand parade in person when I have the chance, even if it’s not from my country, ha! I can guarantee that I’m not a barbarian. In our country, we believe a barbarian is defined by the ideals they hold, not the genetics they were born with. You can be a physically horrific being and we’ll respect you as one of our own if you’re smart. On the other hand, if you’re the most attractive and physically flawless being in the universe but you embrace primitive and barbaric beliefs, no sane Ryccian could ever accept you”
 - “For your benefit as a diplomat, allow me to comment on how Ryccians typically see you. There are three types of people you’ll come across: some think that you’re the worst kind of barbarian there is: xenophobic genociders that deserve no respect. You’ll find that the nationalists and the ultrapacifists hate you for it. Others see you as barbarians not because you chose to, but because the blood-filled history you lived through transformed your society in order to adapt to your surroundings. These folks think that your kind needs enlightenment from our country so you don’t repeat the same mistakes the Old Empire did, since the Stoinian Kingdom and the Early Old Empire actually have a similar origin story. They also see you as going into an imperialistic conquest spree in the future if you’re not ‘educated’. Some internationalists are in this camp, believing that we have to ‘civilize’ this sector as the ‘only light in a sea of darkness’ or so they put it, but isolationists can think like this too”
 - “Finally, another group shares the belief that you were forced to be the way that you are by your tragic history, but they refuse to label you as barbarians. They think that, through an exchange of ideas between nations, we can learn from each other and further the peace in the sector. They won’t compromise on the xenophobia, but they’ll tolerate you and they’ll accept your martial culture as valid, even if they don’t like it personally. It’s rare, if not impossible to find someone who will embrace the Stoinian way in this corner of the sector, but it is what it is. Which one am I? I’ll leave that one for you to decide”
 - Regardless, getting a hang on politics is good. The more you can sweettalk your way around the pacifists and the opportunists from obstructing the military’s work, the better"
v- “Victory day is on the 9th of May, I’ll be sure to send over the date so we can pinpoint it in your calendar. I don’t think you will regret it, though I suspect I won’t be able to join you as I will likely have duties back on Daonlathas. Perhaps that way Blood 'n Guts will see you in a more positive light, though I highly doubt he will change his mind. He is quite stubborn when it comes to such matters.”
 Sinclair chuckled for a second on the thought of having Chekov in his place here. It would indeed have been quite a sight.
 - “Well when it comes to defining barbarians we Stoinians are somewhere in between. But holding barbaric ideals is the more significant factor, perhaps our location in the sector was unfortunate being surrounded by foul species. Then again you speak of enlightenment, it is also part of our society in a way, especially that ‘only light in a sea of darkness’. Although we don’t actively seek to culturally change species, but eliminate those who mean us and others harm. In that way the Stoinian Order is less idealist and more focusing on realpolitik. Our corner of the sector didn’t leave us much room for idealism. We’re just glad we have come to see civilized species for once, but it will take some time for our people to adjust to it. The more cultural exchange there is between our nations, the easier it will become. As for your fourth group of Ryccians, I can only imagine the Mandalorians fitting that category. Though I think some of our xenophobia will be too much for them.”
 - “This is a society where being a racist is character suicide. It can get your business boycotted, get you fired, socially isolated from society, what have you. Trust me, it’s too much, even for those who share your philosophy around these parts. There’s a reason even some militarists that share your ideals hate your guts: the social stigma surroundin’ racism is that strong here, and I’m sorry that I offend, but I’m glad it’s that way. Of course, you may have a different opinion on that, but it is what it is. Returnin’ to the days of the Old Empire where beings like me could get shot for criticizin’ a human governor from the Core, where racism was rampant and everythin’ was tyranny…our ancestors sure tolerated a lot. I’m surprised the late Empress Alice of that time managed to change our society from all that hate between the various races and social classes that had built up over the millenia! That woman from a millenia ago is like a god around these parts for all the good she did, keepin’ the country together, forging a new national identity and all that. Read her story when you get a chance so you don’t get caught insultin’ her, or there’ll be hell to pay with those politicians and with many Ryccians. Insultin’ her of all national heroes would be unforgivable, and they’ll want your head on a smooth sapphire plater for it, ha ha ha!”
 - “Duly noted, though I believe our own King has been insulted in such a way. I would advise against it if any of you intend to do so. The King is in some parts seen as nearly a God-King since his leadership at the end of the Velutarian War. I was there at the butchering, the choice such a young man made is nothing short of tremendous at that age. Same goes for MacArthur, it is thanks to him that our military can thank its autonomy. I am sure Empress Alice and King Andrei would have some similarities since our society also changed since then. Though I imagine drawing parallels between the two would also result in your people wanting my head on a smooth sapphire plater as you so elegantly put it. There are however elements within our culture which are unthinkable by your society, we know we are walking a very thin line. We don’t intend to break it so easily, we have known enough enemies already. I certainly hope we can begin to an era of peace like your own.”
 - “I’m sure our diplomats won’t insult your King if they want their jobs. The politicians will for cheap points or because they genuinely hate your guts, but diplomats - and military officers with any sense of honor and respect - should be above that nonsense. If our ambassador breaks some unforgivable lines, then she’s a fool that won’t last long, or so I think that to be the case. But you’re half-right: if you compare your King to the legendary Empress, the Founder of the New Empire, they won’t want your head on a sapphire plate, they’ll want your body in a table made out of detoxified rhenium, ha ha!”
 Sinclair grinned at the thought. Perhaps this was the first time he was confronted with the idea of a Terran being used a the basis of consumer goods. Rather than fear the idea, he viewed it is a part of the world. One which his ancestors had lived, one which he would fight against until his last breath.
 - “Well a part of me would like to see them try. They can’t stomach to skin a deer, let alone a fellow sapient. I guess there would be such a thing as a feral Ryccian after all…”
 He let a small moment of silence, but quickly diverted to another subject.
 - “Oh well, perhaps I am playing a little too much with your figurative speech. I’m sure your diplomats would have formed quite a view on how to approach us by now. I’m sure it will all work out eventually.”
 - “They have to, it’s their job to figure that out. They have soft tongues, so they have to”
 It was becoming increasingly clear from the conversations they had with the Legate that the Stoinians were not a significant threat to the Ryccian Empire nor to its survival. Goxo would try to probe indirectly to see how technologically advanced they truly were.
 - “Say, from what I’m gatherin’ here, you Stoinians are very much dedicated on your families. Can I see a picture of yours? My children are all grown up, but you can still see 'em if you want”
 Goxo appeared friendly, and that certainly was one of his intentions. However, there was also another motivating factor: could it be true that these Stoinians have no holographic technologies to speak of? If they have, he would provide a hologram of his family or something of the sort.
 Sinclair saw through the Vurbentans question and suspected it was a test to see if the Stoinians had holograms. As of now they hadn’t, but scientist and engineers were getting closer to reverse engineer Velutarian holographic tech. For now he would lead the Ryccians into a false lead with them holding very little chance of finding any information on such matters. He smiled as he brought up a photo of his family from his vest. It was an archaic photo for the Ryccians, but to Sinclair it was real and felt real. He showed them his picture with his family just before he set out to his mission here.
 - “Well that is true. We have a saying in Stoinia: “A state that puts itself above family, deserves no concurrence from its populace.” Strong family bonds is what brought us here, without them we would have stayed only on our capital planet and not be with the numbers we are today. Here on the picture you can see my wife, Rebecca. Still as stunning since the first day I met her. Here you have our eight children. My oldest son is David and as you can see from the uniform he followed my footsteps and is studying at East Point. My second eldest son, Paul, just entered there as well. Margaret is at Medical School on Louisiana Planetary University for about two years now. Then you have the little rascals that live on Daonlathas with me. The small twins, John and Erin, Lily, Robert and William. They are slowly getting to where your children are right now Grand Admiral Goxo. Just a little over a decade and then finally it can be quiet in my house.”
 Sinclair smiled as he presented his family. He knew eight children would be a lot for the Ryccians, but it was a good average of what most Stoinian families had. Perhaps the Ryccians will see this too as a form of barbarity and not civilized enough, but if they so did, then they would know what an angry Stoinian father would look like.
Was that…film? Goxo had only seen this type of material in museums and in the photos left by his distant ancestors. So, the rumours were true. These Stoinians were far behind in technology.
 - Some military officers were reminded of their families, and thus sympathized with Sinclair. A few, including the aristocratic Sorventia, were perplexed. Eight children? How does that make any sense whatsoever? How in the stars do they care for them all?
 More importantly, however, the suspicions of the high command were confirmed: the Stoinians were indeed as new as they said, and thus their technology was primitive. Perhaps they were true to their word and could be trusted…
 - “Well, that’s quite the large family you have there. That must be a loud and active household to come home to every day. We don’t see that often around these parts, so that’s interesting to hear”
 The Legate and the Ryccian high command continued to speak. He had left a good impression on them. Perhaps these barbarians could be trusted to keep their word…
 The Legate was permitted to stay in the resort for the remainder of the military conference, enjoying the various amenities it had to offer. He even got to socialize more with some officials. In that hotel, however, chatter continued, and it was, to both Sinclair’s fortune and misfortune, positive. As of now, the Ryccian top brass had determined that the Stoinians were of little concern, at least for the immediate future. Their martial and communal way of life proved to be interesting, and it seemed as if they had a high degree of honour. All signs had shown that they were technologically primitive, and thus their fears decreased somewhat.
 Further investigation would be required, whether it was public or covert.

1 Like

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
Two days after the Kontauri Integration Act

 Sinclair had been posted for about 1 month and had grown to quite fond of his post on Daonlathas. He began to tolerate the xenos more and more, especially Foixon Perushan. His Ryccian Advisor proved to be very insightful and helped him to scan the political landscape in Ryccia and even in the Stoinian Star Kingdom. Now he had some paperwork to do concerning some Stoinian businesses who wanted to expand within the Ambassadorial Tower. He approved a tourism firm and an artisan shop for jewellery. It was then that he was interrupted by a Csin clerk who had news for him. The door chimed as the Csin stood outside.
 - “Come in.”
 The Csin clerk was Chaff’aran’ugheni or just Faranu as he had grown accustomed to the Stoinians using his short name. He wore a similar uniform to the Legate, but without the many ribbons.
 - “Legate, I have some news for you.”
 - “Well then Faranu, bring me some good fortune.”
 Faranu raised an eyebrow. The Terrans sure had many figures of speech…
 - “You’ve been promoted to High Legate, Sir. As multiple embassies will be build over the years, we’ll need seniority within the many legates. Meaning that you will be the highest ranking diplomatic official in the Ryccian Empire for the Stoinian Star Kingdom. I believe congratulations are in order.”
 Sinclair was surprised. If anything he suspected to be berated to do his job better. Nonetheless he was happy, but didn’t show. Instead he focused on his paperwork.
 - “Also the recent annexation of the Kontauri has been successful and the Kontauri Integration Act has been passed. All Kontauri males have been granted full citizenship and free citizens of the Stoinian Star Kingdom.”
 This news was new to him. He had never heard of the Kontauri before and feared that the Star Kingdom was annexing planets left and right now. But that wouldn’t explain why they were given citizenship. Just what on holy Terra was happening?
 - “Thank you, Faranu. I’ll have to clear these things with the Ministry of Foreign Relations on what exactly happened. This is the first time I hear of it.”
 - “Aye Sir. I suggest you make haste as the news is about to hit the Ryccian media outlets.”
 - “No, tell the staff to not speak on any of it for now. If they are somehow asked about it, tell them I’ll make a statement and that they can’t give any comment on it as of yet.”
 - “Aye, Sir! Right away.”
 With that the clerk dismissed himself and Sinclair opened a channel to the Minister of Foreign Relations. Right now he couldn’t make out if this news was good or not…

 After an hour or so Sinclair got what he wanted and was astonished. Though he didn’t see the whole picture as only the King and his heirs were permitted to learn of von Kranowicz’s operation. It had all seemed surreal as if they went back in time and a duel between champions was held to decide the outcome of a battle. The Ryccian media outlets sure would have a lot of questions. It was then that his door chimed again.
 - “Come in.”
 It was Foixon Perushan.
 - “High Legate Sinclair. I believe congratulations are in order. However I have some news for you, a popular late night host is looking for another interview with you. He’s looking for a hole in your schedule so that the Ryccian people might learn you better. What shall I say to him?”
 - “Oh please call me Jeff. Had it been yesterday I would have said yes, but right now I’m not sure…”
 - “Sir, I don’t follow. I thought you wanted to smoothen relations with us.”
 - “Yes I do, but I recently learned that my government has annexed the Kontauri into the Star Kingdom.”
Was it true then? Were they barbarians after all?
 - “Sir, I don’t quite understand. Did your government go out it’s way to annex primitives?”
 - “No, we have strict protocol concerning that. The most damned thing is they went to us and called us to care for them. How the hell are we supposed to play that to gain favour with the Ryccians?!”
 Foixon was stunned at the Legate losing his temper. He had heard of humans doing it, but this easily? Perhaps it was a thing only exclusive for barbarians…
 - “Well, Sir, the Ryccian people view it as holy to maintain all life regardless of its form and to treat it with respect. I’m sure it will be alright if you’d explain the whole situation to me.”
 - “Well I see that, but apparently only Kontauri males have been granted citizenship. Now we’ll be called sexist as well, how am I supposed to keep this ambassadorial post running if all these things happen every week.”
 - “High Legate, I think you’re overreacting. Remember that the ultranationalists only are a small fraction of the Ryccian populace. Now please explain to me all the details.”

 Foixon Perushan was amazed at the story. Their monarch had duelled with another for the fate of their titles. How… Barbaric indeed. The situation was better than he had feared, since the Kontauri Senate voted unanimously in favour of the annexation, there was little the Ryccians could do about it. They had to respect the wishes, but he had to admit. The ultranationalists were going to make a fuss about it and likely protests would happen. Their discussion was interrupted however by an alarm of Sinclair. It was time for him to go pick up the kids from school.
 - “We’ll discuss this further on the way to school.”
 - “Do you expect me to go with you Sir?”
 - “You mean to tell me that you don’t like to work efficiently?”
 - “Oh no, Sir. Quite the contrary…”
 - “Good, then let’s go.”
 The two gentlemen left the Legate’s Office and walked through the tower towards the shuttle hangar. They further discussed plans on how to frame and word it towards the Ryccian people. It would prove a difficult task, but Foixon was determined to get the job done. As the shuttle pilot flew through Daonlathas’ skies Foixon couldn’t help but feed his curiosity.
 - “Sir, if I may, why can’t your wife do this? Surely she must understand that your job requires a lot of time.”
 Sinclair let out a sigh of disappointment.
 - “It’s not about her. It’s about me.”
 - “I don’t follow.”
 - “I don’t want to be a distant father to my children. I didn’t survive the Velutarian War to just sit in an office and watch my children grow old. I want to live with them as they grow old, watch them become strong and intelligent. Teach them how to live and nothing will stop me from spending time with them. Don’t you Velpans have the same connection with your family?”
 - “Of course we do. It’s just that we don’t share the same open ferocity as you. Or at least not as loudly.”
 That last part put a smile on Sinclair’s face.
 - “Well Foixon, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
 The shuttle then landed right next to where the children were waiting to get picked up. As soon as they saw their father the two little twins, John and Erin, jumped towards him. The feeling Sinclair felt was like nothing his work could do to him and gave both of them a kiss. Then came the rest, Lily greeted her father and kissed him on the cheek. She may have been shier than the two rascals, but not less affectionate. Then came to two older sons, Robert and William. They had grown closer since they moved schools and began to detest the idea of being picked up. Sinclair waved the hair on their heads and embraced them both. They gave some resistance, but Sinclair would have none of it for he was too proud of them. Foixon Perushan had never been with Sinclair when he picked up his children and slowly began to understand what he must feel. He even pondered on the idea of having his own children with Ferala, the idea certainly became more and more appealing. Just as they were to leave the school’s grounds they heard shouting. It was the Ryccian press. How Sinclair started to loath them for not granting him the privacy he wanted, but these were hotshot journalists who had taken example from the journalist that had been able to interview the King on Constantinople. It was in that moment that something changed in Foixon Perushan. Still feeling the warmth of having his own children reflected in Sinclair, he decided to intervene. It wasn’t sympathy or that was what he told himself. It was something unclear as of yet…
 - “Jeff, get your children home. I’ll handle them.”
 Sinclair was surprised he had used his name. When he looked Perushan in the eyes he noticed something was different. It was as if he understood how Sinclair felt by a trigger… However after a heartbeat he escorted his children in haste towards the shuttle and immediately flew off. Wasting no time he ordered the pilot to go around for a pass and not leave for the tower just yet. Foixon would be surrounded by the many journalist who started to shout many things.
 - “Barbarian coward!”
 - “Don’t you need some enlightenment before you do such a thing?!”
 - “Sexist, we demand equal rights for Kontauri women!”
 - “Greetings. I’m Foixon Perushan, Ryccian Advisor to High Legate Sinclair. What can I do for you?”
 - “Hello, I’m from the National ReviewIs it true that the Stoinian Star Kingdom has started to annex primitive races?”
 - “We’ve been instructed to not comment on that matter. Sinclair will make a statement later this evening concerning that matter.”
 - “So it’s true then! Don’t they consider the Kontauri a sentient species then? What’s to say they won’t do the same with other primitive race within the Star Kingdom?”
 - “I again am sorry to inform you that I can’t make any comment on that as of this moment.”
 It was obvious the journalist was from an ultranationalist news paper and it would be made clear with the next statement.
 - “So you agree with them? Don’t you value the same ideals we do?!”
 - “Sir, such a statement is ridiculous. Of course I…”
 Foixon wasn’t allowed to finish his sentence and the journalists transformed into a mod. Just what the ultranationalist politicians intended, though Sinclair was the main target, but Foixon would do as well.
 - “Traitor!”
 - “Racist!”
 - “Bigot!”
 The mob began to physically assault and accuse Foixon. The main journalist asking the questions grabbed Foixon’s clothes by the neck and asked aggressively for confirmation. School security had began to disperse the outer layers of the mob, but then Sinclair’s shuttle came back and as the shuttle still hovered its door opened. Sinclair jumped out of it and punched the journalist in the face so hard he fell on the ground. The mob looked in shock and retaliated against Sinclair. Luckily their numbers were but five as school security had broken up most of the group. Sinclair was trained in combat and made easy work out of them. All this time the holocameras recorded footage of this extraordinary event. After mere minutes it became clear to the other mob members that they wouldn’t stand a chance against a Stoinian veteran. Sinclair would however use this moment to tell the mob a clear message to their masters. He delivered his message calm and sternly with a menacing tone as he pointed with an authoritative finger to the sky.
 - “Now all of you listen to me very carefully. No one assaults any member of my staff, whatever their species of nationality. If you want to get to them, you’ll have to pass through me first.”
 With that Sinclair reached out his hand to lift up Foixon. Foixon still couldn’t process what just had happened one second he had the journalists under control and the next he lays on the ground and Sinclair fights off the mob of journalists. He couldn’t help but feel thankful to Sinclair, he hadn’t expected for a barbarian to such a thing.
 - “Thank you, High Legate.”
 Sinclair put both his hands on Foixon’s shoulders and comforted him.
 - “Oh spare me of that nonsense. You did the right thing and I couldn’t let you alone here. I don’t leave my men behind. Besides, after you gave me that look I knew what you felt.”
 - “I still don’t understand fully what happened.”
 Sinclair than gave him a slap on his arm to lighten up the mood.
 - “Don’t worry about it. I’ll give you some time to rest. Now let’s get out of here before the big boys arrive.”
 Sinclair returned to his tower with Foixon and his children. They were greeted by Rebecca, his wife and tower security. The children headed towards their mother and Foixon headed to the infirmary as he felt an ache in his back. Sinclair would however stay a bit longer in the shuttle to thank the pilot.
 - “Pilot, expect a bonus this month.”
 - “Oh thank you, Sir. But seeing you punch those ultranationalists was a bonus on its own.”
 Sinclair then left the shuttle and saw his staff looking at him. Slowly some Stoinians began to applaud him, the Ryccians followed the gesture and many praised the Legate. For he had proven himself he would protect them no matter the cost. He then embraced his wife and gave her a passionate kiss. The children looked away, but some of the Stoinians even cheered it. Sinclair was happy to see his staff’s loyalty and smiled as he spoke to them.
 - “All right! You all, get back to work!”
 - “Yes, Sir!” “Right away, Sir!”

 Later that evening Sinclair held a press conference concerning the recent annexation of the Kontauri. As he entered the room many the Ryccian journalists were shouting their questions for they were in a very curious mood. However Sinclair couldn’t make anything out of the shouting of the masses. However as soon as he started his statement the crowd calmed down to hear what he had to say.
 - Greetings. The Stoinian Star Kingdom has the following statement to say concerning the recent annexation of Kontaurius: The Stoinian Government is happy to announce the peaceful incorporation of the Empire of Kontaurus into the larger Star Kingdom. Following the first contact initiated by the Kontauri Emperor Lando Molari, he requested the presence of our King. The Kontauri believe that we are the care takers from the Prophecy of Kavu. This prophecy will be released later tonight. After a brief exchange between monarchs the Kontauri Emperor challenged King Andrei to a Kontauri duel to the death for their titles. Reports state that both monarchs fought valiantly, but our King eventually won. Emperor Molari died a true Kontauri and is a shining example of the new species we welcome with open arms as equals. Our King has refused to reveal any details concerning his private chat with the Kontauri Emperor, stating that he won’t indulge in private matters. The Kontauri Senate has voted unanimously to integrate into the large Star Kingdom and have begun integration efforts. All Kontauri males have been given full citizenship, female Kontauri are in the process of gaining it as well, but at the request of the Kontauri government this will happen gradually so that the voters may be well informed with their new rights. In short, the Stoinian Star Kingdom is happy to welcome a valuable new species into the Star Kingdom. I’ll now take your questions."
 - “Cecil Avontaine from the National Review, a patriotic paper. Why has your government accepted to indulge in such vile acts as annexations? Did you learn that rom your Treecuu friends? Surely you are too barbaric to comprehend that.”
 Sinclair’s fury became visible. He stared at the nationalistic for a good amount of heartbeats.
 - “Mr. Avontaine, perhaps your paper should think before sending its reporters into my private time with my children. You call me barbaric, but it was your mob of journalists that assaulted my staff. I don’t think you’re really in a position to call me to stupid to comprehend your values. If you listened to my statement, you’ll know that the Kontauri joined us willingly. Since you aren’t here to ask reasonable questions I won’t further indulge in giving you answers.”
 - “Marcus Valbury from the Imperial News Network. How long does the process of full integration take? Do you have any figures when all Kontauri will become full citizens?”
 - “We aim to achieve that within a T-year or two. It all depends on how the Kontauri cooperate, but Major Legate Aetius is optimistic and a capable Officer. I’m sure he’ll oversee it to the best of his capabilities and accelerate things where possible.”
 - “Yuen Sterlikt from the Imperial Post. Are you aware that assaulting a member of the press is a felony?”
 - “If the press assaults my staff, I think they forfeited their press rights and should be considered for felony themselves. I’m sure my statement at the school made my stance very clear.”
 - “Finei Tei from the Financial Times. Do you think your recent stunt will affect economic ties between our nations in any capacity?”
 - “I don’t think that has to do with anything concerning this press conference.”
 - “Falunxe Furtelin from the Imperial News Network. Some rumours suggest you might be recalled for your recent stunt. Do you have any information from your government?”
 - “I think I am well within my status of diplomatic immunity in this case. Considering I used it to protect one of my staff, I don’t think my government will recall me. However this press conference was meant for the Kontauri and not my personal life. This conference is adjourned.”

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
24/05/1620 PD, roughly one month later

 One of Sinclair’s Stoinian secretaries had dropped off a few datapads to his office with some documents regarding some Stoinian shipments for the businesses in the tower that required his permission. It was archaic for Ryccian standards, but Sinclair approved of things with more touch to them and so used datapads which required his thumb signature. As he began to review them, he noticed the first one was a bit odd and it peeked his interests as it was directed to Foixon Perushan. He would have dismissed it if it wasn’t for its contents. Kiyusni… What could it possibly be? Sinclair fired up the holocomputer on his desk. By now he had grown used to its flashiness, though he felt the controls were still somewhat janky. He wasn’t sure if he didn’t master it yet or was becoming old. With a curious nose he browsed the holonet for this Kiyusni. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that it had been in fact some sort of wood. The holonet indicated that it was some sort of renowned Velpan wood. What would Foixon do with wood? He was on Daonlathas after all, what more could he want? Then a spark hit right at home, his father’s carpentry business. Oh he loathed the fact he hadn’t called his family back home in all this time. He was so caught up in his work and his own family that he forgot about them. His nostalgia was interrupted by the doors chime.
 - “Come in.”
 - The young secretary from a few minutes ago had returned.
 - “I’m sorry Sir. I think I dropped off a wrong datapad to you. It was for your aide, Foixon Perushan.”
 - “Yes, I know. I have it right here and don’t worry about it. I’ll drop it off to him myself.”
 - “All right, Sir. But he said it was something important to him and that it had already been delayed long enough.”
 - “Don’t worry about, I’ll take care of it. No you go and resolve your other worries, okay?”
 - Sinclair replied with a smile and the secretary returned the gesture.
 - “All right, Sir. I won’t take any more of your valuable time.”
 The secretary left his office and he continued his search to this kiyusni wood. Was it possible that  Foixon was a spare time carpenter? After he had done his work on the rest of reports, he approved that of Foixon’s as well. When it was time the delivery arrived, he went towards the landing platform, but set out to find Foixon first. He sought his office, but he wasn’t there. He decided to check out the delivery himself and walked on the hallways next to the large commercial zone. There he was, the sneaky Velpan! He was surrounded by Stoinian delegates who were tasked in preparing the ceremony of Princess Elena’s arrival to the tower. The young Princess was admitted into the Ryccian Imperial Academy and a large welcome ceremony would be held upon her arrival. Sinclair decided to save the poor Velpan who clearly was growing tired of explaining Ryccian protocol to the Stoinian delegates.

[Image: transportation-hall.jpg]
An approximation of the Tower’s Commerce Plaza, but without the trees inside.

 - “Foixon! I need you for a minute.”
 Foixon turned in a split second towards Sinclair. His Velpan instincts were still on point, that’s for sure. He excused himself to the delegates as Sinclair approached him.
 - “Mr. Perushan, I have a surprise for you.”
 - “High Legate, I don’t understand. I you don’t mind I have work to…”
 - “Oh, you mean to tell me that the kiyusni is in fact a gift for me?”
 Foixon did his best to suppress his confusion, but Sinclair saw it and enjoyed it far too much.
 - “I’m sorry gentlemen, I’ll have to borrow Mr. Perushan for a moment. He’ll let you know when he will be available again.”
 If there’s one thing Foixon hated Sinclair for was when he interrupted his work for some Stoinian off-duty squabbling. However, this time was different…
 - “Sir, can you elaborate a bit more?”
 - “Oh, we don’t thank our superiors when they save us from delegates? That’s no way to thank your boss Foixon. Also, remember what I said about the rank.”
 - “Yes, Si… Jeff. Thank you, but you know as well as I do that I don’t like to be interrupted during my work.”
 Sinclair still wasn’t happy on how he said his name, but a matter for another time.
 - “Oh, but I thought you might for this occasion. After all, Janet told me this delivery of yours was delayed.”
 - “Si… Jeff, if I may. How did you obtain the schedule of the delivery?”
 - “Janet, one of secretaries, dropped it off on accident in my office. Then I looked into the details and the old carpenter’s son in me couldn’t help but feel nostalgic.”
 Foixon was even more confused, but this time he was able to hide his expression. He also didn’t understand why Sinclair was so interested in his delivery, though he started to suspect.
 - “Did you grow in a carpenter’s family as well?”
 Sinclair smiled as his friend was beginning to resolve his little puzzle.
 - “You Velpans truly are cunning are you. Why you don’t see me as a carpenter?”
 -“Not really, Si… I thought you were a military man.”
 - “Oh, I am. But tell me, does that mean I can’t have any hobbies at all? Especially when your father is carpenter, you learn a few tricks here and there when you are forced to work in his shop as a child.”
 Foixon was slightly shocked as he interpreted it very differently to what Sinclair actually meant. Nonetheless he still asked with a neutral tone.
 - “Do your people use child labour?”
 Sinclair grinned at his friends response.
 - “Oh, no. It’s just those things that your father wants to teach you as well. I’m guessing you have a similar background, though I can’t imagine how you got your hands on that expensive Velpan wood.”
 - “Yes, my father was a carpenter as well. He shared some of his trades with me as well when I was little. Though it has been such a long time… The kiyusni is a gift from my father. You see, he’s an artisan who works with this type of wood. He thought it was best I had something to relax in my spare time and make something to connect with my home planet while I stay here.”
 Foixon’s tone wasn’t too enthusiastic. He had made it his career to escape his home planet and grew to detest some of work when he had to help his father in carpentry.
 - “Oh, your father sure seems a wise man, Foixon. Let me know if he comes for a visit.”
 - “How come you say that? You don’t even know him.”
 Sinclair smiled as they passed a corner towards the hangar.
 - “Because I give the same lesson to my children and I don’t like to call myself a fool. That would be quite unfortunate as a diplomat, especially when you have the National Review criticizing your every move.”
 Sinclair saw in the corner of his eyes that Foixon made a little smile. He wasn’t certain, but it felt like it was the first time he saw him smile.
 - “Oh I know that feeling all to well, Jeff.”
 Sinclair opened the door and there was a shuttle unloading multiple goods. The pilots were busy to unload his cargo, but Sinclair decided to help these Ryccians.
 - “Say, you fine gentlemen have a delivery for my friend Perushan over here?”
 The pilots were surprised the Stoinian Legate had appeared and bothered to speak to them. So the rumours were true then… The High Legate was so… Open.
 - “Let me see… Ah yes. A full batch of kiyusni, roughly 20 large planks and a box. Where do you want us to unload them?”
 - “Oh just over there. Here I’ll even help you with it.”
 The pilots and Foixon were confused. This Stoinian Legate certainly loved to indulge in the work of the lower ranks… And so Sinclair thanked the pilots and helped Foixon with his delivery.
 - “So, Foixon. What are you gonna make out of it?”
 - “Oh, I don’t really know yet. I’ll have to transport it somewhere first, but I doubt we have sufficient room in our apartment. Ferala won’t like it either.”
 - “Oh, no. Unexpected projects and women don’t go together. I remember my mother screaming after my father for not being ready with his work when dinner was ready.”
 - “It appears that is a universal constant. Even my father couldn’t escape the wrath of my mother when dinner was ready.”
 - “Tell you what Foixon. I’ll find you a spot where we can drop this off during the day and meet you here back at 19 hundred. Deal?”
 - “I take it, Rebecca has children pickup duty today then?”
 - “Yes, now. Let’s get back to work shall we.”

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
Hangar 2,

 Foixon entered the hangar and saw Sinclair tapping on his datapad next to the kiyusni. He approached him, though it felt weird to be here at this hour. A few technicians were working on a shuttle, but pretty much the rest of the crew had left.
 - “I take it you have found a place for storage.”
 - “I wouldn’t call it exactly storage, but rather a workshop.”
 - “A workshop, but where did you find it?”
 - “Oh in the Moonlight District.”
 Foixon was surprised. How did he manage to acquire a workshop in the most expensive artisan district on Daonlathas?
 - “Jeff… How and what are you planning?”
 - “Well, I could use some down time as well. Something to get my hands and mind busy that isn’t work. Franky running every morning doesn’t quite do the same trick anymore. I was hoping we could work on a project with your wood get our hands dirty. You know, something to relax.”
 - “I’m sure we can arrange another visit to Voluntaia.”
 - “No, no. Something to accomplish ourselves and be proud of. The Tower is our long-term project, but we need a short-term one as well. This is just the perfect opportunity.”
 Foixon didn’t share Sinclair’s enthusiasm as he viewed that such work had no future, or at least with him in it.
 - “I know you too well to argue with you on such matters. But remember, this is my wood and I’m in charge of the project.”
 - “Yes, Sir.”
 Foixon was surprised to hear him say that. Now he knew how it felt, though he could accustom to it. The two boarded the shuttle and loaded the kiyusni on the shuttle.
 - “You’ll have to take the pilot’s seat on this one Foixon. I really should get my pilot’s license for Ryccian vessels though.”
 - “Perhaps, you should prioritize that project over this one.”
 - “I think I just might after this one. I shouldn’t delay it too much, sooner or later William might want to get one.”
 - “I’m sure it will come together, Jeff.”
 - “That, I’m certain off.”
 Foixon than piloted the shuttle towards the Moonlight District.
 - “You still haven’t answered how you managed to obtain a workshop in the Moonlight District.”
 - “Oh I have a few strings here and there.”
 - “So you really aren’t going to tell me.”
 - “You remember Nick O’Carr?”
 - “I suspect it’s the famous bounty hunter.”
 - “Yes, more of a private investigator nowadays. I contacted him and he told me in the outer outskirts of the Moonlight District there was a workshop of an artisan who retired a few weeks ago. He did some small investigation for him a while back and has become rather close with the old fellow. He helped convince the artisan to sell his workshop to me and told me I could use the place already.”
 Foixon was impressed. He never suspected the Legate to maintain such good relations with the low lives of his nation. Truly peculiar…
 - “Do you always keep such good relations with every Stoinian who passes on Daonlathas?”
 - “Just the ones who can help me understand all level of Daonlathas.”
 Foixon then parked the shuttle on the designated landing pad of the workshop. As they opened the door, a silhouette was waiting for them. Foixon wasn’t certain what to do next, but Sinclair was one step ahead.
 - “Ah, Nick O’Carr. You have the keys?”
 - “Yes, I do, Mr. Sinclair. Hope you boys have fun with it.”
 O’Carr handed over the passcodes to Sinclair and tipped his hat.
“Now gentlemen. If you don’t mind, I have some investigating to do for an unsecure husband and time is of the essence here. See ya.”
 O’Carr then mounted his speeder bike and flew away in what seemed to be a burnout. Foixon was still somewhat perplexed.
 - “I certainly hope he has a license.”
 - “Oh I wouldn’t worry too much about him. Now, let’s get them unloaded.”
 The pair opened the workshop and it was clear it hadn’t been used for a few days, but the smell of wooden snips was still present. Sinclair felt a deep nostalgic urge, while Foixon didn’t care so much. They put the planks against the wall and Sinclair took the box from on top of them.
 - “Now, let’s see those tools your father gave us.”
 Sinclair opened the box, but instead of tools, it was a bottle. It was filled with some viscous orange liquid accompanied by a digital message. The message was written in an alphabet Sinclair wasn’t common with, though it must have been Velpan.
 - “May I ask what exactly this is?”
 Foixon smiled as he saw the bottle he knew exactly what it was. Another gift from his father.
“Ah. That is kiyushnol, an alcoholic beverage made from the syrup of kiyusni trees on Kiyu. A strong alcoholic beverage common in our parts.”
 - “I see, your father is even more wiser than I thought.”
 - “Do you intend to make your children alcoholics then?”
 Sinclair laughed, he looked at Perushan and he didn’t seem as stern as before. Was that his first joke?
 -“Oh, no. But you must admit that one must enjoy the finer aspects of life as well. Now, what did you have in mind as a project?”
 Foixon pondered for a moment, but then remembered a conversation with Ferala the other day.
 - “Well Ferala didn’t quite like our couches here. Perhaps we shall make her a new one.”
 - “Good! We’ll draw some plans then. The bottle is for when we finish.”
 - Sinclair gave his hand to Foixon and both shook it in a confident Stoinian manner.
 - “All right, Jeff. Let’s get to it.”
 This time he meant it.
 The next three hours the duo made their plans and divided the tasks between them. Sinclair revealed his father’s technique on how to make sturdier corner pieces and Foixon had to admit after a demonstration that they would indeed use his model. They even started to cut some of the wood, but soon saw that the clock was already late. They decided to continue this project after work for the following week. And so, the next week at 19:00, the duo would go to their workshop and continue to work on a new couch. The two became closer and the staff started to notice it. Sinclair would talk about their project and Foixon would address Sinclair as Jeff, a right not even the closest Stoinian staff to Sinclair had gained. As they sawed and worked the wood Sinclair relived his old times with his father and even Foixon regained the appreciation for his father work. Somehow doing it himself, he felt a connection with the wood and what it stood for. How come he never felt this way before? Was this what my father feels during his work? The duo eventually completed the frame and filled the couch up with comfortable cushions made with Khison leather imported from Stoinia. Foixon, as a Velpan could appreciate hunting and was open to the idea of making it out of a leathery substance. Ferala certainly made her preference for leather known. Foixon even was interested in perhaps hunting these Khisons himself one day and Sinclair promised him the opportunity. Sinclair somehow was right as Foixon pondered after seeing his completed work. All this hands on work was relaxing and when completed, it certainly felt good to do so. A plank or two would however remain as a surplus.
 - “Well, we better show Ferala what we’ve been doing all this time. What do you plan to do with the rest of Kiyusni?”
 Foixon pondered for a moment. Perhaps… Maybe… I think that could work.
 - “I think I have an idea.”
 Sinclair watched him for a few heartbeats and realized he wasn’t going to receive and answer anytime soon.
 - “Well, let pack her up.”
 - “Aren’t you forgetting something Jeff?”
 Foixon smiled as he lifted up his father’s bottle of kiyushnol. Sinclair smiled too at his friend.
 - “All right, but only because your father is ever so wise.”
 The two laughed and continued to exchange jokes well into the stairs at Foixon’s apartment. Ferala noticed it and opened the door for them before they could even ring.
 - “What is the meaning of this Foixon?! And who is this?”
 - “Ferala, meet my boss. High Legate Jeffrey David Sinclair. Jeff, meet my wonderful wife, Ferala Valkeut.”
 Sinclair smiled and tilted his head. Ferala was surprised to see the Stoinian Legate in her apartment and just now realized what the duo had brought in house. A splendid work of a couch. Ferala was truly impressed by the design and comfort. She sat on it and tested it out. It felt so comfortable and the leather felt good as well. How did they make it themselves?
 - “Well, Ferala. Do you like it?”
 - “Like it? It is most exquisite. I never thought the Stoinian Legate and my partner could indulge in such handiwork.”
 - “Oh trust me, the Legate remembered a few tricks from his father. Apparently two sons of carpenters still can do some of their fathers’ work.”
 Sinclair then came with a proposition of his own.
 - “Perhaps if I get decommissioned, I’ll move to Daonlathas and we can start an artisan business. Sinushan Incorporated, bringing peace between our nations, one couch at a time.”
 The Velpans laughed at Sinclair’s slogan.
 - “Well, I’ll leave the happy couple to enjoy their new couch.”
 - “Another time then, Jeff?”
 - “Yes, another time.”
 Sinclair knew it was about that bottle, but they would find time again. He tilted his head and smiled as he left the apartment.

[Image: Classic-leather-sofas-for-adorable-livin...50x390.jpg]
The couch made by Sinclair and Perushan.

 - “What was that about, Foixon?”
 - “Oh nothing, a small insider.”
 - “I also have some news for you as well.”
 Foixon wasn’t sure what to make of it. Ferala’s tone certainly wasn’t angry, but rather timid.
 - “How do I put this… It seems someone has forgotten to take their pills.”
 Foixon didn’t understand at first, but then he knew what she meant. He must have overlooked it as he was too invested in the couch project.
 - “I’m pregnant Foixon.”
 Foixon embraced her and sniffed her as a sign of affection. He knew he should feel some sort of guilt, but he was too over joyous with the news.
 - “I’m happy, Ferala. I don’t know how I could have overlooked it… I just…”
 - “Don’t. I’m happy it happened. I love you.”
 - “I love you too, Ferala.”
 Just what I had in mind for that kiyusni… A crib.

Executive District,
Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,
16/06/1620 PD

 Little over a month had passed since the now famous event happened when Sinclair punched Ryccian journalists on the school ground of the Imperial Academy. Finally the situation had died down and it largely seemed forgotten, at least within Stoinian circles. The Joint Fleet was beginning with its operations to explore uncharted space near the Treecuu and Stoinian borders. Some Ryccian media outlets discussed it, but it largely remained obscure compared to the real reason why this day was so special. Princess Elena Casarion had been admitted into the Ryccian Imperial Academy roughly a month ago and she would finally arrive today. A large welcome ceremony was being prepared in the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower in her honour as Stoinian everywhere rejoiced her feat. Nexus Enterprise even gave her a top of the line luxury cruiser as a PR stunt. Even Ryccian nationalists praised her actions as they saw it as a way to “enlighten” the Stoinian Royal House. The Princess would arrive earlier compared to the Ryccian academic calendar as to have enough time to integrate into Ryccian society. Elena had had lengthy discussions with the High Legate concerning Ryccian sensitivity on matters such as their past and racism. Elena however sure was a gem of the Royal House, but still inexperienced. Hopefully, she will get the ropes of diplomacy easier than most.
 Sinclair was in his office’s terrace, enjoying the view as a stress relief. He had spoken with the King before, but that didn’t mean he grew accustomed to the presence of the royal family. Then finally, he heard the beep from his desk. He entered his office and pressed a button and the holo image of Princess Elena appeared. He had finally learned to use the technology, but he still was surprised the Princess had the same capabilities. He stood to attention and asked the Princess.
 - “Your Majesty, to what do I owe you the pleasure.”
 Princess Elena smiled.
 - “At ease High Legate. I can’t have my mentor stand all sternly all day. Captain Constantinescu wanted to inform you that we have arrived in orbit and to make the final preparations. Though I wanted to tell you that myself.”
 Sinclair was charmed by the Princess as he switched to a more relaxed position.
 - “Thank you, your Majesty. We’ll finalize the preparations. We’ll expect your arrival in 20 minutes as planned.”
 Sinclair still was visibly confused about the holo image and Elena picked it up.
 - “Sinclair, I’m sure you learned by now to not show your concerns so openly, what is it?”
 - “It’s just… How did you get your hands on holo technology?”
 - “Ah, that… Since the Joint Exploratory Fleet has started to make new lines of ships, our Treecuu allies have shared such technologies with us.”
 - “I see… Well, we’ll get started with the preparations then. See you soon, your Majesty.”
 - “Likewise, Sinclair.”
 Unbeknownst to Sinclair, the N.E.S. Magnifcent, Elena’s personal starline cruiser, had a pair of surprise passengers.

20 minutes later…

 The Commerce Plaza of the Ambassadorial Tower was filled with Stoinian regalia. Many Stoinians had come to the occasion and stood behind two rows of Stoinian Royal Guardsmen. A red carpet laid across the room and even a Ryccian Symphonic Orchestra was contacted to perform the Stoinian Royal Anthem and provide music during the Princess’ Welcoming Party. Most Stoinians had small flags of their nation to the surprise of Ryccians, but some of the Stoinian businesses in the Commerce Plaza were quick to adjust to the market. As the the populace murmured, the Princess Honour Captain, Eftimie Constantinescu emerged from a hallway and shouted.

Captain Eftimie Constantinescu

 - “Make way for her Royal Highness, Princess Elena Casarion of the Stoinian Star Kingdom.”
 The Guardsmen responded in the typical Stoinian fashion.
 - “Hail to Mankind! Hail to the Stoinian Star Kingdom! Hail to the Princess! URAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”
 At the exact ending of the ura the Ryccian Orchestra started to play the Stoinian Royal Anthem and Princess Elena, escorted by eight Guardsmen, started to walk the red carpet. The Princess was surprised by the enthusiasm of her people as they kneeled for her. Even the Ryccians were surprised to this blind show of loyalty by the Stoinian populace. The Ryccian holo cameras would capture this and Sinclair already thought about the hiatus the Ryccian nationalists will make out of this. Though many, Stoinians and Ryccians alike, were stupefied by the beauty of the Princess. Albeit it her fashion sense was modest compared to what some of the present Ryccian nobility wore. As the Anthem ended, the Stoinians stood up and cheered their Princess while the many Stoinian Flags started to colour the plaza. Finally she had made it at the podium.
 - “Your Royal Highness, may I present you my wife Rebecca.”
 The two Stoinian women then kissed each other on the cheek, one time each.
 - “A pleasure likewise, Rebecca.”
 - “This is my Ryccian Advisor, Foixon Perushan.”
 - “An honour to meet you your Majesty.”
 A month ago Foixon’s word would have been a lie. They still weren’t as heartfelt as Stoinians, but rather more curious. Still it was part of the job. Sinclair the continued to present the Ryccian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taun Liat Wei, and some of the Ryccian nobility. Afterwards she started her speech towards the Stoinian populace, though her real target audience were the Ryccian through the holocameras.
 - “My fellow Stoinians. Dear Ryccians. It’s with humility that I am pleased to see my arrival to mean so much to you. I’m certain my time here will benefit both our star nations and bring is closer together. Many would have thought that the unfortunate first contact between our nations would leave a dark stain between us forever. But look at us now. Working together and learning from one another to build a brighter tomorrow. In many ways it is like my entrance to the Ryccian Imperial Academy. It was rough and hard to learn for it, but in the end this too we will endure. Without a doubt, there will be hardships. But together we will overcome them, for the betterment of all.”
 The Stoinian applauded the Princess’ speech and the reaction of the Ryccians still remained to be seen. The plaza was then transformed into a ballroom with the Ryccian orchestra providing the music. It may have been a little substandard for the higher Ryccian nobility, but it was a perfect mixture of Ryccian and Stoinian standards. Sinclair wore his dress uniform and the Princess an even more extravagant look. Like the ball, it was a mixture of Stoinian and Ryccian elements and somehow looked very Tozorian for the Stoinians. Even though the focus was on the Princess, it was still Sinclair did the opening honours and initiated the ball by dancing with the Princess. He was uncomfortable with the idea and even saw a sort of admiration in the eyes of the Princess. Sinclair nearly trampled one of the Princess’ feet, but was quick to adjust his foot. The Princess’ fabulous dress didn’t quite help on it, but it wasn’t obvious unless one was a dancing connoisseur. After that High Legate’s and Princess’ dance, the ball continued and many Ryccian nobility started to introduce their younger members who attended the Imperial Academy to the Stoinian Princess.

 As the ball continued a couple of older Stoinians entered the room. Their dresses were according to the etiquette, but they were visibly confused as it was much larger than what they envisioned. Luckily a pair of Velpans was able to assist them through universal translators. Sure it was a bit clunky as it had some problems with certain Stoinian pronunciations, but it was doing it’s job.
 - “Excuse me, you seem lost. Can we help you?”
 The Velpans were expecting some racial slurs from the Stoinian couple, but were surprised when they were met with friendly faces. These people really were an enigma…
 - “Ah look at that Amanda. These must be Velpans Jeff told us about. Well… I guess they have an alright puss for Velpans. Guess we’ll have to grow accustomed to it then. Ha! What was Jeff’s buddy called again? Foshion Peryusan?”
 - “Please forgive my husband. He can be quite rowdy, but he’s quite a good feller. Andrew, will you keep it down now?”
 - “Aw’right honey.”
 The Velpans were stupefied when they heard the name pronounced by the male Stoinian. Sure he had butchered it, but one can they expect from barbarians. The older male Velpan interjected the Stoinian couple which seemed to exhibit some characteristics of the Imperial Rim. Though they themselves were from the Velpan Rime, they had grown a certain soft spot with the Imperial Rim as their world shared some similarities with the Imperial Rim.
 - “Excuse my intrusion. But did you say Foixon Perushan? How do you know this person?”
 - “Ah… That’s how you pronounce it. Foxion Peryushan. Well Mr. Peryushan works for our son, Jeff Sinclair. He’s the Legate around here.”
 - “Foixon Perushan is our son. It seems Winds of Fate have brought their parent together…”
 - “Hol’ on. You’re the parents of my son’s assistant? Have you seen our son then?”
 - “It would appear so and no. Not yet at least. Perhaps we can find them together?”
 - “Oh, that sure sounds nice. Meanwhile I can tell you all about my newest furniture creation back home in Lousiana. I’m sure it can even be on par with the standards of you Ryccies!”
 Amanda wanted to shush her husband, but the Velpan male was quick to add some interest.
 - “Don’t say. I’m a carpenter as well… I’ll be the judge of your newest creation then.”
 - “Perfect! Guess I’m already getting ahead of my competitors.”
 Andrew Sinclair then pulled out a small datapad from his suit with the details of his couch. It was mixing Terran classical with modern features, such as a cooling box and different options. The visualization was 2D, but the Velpans were quick to adjust from their holographic standards. They didn’t really care at first, but as Andrew explained more and more, it became clear that the Stoinian was unto something. While talking about their mutual interests, they walked through the ball in search of their sons. Though it was clear the Stoinian couple was new to this sort of event…

A few moments later…

 High Legate Sinclair was enjoying the ball with his wife as they danced with the music. This time he was more careful as he had learned from his mistakes while dancing with the Princess and didn’t intend to repeat it. However, he saw Foixon emerging from the crowd accompanied by … No! That can’t be. He didn’t have the time as his father was already on to him. The happy couple stopped waltzing around and turned towards the emerging group.
 - “Ah! There he is, the son of a gun. I gotta hand it to ya, you’ve really made this place into something. I also see you haven’t put any weight on ya. Good, I don’t want you to become some lazy-ass bureaucrat.”
 - “With such I mouth you definitely wouldn’t be one.”
 The two shared some laughs and embraced each other. With Sinclair kissing his mother on her cheeks and his father did the same with Rebecca.
 - “How did you come here?”
 - “Well Princess Elena thought it might have been a pleasant surprise if your parents appeared all of a sudden. Besides, you haven’t been the most talkative person with your parents as of late…”
 It was then that Foixon presented his parents, interjecting the old Stoinian’s barrage of comments.
 - “Jeff, may I present you my parents. Fixumi and Kiyuni Perushan.”
 Jeff would kiss the hand of Kiyuni, Foixon’s mother and proceed to shake Fixumi’s hand. To his surprise, the Velpan actually put some force in his grip and it was then that Sinclair released his force conform the Ryccian norms. Fixumi was surprised. This barbarian is adjusting to our customs? How… Surprising… He seems amiable enough, unlike the rumours I’ve heard. Fixumi responded kindly, though he may not have meant every word that he said.
 - “A pleasure to meet you, High Legate Sinclair. I must say that I admire the work you put into this place. I’m sure many other Stoinians would have succumbed to the task.”
 - “Your people would have had my head on a silver plate if it wasn’t for your son.”
 Sinclair and Foixon shared a smile. It was clear the two had become clear friends, to the surprise of the Velpan parents. Has our son fallen into the Stoinian’s grip? Andrew Sinclair then surprised Sinclair about his newest business venture.
 - “Well Jeff, your friends parents are apparently carpenters as well. Perhaps we should bond our businesses together as the first joint Stoinio-Ryccian franchise; bringing peace to the sector, one couch at a time!”
 The Stoinians laughed at his comical presentation, while the Velpans remained calm and focused. One would expect such a behaviour from a Kaminoan, but Sinclair already deducted that the Velpan couple was sceptical of him and his family. Fixumi replied in a polite manner to Sinclair’s father.
 - “The schemes you have shown me have certain merits, but it might be too soon to call a joint franchise at this stage.”
 - “Perhaps so, but I’m sure you’ll change your mind once you see what me and Foixon put together.”
 Both couples of parents were surprised. None of them had mentioned it before and Sinclair’s father was quick to react in his lousy manner as Ferala responded to him.
 - “Nah… Have ya been practicing your carpentry skills son? I knew ya should have stayed with our business!”
 - “Oh, it’s quite a work indeed. Perhaps you should all come over and see it yourselves.”
 - “Now that is a splendid idea! I’m sure my son can make the necessary arrangements, won’t ya Jeff?”
 Foixon and his parents looked frowningly at the Legate. It was something those Velpans were good at, though Sinclair was still quite amused by their looks when doing it.
 - “I’m sure we can arrange that. If the happy couple would have us over for dinner?”
 Foixon answered his friend’s question positively.
 - “I think we can arrange that. Won’t we Ferala?”
 - “Oh definitely! I’ll make one of my specials.”
 - “Well that’s settled then.”
 An aide then approached Sinclair and whispered something in his ear.
 - “Well then ladies and gentlemen. It appears my presence is requested by the Minister Wei. Even on balls matters of state don’t seem to escape me. I’ll arrange for your transports these evening. I’m looking forward learning to know you all better. Oh and father, please don’t embarrass me.”
 - “Ha, too late for that son. Ya know it’s my job to do that.”
 The Stoinians exchanged some more laughs, some more reserved than others. It was then that the different couples split up and enjoyed the rest of the ball in the young Princess’ honour.

Later that evening in Foixon’s apartment…

 The young Velpans’ apartment was rather luxurious compared to Sheilan standards, though it might have been slightly above average for Daonlathas. Nonetheless, all of the guests were impressed as they toured the apartment. Foixon had come a long way from his home of Sheilan, many would have thought it near impossible, but fate had decided otherwise. The large table seemed a little overcrowded, but the Stoinian couple certainly didn’t mind it, if anything it made them even more open. Before dinner was ready the Velpan parents had asked questions on how Sinclair had adapted to Ryccian society. To their surprise, he was nothing like the rumours they had heard. Sinclair certainly seemed civilized and showed strong opinions on certain matters, though they were amiable to his opinions. Then the prize of the evening was ready and dinner was served. Ferala had made a traditional Velpan stew made from Gisall, a chicken-like creature from Sheilan, though it was much larger and juicier than your standard chicken.
 - “My compliments Ferala. Truly delicious. Rebecca will have to give everything in her to top something like this”
 - “Indeed Ferala, maybe I should try this recipe one day. If I may know your secret that is.”
 - “Oh, I’ll be happy to share the recipe with you. I’m sure you’ll be able to master it yourself.”
  It was then that Kiyuni reminisced the days of Foixon’s childhood.
 - “Oh I remember the days when we and our sons would come home after a hunting trip with dozens of Gisalls.”
 Sinclair’s father was surprised by this answer and wanted to know more.
 - “Really? I thought ya Ryccians looked down upon hunting?”
 - “Most yes, but we Velpans have predatory roots and hunting has remained somewhat prominent on world within the Velpan Rim. Such as our homeworld Sheilan.”
 - “Interesting… Well, cheers to hunting then. We Stoinians pride ourselves in those fields. Call it pioneer culture eh?”
 - “Is your homeworld a rural planet then?”
 Sinclair interjected as he didn’t want his father to embarrass his nation. By now he had grown accustomed to be a diplomat.
 - “On the contrary. Louisiana was one of the first thirteen colonies inaugurated by King Iulian the Starwalker. It has become a central planet within the Core Sector of Stoinia. However, our pioneer and frontier spirit has never diminished, hence why maintain certain traditions mostly practiced on rural worlds. Louisiana is famed for its car industry amongst other things. However, if you really want to experience a good hunting trip, you should visit Hyperion. Millions upon millions of Khison roam the many plains there and has become a hunting spot for the entire Star Kingdom.”
 - “And what are these Khison like?”
 - “Large hairy cows is their best description. Though their meat and leather are highly prized. We even used its leather to make the couch over there. They travel in large herds as far as the eye could see…”
 It was then that Fixumi asked surprisingly, to his son’s disapproval.
 - “I’m amazed you haven’t yet hunted them to extinction yet.”
 - “Father please…”
 - “Oh it’s quite alright Foixon. We Stoinians have learned from the mistakes on Old Terra and respect nature everywhere. We hunt to provide ourselves, yes, but it doesn’t happen without respect. We don’t kill for fun and often deliberate whether we take an animal’s life or not. Blatant killing hasn’t brought us anywhere and contrary to what most Ryccians believe, we sometimes even decide to not take the life of an animal if we don’t feel its right. My father can confirm that, he once refused to kill a large and magnificent Lousianan Moose. Tell us more about it father.”
 - “Ah yes. I had decide my target from far away. As we travelled to put ourselves in an optimal position we stumbled across this giant Lousianan Moose. When I say giant, I really mean it. That feller was maybe 3 to 4 meters tall and boasted a magnificent pair of antlers. Truly it could have been the prize of a lifetime However, I was awestruck by it and I couldn’t bring myself to kill a creature I had just stumbled upon. I had my eyes on another target and it felt wrong to just shoot on something I stumbled upon. It doesn’t feel like a hunt then. I’m sure you get what I mean.”
 The elder Velpans were confused. Any Velpan would have shot that giant moose, if anything this was luck at its finest. They couldn’t comprehend how the Stoinian would have thrown away this chance, but the older Stoinian was happy to elaborate. Suddenly the old man had shifted from his more comical approach to a more serious tone. One the Velpans did welcome.
 - “I’m not sure I quite understand? You said yourself it was a prize of a lifetime. Why didn’t you shoot it?”
 - “Well… Ya see… Once you decide to pick a target you stick with it. Something young Jeff didn’t understand back then. That’s part of hunting, you don’t just shoot whatever comes to your way. You go after a specific animal and go after it. You create a rivalry of sorts and don’t change your objective. That’s what a hunt is all about.”
 - “I think I begin to understand.”
 Although the Velpans didn’t fully understand it, they noticed his sincerity. These Stoinians lived with certain codes of honour which were commendable. Not at all as to what Ryccian media has portrayed them to be… They truly are an enigma.
 The rest of the evening they continued chatting about different subjects such as politics, trade, commonalities between both worlds… And most importantly, the couch made from the Kiyusni wood Fixumi had gifted to his son. Both parents were surprised by the quality and artisanship their sons had put into the craft. They were so impressed that they started to discuss how to improve it and the two fathers started to study their sons’ blueprints. To the surprise of the rest, Fixumi had opened up and became more and more amiable with Andrew with each passing second. Andrew’s passion for carpentry ran as deep as in Fixumi and both of them started to form a bond of sorts. After spending hours at Foixon’s apartment, the Stoinians had decided it was late enough and returned to the Ambassadorial Tower. Not before they had finalized the plans for their joint business venture. To the surprise of everyone but Andrew and Fixumi, they had come to an agreement and Foixon and Jeff would be their first shareholders. Thus Sinushan Inc. was born with their motto; bringing peace to the stars, one couch at a time. Their joint luxury couches would surely create a new wave in the artisan sector on both markets. This was the first time a Ryccian and Stoinian company decided to work together and all of this was possible due to Jeff’s work here. Sure it would take a month or so to fill out the paperwork, but the older duo was set with the idea. Sinclair’s mission here was becoming a success and he was overjoyed.
 His joy would however be overturned as Ryccian paparazzi awaited him at the apartments entrance. They shouted many questions such
 - “Will you punch me too Sinclair?”
 - “What are the Princess’ stances on the trade between our nations?”
 - “What are you doing here in this apartment complex?”.
 Sinclair knew he didn’t have a choice now and before his father could step in and create another diplomatic crisis, he stepped forward with a clear message.
 - “I’m here on a private visit to my Ryccian Advisor. Sadly I won’t take any of your questions as of now. If you would please leave me and my Ryccian Advisor alone, it would be very much appreciated. However… I will take this opportunity to announce that I will appear on an exclusive interview on INN. If you have any questions for my, redirect them to INN and I will answer them. Have a good night.”

Daonlathas, Ryccian Empire
The Caesar Flickerman Show, National Imperial Network

 Ryccian holovision was extravagant in its style, and the Caesar Flickerman Show was no exception. It was part-political, part-celebrity show in its theme, as Caesar interviewed various politicians and turned their talks into a glitzy show, with a cheery audience and all. Politics in this show was turned into entertainment, and although Ryccians were smart enough to distinguish politics from comedy, this show brought out the “human side” of the politicians, or so it claimed. Besides, it was fun to see.
 Tonight was an interview like no other. For the first time, a foreigner was a guest for the show. High Legate Sinclair was invited by the NIN to be interviewed by Caesar Flickerman. Due to the fear of ultranationalist attack, security was subtly increased, with Imperial soldiers in “plainclothes” (lol) being placed amongst the audience to keep an eye on any suspicious activity.
 - “Ladies and gentlebeings, your master of ceremonies, Caesar Flickerman!”
 The show began, and in usual pompous fashion, Flickerman entered the stage, and the audience cheered.

 - “Thank you! Thank you! Welcome, welcome, welcome welcome to the Caesar Flickerman Show! Now, in about five minutes they’re all going to be out here, including our special guest. We’ll save the best for last. Are you excited?”
 The crowd cheered, and it only intensified upon his command.
 - “Let me hear it! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
 - “Our ten-year anniversary! Can you believe it has been that long? How long have I been at NIN? Don’t answer that. Ah ha ha ha. I don’t look that old, now do I?”
 - ”No!”
 - “Good answer. Ha ha ha ha! Now, our first guest is the Senator from…”
 A plethora of politicians paraded for the cameras. Tonight was no exception. First was a Senator, then a Minister, and then a Governor. Finally, it was time for Sinclair to appear.
 - “Now, our final guest is a special one, and for our ten-year anniversary no less. I have been waiting for this one all night. He is from the Stoinian Star Kingdom.”
 A few people in the audience were annoyed. Others cheered a bit as he mentioned this country. One person booed. An expert at dealing with crowds, Flickerman tried to use this to steer his own narrative and own the show.
 - “We all have our conflicting views on this country. I’m contractually obliged to not cause a fuss, but I sure wouldn’t try to pick a fight with our special guest. He’s a military veteran, and we certainly saw that a few weeks ago with that fight in the Imperial Academy. Feisty, wasn’t he? I wouldn’t want to gamble my life with this one! Ha ha ha ha! From the planet of Louisiana, you know him as the Fighting Legate, but we know him as Jeffrey Sinclair!”
 Sinclair entered the stage. The audience stood up to applaud him. Despite the Empire being divided on opinion, most Ryccians were still polite enough to Stoinian officials to grant this basic amount of respect. Besides, due to the harassment of the ultranationalists, Sinclair had earned significant public sympathy with the public, so it was not surprising.
 - “Jeffrey Sinclair! That was certainly quite the fight you put a few weeks ago. I have to say, we were very moved, I think, when we saw you defend your assistant and your children. Barring that frosty incident, how are you finding Daonlathas?”
 Sinclair stepped on stage in his full dress uniform hosting a couple more aiguillettes above his right arm as well as the golden Stoinian Stars on his epaulettes. Sinclair had learned to always expect the worst with a Ryccian crowd. He expected to be thrown foul things at him and was pleasantly surprised by the applauding crowd. It was a trick to appreciate the good things in Ryccia and as of late, such pleasant surprises were becoming the norm. Some might have expected Sinclair to come in a more casual attire, but nonetheless he felt he should wear his uniform. He was still representing Stoinia here and her military traditions were essential to it. Sinclair surprisingly showed to be very comfortable with the show’s host. He wasn’t thrown off-guard by any flying holocameras or other exotic technologies as by now he had grown accustomed to them. Maybe even fond of them.
 - “Well Mr. Flickerman. My comments when I first arrived here still stand. Daonlathas is truly an inspiring place and I honestly can’t wait to see Cornucopia to be like Daonlathas. Though I do miss the green sometimes when looking at all that shiny metal, hence why I filled our Ambassadorial Tower with them!”
 Sinclair’s joke resonated with the audience and even Caesar Flickerman let out a laugh.
 - “As for that fight… I think I have made it clear you shouldn’t mess with the family or men of a former Stoinian Marine. Me may seem feisty at times, but we certainly have big hearts. We have to maintain our reputation as the Bulldogs of the Star kingdom. I’m sure you of all people can understand the necessity of keeping a good appearance.”
 Sinclair looked with a devious yet friendly smile at Sinclair. If the holocameras were to capture it, it would have made an excellent humour platform for the Ryccian youth if they captioned it.
 - “I see, we have a lot less green. Interesting observation. I suggest you take a vacation to Mahogany. It’s a great planet, I assure you”
 A few people in the audience cheered. Some of them had gone to Mahogany before.
 -" Ah, I see someone likes Mahogany. I also like it. After all, how could I not like my homeworld? Ha ha!"
 - “Trust me, Sinclair, you’ll get used to it. Now, let’s take a seat”
 - “So, tell us, Sinclair, where in Louisiana do you come from? What is your homeworld like?”
 Sinclair sat done in his couch which was surprisingly comfortable. Though not quite as comfortable as his own creation…
 - “Well Mr. Flickerman or should I call you Caesar? Louisiana is one of a kind really. Ya see… It’s a bit larger than most planets we inhabit in our Star Kingdom. The plant and wildlife is very reminiscing with what little we have here on Daonlathas. Or this so called amazing planet of yours, Mahogany, I suspect. Though the rainfall can be extreme at times, luckily our Neerian engineering prevents from it becoming a burden. Louisiana is a prime example of balance between civilization and nature. While Louisiana is famed for its industry, especially automotive industry, the nature of the planet doesn’t pay a price for it. We aim to keep the nature intact on our planets and not to destroy it. In many ways contrasting people live on it as we have massive factory complexes and yet still have cowboy herding nerfs around the plains of the planet.”
 - “Personally, I grew up in the suburbs of one of the larger cities there, Jacksonville. Right near the mighty Mississippi river which goes all the way from the highest mountain ranges to the ocean while crossing an entire continent. On those shores I grew in my carpentry family and my father and older brother, John, would take me along on driving trips and even a drag race here and there. Louisiana’s automotive industry specializes in muscle cars and our family had its own share of them. But at 10 years old, the Velutarian War broke out and ever since then I vowed to serve my King, country and people since then in whatever way I can. Most of my free time since then I devoted to train to become a Stoinian Marine. And now here I am.”
 - “I like nature. I’m sure our audience does too. After all, where else are we supposed to go on vacation? Ha ha! That’s an interesting balance you have there! Imagine that, cowboys in the capital! That would be hilarious!”
 - “A soldier and a patriot, I see…so, that fight wasn’t just for show, huh? Ha ha ha! You were a marine, I see. Could you tell us more about your service?”
 - “Now these are some interesting words you’ve thrown at us. Drag racing? Cars? Peculiar terms…could you explain what these are? Since you’ve mentioned the automotive industry, I’m guessing you refer to a category of vehicles, no?”
 Sinclair knew that he could expect such remarks. He personally hated it, but he was here to gain the trust of the Ryccian people and that is what he would do. He continued to smile as he joked around.
 - “Oh nature is for sure on Louisiana. As for the cowboys… Well… I can’t argue with your statemen as we sometimes see them in our cities. Though they are quite the cheerful folk. I’m sure the Vurbentans would find that to their liking.”
 - “As for my service… I’m not a man to brag about it. We had to do some things we’re proud of and some things we’re not proud of. We all answered the Lion’s call during the timed it most desperately needed.”
 Sinclair let is sink for a few heartbeats. If the extravagant Ryccian knew anything about social norms within the military, he would know not to further indulge in Sinclair’s past. He would try to divert the man’s attention to something else.
 - “Well… A car is basically like your flying speeders on wheels. You know those old round objects people used back in the day. Well wheels just help your main part of the car where you sit in to “hover”. Albeit through mechanical engineering. You see, we Stoinians prefer to have a sort of connection with the road.”
 Sinclair chuckled at the thought of it. Even a simple meaning as a road may not have much meaning to these people.
 - “It’s difficult to describe. Perhaps it would be best to experience it for yourself one day. What do you say? Is a race to drive as fast as possible in a straight line something for you Caesar? I think you might like it.”
 Sinclair gave Caesar a sort of devious smile. Maybe one day Caesar Flickerman would race against him. Sinclair quite enjoyed the thought of that actually.

 - “Oh, Mr. Sinclair, we are certainly aware of what a wheel is. Ha ha! Although it is curious to see such…pardon the expression, arcane technology still in use”
 - “Thank you for the invitation, but that’s not my sort of thing. Besides, clandestine racing in Daonlathas is forbidden, so I don’t want to burden your country by granting me asylum for diplomatic immunity! Ha ha ha!”
 In truth, the aristocratic culture of the Core worlds meant that racing was professionalized. Most people would never participate in such acts themselves, but racing shows were popular. You had equestrian racing, luxury speeder racing, and so on. However, in the frontier worlds, this “pedestrian” type of racing was more accepted.
 - “So, your “cars” have wheels that stick onto the ground. Very curious. It seems that you are a people that like nature and the soil very much. How do they fly for aerial transportation? Do they use some sort of special repulsorcraft technology? Do your “cars” use some sort of rocket?”
 Sinclair smiled.
 - “Well… I think we Stoinians have a preference for arcane technology. We just feel more… Connected that way.”
 - “Oh don’t worry, we have dragstrips dedicated for such a races. Indeed, I wouldn’t suggest you go down drag racing on the streets. Could you imagine the headlines?”
 The crowd laughed at the thought of seeing Caesar drag racing in arcane cars. Sinclair liked it, he enjoyed throwing something at Caesar instead of always being on the “defensive”.
 - “Ah… You assume that they can fly… This might come as a shock, but they actually can’t do that. They can only drive on land and have no rockets or repulsor engines. And I don’t really see them coming anytime soon. It would make for one hefty legislature for our politicians.”
 - “Well, I don’t have the courage to break the law. A speeding ticket would be the least of my worries! Ha ha ha!”
 It was going well. People were warming up to Sinclair. However, when the Legate spoke of the specifications of the vehicle, the Ryccian audience, who had taken repulsorlift technology for granted without hesitation, was shocked at this revelation. The Stoinian ambassador had essentially admitted, although indirectly, that the Stoinians were inferior, at least on technology.
 This was a known fact by the higher-ups in the government and the savvy news reader who consumed media as if it were dogma to do so. But for the average Ryccian, who was concerned with domestic issues and who saw the Stoinians as a distant curiosity, this was a surprise. Perhaps they had heard a minor headline or two about it on the news, but to hear it straight from the mouth of the Stoinian ambassador on late-night holovision was “revealing” indeed. The more xenophobic share of the interstellar viewership only saw vindication on their beliefs. These Stoinians are truly barbarian scum stuck in the ancient Petroleum Age. To them, it was a miracle that these savages had attained spaceflight in the first place. The more “condescending internationalist” part of the citizenry also saw their beliefs vindicated. These poor souls were barbaric due to their technological backwardness. They require guidance and instruction from the superior and enlightened Ryccian Empire, surely!
 Flickerman was no fool. He had not been interviewing politicians for years because he was an idiot. Secretly, this entire event had been covertly staged by supporters of closer economic ties between the Ryccians and the Stoinians. Various economic titans had begged or pressured the NIN to make the Stoinians more relatable through interviews like these. This public admittance of inferiority could subconsciously reinforce xenophobic and/or supremacist ideas. He knew his job was to subtly influence public opinion by humanizing Sinclair. That is why he tried to ask him about his career in the military: a heartfelt story of courage and sacrifice for one’s friends and family could move even the most fanatical pacifist. It had appeared Flickerman had gambled too much on prodding on this front, for Sinclair seemed reluctant to share these experiences. As someone with zero military connections or experiences, he had underestimated the Legate’s trauma.
 With haste, Flickerman tried to shift the topic to something else. Family, yes, that would do. That could do the trick. He had planned to introduce this topic later in the show, but he had to bring it to the fore to quickly move on from that.
 - “Well, tradition is important. Just like in every society, the family is a crucial tradition that everyone cherishes. Your parents, your grandparents, your children, and even the in-laws! Such fun and love for sure! Ha ha ha! Say, speaking of family, Sinclair, could you tell us a favourite anecdote of yours regarding your family?”
 Sinclair noticed a certain change in the Ryccian audience. He knew that something was off, but he couldn’t quite point to it. Flickerman introduced a new topic and Sinclair noticed it. Previously he might have thought of Flickerman as an extravagant idiot, but perhaps there was more to it. After a quick consideration he decided to follow Flickerman’s bait. He knew the Ryccians best and there was no malice in him. He didn’t push for his military service, which could only deter the current relations. Everyone could stand behind a family!
 - “Oh, there are plenty of them. Surely you can understand that choosing your favourite moment is quite difficult when you have a large family. But… "
That’s it! Stoinio-Ryccian cooperation!
 - “I suppose the most appropriate one would be one from just a week ago. My wife and I visited my aide, Foixon Perushan. Both our parents were there as well. Apparently both our parents had met each other at the ball in Princess Elena’s honour. They are both carpenters you see and had discussed their common interest with one another. Later that evening the finals decision was made. Both our fathers agreed to make a new joint carpentry company: Sinushan Inc… Bringing peace to the sector, one couch at a time!”
 The Ryccian audience laughed at the slogan. It showed promise and cooperation was possible with the Stoinians. Sinclair then would try a sly trick on Flickerman. He moved his body in the couch rather forced, as if he wasn’t comfortable. This was all an act, but one which may prove a good PR stunt for Sinushan Inc.
 - “You know Mr. Flickerman… This couch you have doesn’t quite sit well. I know a good Stoinian fellow and a smart Velpan who can make you a new one.”
 As Sinclair said those words, he gave a grinning smile to Caesar. He was getting quite comfortable with the situation and was willing to enhance the experience for everyone.
 - “How interesting. These chairs are of the finest make. You’re saying that Sinushan’s products can surpass even this high quality design? If so, do you want my father? I’ll trade with you, come on! He’s a talented man himself, I assure you, and if it’s that good, I want a filial discount! Ha ha ha!”
 Flickerman knew what Sinclair was trying to do, but it was a bit risky. These chairs had been personally crafted by a talented artisan, and the grade of the leather covering was beyond superb. One of them cost 850,000 credits alone, and more if you wanted it to be made faster. If Sinushan’s artisans were that skilled, then the pivot would pay off for Sinclair. If not, the wealthy customers interested in this new company could cause a fuss if their products do not meet their luxurious standards. Oh well, he might as well bite. If there are any problems, the Legate can take the fall.
 - “Well now, I’m certainly intrigued! I’ll take a look sometime. Say, I suppose that business is located in your embassy complex, yes?”
 - “Well if the interview with Mrs. Corgill taught me something is to never go full head into something you don’t entirely know. I have yet to fully understand understand your luxurious lifestyle and I certainly don’t want to diminish the artisans who made these fine couches. Sinushan Inc. is a fairly new company so it’s still figuring out the paperwork as of yet. Being one of the first joint Ryccian-Stoinian businesses, you can imagine it’s quite a new concept for both our nations. However, from what I understand, Sinushan Inc. will have a large selection of couches for all kinds of prices. From more affordable ones to even luxurious ones, perhaps on par such as these. Currently we expect the business to go public in a week or two. As for your father…”
 Sinclair pondered for a moment, scanning the Ryccian audience for a moment. He then changed to an enthusiastic smile.
 - Oh hell, if it were up to me I’d agree to your deal, but you’ll have to discuss it with my father. And yes the business will have branch in the Stoinain Ambassadorial Tower. I certainly look forward to have my people give you a tour when visit. The Vurbentan architect, Kaixgre Vuxotsen, I hope I didn’t butcher his name, certainly did a wonderful job of blending both Ryccian and Stoinian architectural styles into a marvellous building. So next time you want to visit a nice shopping complex, visit the Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower! After all isn’t it a beautiful small tower?”
 Sinclair hoped this would warm up Ryccians to visit the Embassy complex while praising Ryccian architecture and xeno architects. This certainly would also help the Stoinian businesses already established in the complex. A few words for an economic boost? Only time would tell…
 - “Well, I’m certainly interested! I think a lot of us here are, aren’t we?”
Yes, make the audience part of yourself. It was going nicely.
 Suddenly, a voice from the crowd.
 “You only butchered it a little!”
 To everyone’s surprise, it was Kaixgre Vuxotsen himself. He was in the audience and found it funny to interject.
 - “Well well, if it isn’t the architect himself! Say hello!”
 The audience laughed and clapped. The interview continued, and it was largely positive. Those interested on increasing international commerce were pleased. Now, all they had to do is wait and see if the propaganda bore fruit.

Ryccian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

 The Ryccian Foreign Minister was sipping her tea. Taun Liat, a Kaminoan female, had been one of the main architects of the government’s efforts to open up to foreign states. As she drank it, she reflected on her decisions. To survive, the Empire must start knowing about what surrounds it. And, perhaps, also what is distant from it. The Stoinian Legate had requested a meeting. It pertained to a conflict somewhere in their territories. What was it now? The Venterans sieging a corn planet? She looked at her datapad. Oh, the Venterrans, and Cornucopia. What a silly mistake.
 The Legate arrived to her office. It was beautifully decorated, with sleek black walls and miscellaneous items floating or affixed everywhere.
 - “Ah, Legate Sinclair. It is an honour to see you. Sit down, if you’d please. If you require anything, do speak with the robotic servant here. It can tend to a variety of needs. You may speak. What does your government wish us to discuss?”
 The High Legate had no times for petty chit-chat and expected a sense of deeper concern. His nation was now at war and had been defeated over Cornucopia. He had worked so much here to achieve peace and cooperation with other star nations. Just when everything had been going well and perhaps peace might be achieved in his time, fate decided otherwise. He walked in sternly and didn’t flinch at any distractions.
 - “It’s High Legate Sinclair, Minister. And thank you for the offer, but the situation calls us to cut out any pleasantries.”
He looked at the towering Kaminoan with a serious look and a certain fire in his eyes. Oh no, he didn’t want any of these Ryccian pleasantries right now. These decadent people… Just when will they start realizing this universe isn’t what it seems to be to them. Well, perhaps now they will.
 - “Minister Liat, As you already know, my star nation has just formally declared war on the Venterran Federation resulting their unprovoked attacks following the discovery of a wormhole in the Cornucopia system. The Stoinian Star Kingdom has been handed over to the military authorities to end this war as quickly as possible. Now, we request that you share any information on what you have on these Venterrans. Who and what they are? Where they are located? Those kinds of details.”
 Venterrans…these people were never heard of in the Ryccian Empire. Several scholars and government officials were, on the order of the Foreign Ministry, scouring through the ancient data sites from the days of the Old Empire. The Emperor had also joined in the search, assisting in these efforts from the royal archives. However, absolutely nothing of relevance had been found thus far .
 - “High Legate Sinclair, I am afraid to relay to you that we haven’t a single clue regarding these ‘Venterrans’. Their location, their appearance, their very existence…all of it is a mystery for us. Our scholars and officials are searching through various historical archives dating from the days of the Old Empire in order to see if we possess even an iota of knowledge. Even the Emperor, who has taken a peculiar interest in this dilemma, is assisting the search efforts. As of now, nothing of note has been reported to the Foreign Ministry nor to the government at-large”
 So they didn’t know anything? Nothing at all? Perhaps this was some sort of ploy to test the Stoinians somehow or let the barbarians be killed. No, I shall pry until I get something.
 - “Nothing? Nothing at all? I would expect the Ryccian Empire, the cradle of advanced civilization in the Sector as you put it, to have some knowledge on the star nations within the sector. Unless it means our calculations estimating the ends of the wormholes were incorrect…”
 Sinclair pondered for a few more moments. Perhaps they were telling the truth. The calculations could be wrong and the Venterrans were coming from the other side of the galaxy.
 - “Perhaps a first step is for the Ryccian Empire to help us confirm that the Venterrans are coming from this Sector, A1-0. We have limited readings from our travels in the wormhole. We calculated the other end of the wormhole, but a second opinion couldn’t hurt. If it is where we believe it to be, perhaps then your government can search more efficiently?”
 - “Our scientists specialized in wormhole physics and such can help you on this matter. We are interested in the whereabouts of these savages as well. The reports I and many in our government have read were bone-chilling, and thus we shall cooperate in anything you require. You must also recall our policy of isolationism until recently. Our state is grand and vast, but it had no interest in knowing from other countries that were not in its immediate vicinity, and refused to interact with them. Now that we are looking outward, the fog of this sector is beginning to lift, but it has not yet left our sight.”
 Sinclair took a portable holoprojector from the back of his pocket. Although sceptic at first, he had now grown accustomed to their usage. He clicked a few buttons and large projections filled the room. A section of the galaxy was cut out and focused upon. The known star nations to the Stoinian Star Kingdom were all given a distinct colour. The Stoinians were red, the Treecuu blueish, the Drakari brown and the Ryccians purple. The major powers of A1-0 as of current events. Sinclair clicked again and a red circle appeared south east to the Ryccian border. It was as close as 80 LY and as far 450 LY from the nearest Ryccian border, just south of the Imperial Rim.
 - “Needless to say, Minister. I suggest you no longer maintain such a hard stance on isolation such as your predecessors. From what we’ve gathered, they possibly are quite near to your own borders. The true size of their forces hasn’t been yet revealed, so we must assume the worst.”
 - “Wh-What?!”
 The Minister clearly looked shocked, no matter how much she attempted to conceal it. These savages who had used the spines of their enemies as weapons, who had attacked for no reason…were right next door?! Possibly even a neighbouring state…?!
 - “…Seeing that the situation has changed considerably, it is in our vested interest to take a more proactive approach to your predicament. If you would be so kind, allow me to download a copy of the map file and transmit it as an urgent message to relevant officials.”
 Sinclair couldn’t help it, but his soul grinned for a moment. Seeing a scared Kaminoan for once. However, his military training had masked him from even twitching his face. Perhaps now… Now… Will the Ryccian giant awake… Sinclair took a small chip out his holoprojector and gave it to the Minister.
 - “Given the situation, I will not oppose it. Times have changed now. Stoinian swords once more shall clash in battle, but don’t let the Ryccians forget this one, Minister. Your people have slumbered long enough, it’s time they took an active stance. For the sake of the survival of us all.”
 - “…We shall see. Time only can tell us our fate. We shall take this information into consideration and determine whatever policy changes are adequate for the Empire”
 This had the potential to bring down the entire political dichotomy of the Empire, even if the information could turn out to be false. The mass hysteria and sheer horror such a revelation would entail…Liat was already fearing an electoral defeat that has never been seen in the Empire. A tsunami of fear and panic, washing the pacifists out of everywhere. Liat had always been a pragmatist with an almost psychopathic zeal. She only cared for power and her standing, like many ambitious politicians in the Empire. She had prevailed as a pacifist in the polls. Well, if she had to survive, ideals could always be fluid. Intangible trinkets to feed the populace along with a healthy dose of charisma and speech. This had to remain secret if the government wanted to remain in power, at least for now. It has to.
 - “Anything else you wish to discuss or add, High Legate?”
 - “I think that will be all as of now. Perhaps as the war drags on we might come with more requests, but we’ll have to see if the Venterrans continue to supply this incursion. Let me tell you this, Minister. I have been in a brutal war myself, but even I fear what this war has in store for us. Being in such positions isn’t pretty at all. Smashing with rocks is one thing, but using each other’s spine as a club is something else. I fear what is yet to come. It might be the fiercest war, second to our War at Home. If it proves to be such a war, we will stand up and fight once more as our forefathers did. And if…”
 Sinclair stopped for a moment. The realization of what he was just about to say had shocked him. To lose his friends and family in the Star Kingdom, the very ideals he fought for… It was confronting, but he reclaimed himself. For the first time in his diplomatic career, fear could be heard in his voice.
 - “If we’re to go into the night… Remember us. Remember those worthy of the name: Stoinian!”
 - “Understood. You may leave now, High Legate. Have a nice day”
 This had the potential to destroy everything, and in more ways than one. The military high command was having a panic attack. The Cabinet was also having one, but for different reasons. This single file had sent shockwaves of unprecedented magnitude across the Imperial political and military elite. Now, the question to answer was: how do we deal with it?
 - “It’s too late for that, but thank you for the gesture. Minister Liat.”
 Sinclair then clicked his heels together in an alternative military salute. Staring into the eyes of the Kaminoan. Though fear encompassed his thoughts, Sinclair, like any other true Stoinian, would face the challenge head on without any regrets. For when the Ryccians panicked as how to deal with this, the Stoinians already knew how all too well. The stoic and persevering way, that made them worthy of the name: Stoinian.

Stoinian Ambassadorial Tower,

 The Stoinian Star Kingdom and the Ryccian Empire had both underwent changes in these last few months. Following the interview, Foixon had decided to press on with his marriage with Ferala. Despite the regime changes and the recent instability, the new Emperor lead interim government had proven to be just the time they needed to find a moment for their marriage. Sinclair and Rebecca had just returned back from Sheilan where his friend’s marriage took place. The Velpan marital customs were secluded and private. It was a miracle Sinclair was allowed by the Velpan grandparents to witness this marriage, let alone stand as an equivalent as a best man for Foixon. Now his aide was enjoying his honeymoon back home and Sinclair returned to the bureaucratic chaos on Daonlathas. His friend had given him a small sense of peace during these troubling times. However fate would have other plans for Sinclair. He enjoyed his morning staring at the skyline of Daonlathas when he received an incoming message. He wasn’t expecting a call this early and was surprised when he saw the encrypted codes. Purple Channel, the King’s own.
 - “Sir, to what do I owe the pleasure? How’s Cornucopia?”
 - “As well as it can do High Legate. I hope I wasn’t disturbing your morning skyline gazing?”
 - “As a matter of fact you were, but having your morning routine interrupted by our King is part of the job description I guess. Glad to hear we’re holding up just like in the War.” The King chuckled at his remarks.
 - “Well I guess it does. We’re giving them hell like they’ve never seen it before. You’re doing a wonderful job there on Daonlathas, but I’m afraid we’ll have to change for a bit.”
 - “How so, Sir?”
 - “You are to have a new assignment. Despite us being at war, we can’t let our plans for the Sector be inhibited. We must continue our work to become the powerhouse of this Sector if only through political means. To that end, you’ll be reassigned.”
 Sinclair was perplexed. He was here merely for five months here, barely enough time to grow attached to the place. Now he was to be assigned to another post. But why? Wasn’t he doing a good enough job? For all he knew, he was acclaimed as the role model for the Stoinian Legateships. No, something was different and he could smell it. Given the King’s gracious mood, he knew something was afoot. But nothing terrible. Perhaps something that can be a beacon of hope in these troubling times.
 - “Where am I to be assigned, Sir?”
 - “To the Meridian system.”
 - “Meridian? I’ve never heard of it.”
 - “That’s because it’s a newly claimed star system in the Tiyanki Territories.”
 - “The Territories? That far of in a secluded area, Sir? I’ve read the reports, but surely no Terran star nation there is in need of a High Legate.”
 - “No star nation indeed, High Legate.” The King smiled as he tapped onto a console, transmitting holograms. Soon a map appeared of the Territories and a star system was dotted in red. “This is the Meridian System, it will become our best hope for peace. I’d like for you to help us in that quest.”
 - “I’m not sure how a single star system could achieve all that, Sir.”
 After uttering those words, the King tapped again and a planet appeared. This was no ordinary planet however. It had a geosynchronous ring around it, connected by two equatorial space elevators. But even the surface seemed to have hexagonal patterns on it. It was similar to Kuatis, yet different and alien to Sinclair.

Epsilon Meridiani, the techno-organic world in unclaimed space in the Tiyanki Territories.

 - "This is Epsilon Meridiani. Vice Admiral Lupei and the 4th Joint Fleet Division have secured the system during Operation Farsight. Scientists so far have come to the conclusion that this world is a symbiosis between technological and organic lifeforms. Perhaps it’s even artificially created. Something they couldn’t have dreamed of in their wildest dreams. Though the “native” sapient species seem to be robots called the Galetrons. They act as the caretakers of the planet.
 - “Sir, why haven’t we eliminated these Galetrons then?”
 - “Sensor data has revealed a large data storage room. As of yet, we don’t know what these archives contain and don’t wish to harm them in any way. Millenia of history and technological data may be hidden there. We wish to investigate this further and the Galetrons have invited us to inhabit the ring. That’s why we have already sent a Fleet Division to secure the star system. We hope it will become a beacon of science, trade, history and even diplomacy.”
 - “Diplomacy?”
 - “Indeed. A central place where all star nations, big or small, can come together to set aside their differences. The grounds where diplomatic and warfare rules can established for within the Sector to uphold. A place where all governments can meet without sending too many representatives on long journeys to far away worlds.”
 - “Do any of the other star nations know about this system. Only the Treecuu Star Empire and they have accepted to keep this a secret for a while. Regardless, I need someone who can run this operation efficiently.”
 - “Me.”
 - “Exactly. You have proven to be the best diplomat our realm can offer. However, it isn’t simply a diplomatic mission. I want the exterior of the ring to be retrofitted to dock our ships and act as a shipyard. It will operate as a dockyard for our Star Kingdom to exert influence in the Territories and our new allies in the Kezimite Kingdom and Dunedari Free-Standings. If the Venterrans should arrive there, then we should still fulfil our Stoinian duty as Protectors.”
 - “I doubt the other governments would agree that a shipyard would make a fitting place for peace.”
 - “If anyone can convince them otherwise, it’s you Sinclair.” The King gave a reassuring smile to him.
 - “But… What about my children? I assume they can’t join me there yet?”
 - “I’ve discussed that with the Emperor of the Ryccian Empire himself. He’s assured me that you children will be able to continue their studies in the Imperial Academy. If they even have the slightest drop of the courage and will of compromise you’ve shown, they’re more than welcome to continue there. Needless to say, you won’t be able to see them for quite a while.”
 - “Just one question… Who will be my successor?”
 - “Legate Edmond Sallow.”
 Sallow was a good man. A diplomat like Sinclair despite being a battle-hardened veteran like Sinclair. He’ll make a fine replacement if not a bit more cheery. Sinclair looked down as he came to the realization that he had no real choice in the matter. His country had once again called for his service elsewhere and he would do the only thing he could do. Answer it.

Legate Edmond Sallow.

 - “When do I have to leave?”
 - “As soon as you can. Preferably within two days.”
 - “Thank you, Sir.”
 - “One more thing… The Emperor and I both agreed that the Ambassadorial Tower should be renamed to… Sinclair Tower.”
 - “Sir… I…” The proudness Sinclair felt in that moment was surreal. He hadn’t wished for any glory, but his name would now remain cemented in history. And on the capital of another star nation! The emotions overtook him for a moment. “Thank… Thank you, Sir. I hope I continue to live up to the name!”

Sinclair Tower,

 The following days were filled with bureaucratic protocols. The Ryccians were surprised by this sudden change, let alone Sinclair’s own family. However, Sinclair knew these were the risks of the job and was happy that his family could stay here on Daonlathas. While Foixon was away on Sheilan, Sinclair decided that he too should receive a commendation for his work. Without him, Sinclair would have long been eaten alive by the Ryccian journalists. So he sent a letter to the Ryccian Department of Foreign Affairs with the strongest recommendation for Foixon to receive a promotion. Who knows what this Velpan would be able to achieve now that thousands of politicians had been arrested. If he would live up to his species, he might even become a Chancellor one day. Sinclair smiled at the idea. Perhaps a dream to keep during his next assignment.
 On August the 21st, nearly six months from his first arrival on Daonlathas, Sinclair spent his last day in the spire wandering between the trees and markets. Smiling at every shop owner and bidding to each of them farewell. Sinclair would leave the way he came to this place. By giving a speech on the landing pad. However, as he walked from the central market complex to the landing pad, he was met with his staff all lined up through the hallways. All the way to the landing pad. Stoinian Royal Guardsmen to Ryccian aides, all of them had come to give the Legate their respects. Sinclair never could help but feel proud of his staff like they were his own men. On Reach, at the Line and now here. On Daonlathas, the city-world and crown-jewel of the Ryccian Empire. He was moved to tears by their gesture, but the Fighting Legate had paved the way for cooperation between the two star nations which once were at the brink of war. Sinclair stood behind his speech desk circled by the holo-cameras. He gave them a smile before straightening his dress uniform and looking at the crowd with a high chin.
 - “People of Daonlathas and the Ryccian Empire. I, High Legate Jeffrey David Sinclair, must finally part ways with you. I came here to better understand your people and now that my country calls me elsewhere, I cannot help but miss this place. From the beautiful skylines to my visit to the Imperial Senate, it has all been a wonderful experience. An experience that I hope more of my people will come to learn. For despite our differences, we are still much alike. Terran and otherwise. We can learn much from one another, even in these troubling times. Both our peoples are strong and we will persevere. I know the Ryccian people is in shock, but I have complete faith in you. Yes, even the journalists who can be annoying at times, to do what each of you must do. These times call for all of you to be what you were meant to be: Ryccian. The government may seem in shambles, but you, the Ryccian people still can help repair the damage. You’re all in a position of uncertainty. Though I have one bit of advice, if my words have gained any meaning during my stay here. Follow the path of your Emperor, for he has no ill will to you. Look to him for guidance and whenever you are in doubt of what it means to be Ryccian. As I, a battle-hardened Stoinian, bid my farewell, I salute you all, not as a Terran, Kaminoan, Velpan or even Uraktiksak. But as a Ryccian.”
 Sinclair followed his words with the Ryccian salute, moving his hand from his chest to his front. As a military man he felt he still should salute, but wished not to give the Ryccian people a message from the past. Instead he showed them his will to change in the hope that they might see it as a symbol of cooperation. A symbol he wished to keep alive as a preparation for his next assignment’s success.

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