[2 BBT] Long Lost Brothers: The Reunion

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

Arzix-Constantinople Estates
Constantinople, Core, Ryccian Empire

 The mood was tense. Important government officials of the Empire were present, so the government offered to evacuate all visiting royals and nobles from the facilities, otherwise their stay would be subjected to intense security protocols. Some did leave, not wanting to bother with the increased surveillance, but others decided to remain. After all, this was a historic moment. Why not at least catch a glimpse of this foreign monarch?
 - “Is everything prepared, Maître?”
 - “Yes, Chancellor. The Royal Guards have arrived, accompanying the Emperor. We have all the provisions stocked and ready for usage. The culinary experts, servants and other staff are accounted for”
 The Emperor was in his characteristic ceremonial attire: an ancient military-style uniform with a red sash. Despite Ryccia’s aversion for the militaristic theme of the Old Empire, this outfit remained, as it had become so integral to the identity of the throne that the royals refused to ditch it. It was the tradition of the Imperial Throne, after all. Besides, the minority but hostile royalist population a thousand years ago would had never accept it.
 - “Here he comes, Your Imperial Excellency”
 Surrounded by four Royal Guards, as was the arcane tradition, here he was, the Emperor.
 - “Chancellor, is the King of the Stoinians arriving shortly? I am attempting to speak to the remaining royal and noble guests in the estate…”
 - “Greetings, Your Imperial Majesty. They should not be a concern if they do not disturb the state visit”
 - “I am aware, Chancellor, but I fear that the current security requirements are monetarily and physically excessive for this property”
 - “We have calculated the costs, Your Majesty. It shall not be a burden for our state, that I can assure you.”
 - “Very well, as you say…I am also concerned regarding the Royal Hunting Grounds in this area. Why are they to be utilized?”
 - “Why, for hunting, Your Majesty”
 Did he hear accurately? Hunting?! Such barbarism in his estate?! The Emperor was livid. Such an act of uncivilized cruelty in this house? Certainly not!
 - “Hunting? Why was I not informed of this?!”
 - “I did send the arrangements to your personal aides. Did they not brief you on this matter?”
 - “No, I have never been informed of this barbarity”
 The Emperor’s assistant shivered. He was shaking with fear. Was he going to be fired? But he knew this would happen. He did not wish the Emperor’s outrage to jeopardize the visit.
 - “…M’lord, we made the choice to not tell you of this fact in order to prevent your…premature rage…”
 - “Esquire Cindyn, I am infuriated with your flagrant disrespect against m-”
 - “We opted for such a course of action in order to protect your…image. To risk a state visit would be improper of our duties…”
 - “…I see. Honestly, Cindyn, you fear for your job security far too excessively”
 Marcus Cindyn, the personal aide to the Emperor, was then surprised by a message he had received.
 - “Uh, m’lord, the Empress Dowager is to arrive shortly”
 The Emperor was shocked. Mother? Yesterday, she was not even in the mood to be disturbed. Now she is coming here?
 - “Mother?”
 - “Yes, m’lord. It appears that she shall land soon…and there is her shuttle in the sky”
 The shuttle was elegant. It was a Lambda-class vessel, but it was made of the beautiful chromium, and an expensive variety at that. It was the default royal design of these kinds of transports to be crafted out of the purest chromium that was available on the market.
 As it descended, the Emperor ordered his Royal Guards to create a makeshift honour guard line to receive her. She disembarked, and walked out of the ship.
 - “Mother? Why are you present here?”
 - “I have come to be witness of this spectacle. I am indeed curious regarding this guest of yours”
 - “…You are here to honour Father’s legacy”
 - “…”
 - “He would have wished to greet a foreign leader. Late Father’s reign did not see his desires of curiosity for the unknown being fulfilled”
 - “…”
 - “Thank you, Mother”
 The Chancellor was emotionless. It was not due to some selfish lack of care, but it was simply a Velpan attitude. Unlike humans, the biological ancestors of the Velpans were solitary hunters who evolved improved social skills only in order to improve their chances at survival. As a result, Velpans felt less empathy than other species, with the death of a stranger that was nothing of note to a Velpan not mattering. If there is a high crime rate, for example, Velpans shall collaborate and advocate together not for some sense of solidarity, but for their own personal safety. Since coming in contact with other species, beings such as the Velpans, which biologically feel less empathy than others, have learned to at least fake their sympathies, as it is the correct thing to do.
 Many Velpans did feel genuine sorrow and empathy over the late Emperor’s death. But the Chancellor only saw the Royal Family as decor, ceremonial persons whose only purpose is to be a symbol of the nation and nothing more. Moreover, Louis had always been annoying in the Chancellor’s eyes, as his regular weekly meetings to obtain his royal assent on bills were accompanied with discussions Louis would initiate. For Ferul, the Emperor should only have looked nice and played his role in this traditional theatre. His son, the current Emperor Alexander, was even more bothersome, as not only was he a highly political person, but he was the first Emperor to ever voice his opinions freely. Such a taboo had already been broken by his mother, the Empress Consort of her day, but Alexander was the first actual Emperor in functions in nearly a millenia to do so. If only he just stuck to signing the bills as he was intended to do instead of talking on and on…the only good thing is that at least the Emperor was an ardent internationalist, which aligned exactly with Ferul’s political direction.
 - “The King of the Stoinians should be arriving shortly, Your Majesty”
 - “Excellent, Chancellor. Mother, do you wish to greet him?”
 - “In Louis’s memory, I shall”
 The Chancellor, the Emperor and the Empress Dowager then headed to the platform where the Stoinian King would land. Along with an honour guard, they awaited his presence.
 The Pelican holding the Royal entourage came down elegantly escorted by two Star Furies. The Star Furies soon broke off formation and in synchronisation they performed a twirling manoeuvre, ascending back into the sky. The shuttle doors soon came down and four Royal Stoinian Guardsmen exited the shuttle in unison and formed two rows. The King holding the hand of His Queen was followed by Chancellor Sheridan and four more Royal Guardsmen. The Royalty wore their crown proudly. The King wore his ceremonial military uniform, while the Queen wore a more streamlined red brown dress. The Chancellor’s was his standard work outfit, though decorated with a few Stoinian emblems on the chest.
The trio came forward headed by the King. They stopped a few meters from the Ryccians. The King spoke in His strong but low bariton voice, looking towards the Ryccian monarch with a small smile.
 - “I, King Andrei III Casarion, in name of the Stoinian Star Kingdom and its people, both Terran and Cheunh, greet you and the Ryccian people in peace. Mankind has finally been reunited and it is a pleasure to finally meet our Terran brethren. My wife, Queen Nynke, and Chancellor Sheridan are also extremely enchanted to be part of this historic visit. Let this visit strengthen our relationship towards a new and safe galactic order.”
 The King held out His hand, wanting to give the Ryccian Emperor a firm handshake.
 The Emperor saw them disembark. He was surprised to see how…ancient…the King’s outfits is. The ceremonial military uniform he wore was used since antiquity by the first Emperors. Perhaps they were also following arcane tradition?
 Moreover, he was surprised to see that his and the King’s clothing were incredibly similar. Many Ryccians had a theory on the origin of the Stoinians, believing them to be some lost dissident human colonizers from the ages past. They could not accurately guess since when the Stoinians began to exist, however. Some say that there must be a predecessor to the Stoinian Kingdom that was founded thousands of years ago. Others believe that the Stoinians are sincere in their tale when it came to time, and thus this was some obscure Ryccian colonization effort gone wrong, maybe even the central government is hiding the truth. But only a trickle of Ryccians trust the Stoinian account completely. The Emperor was uncertain, and, even after two months had passed, he had no clear idea where these Stoinian humans came from.
 He saw the Stoinian King’s hand. He extended his, and gave a soft, gentle handshake and smiled softly. It was the aristocratic way to give such a “weak” greeting by Stoinian standards, as, in the Core, these gentle handshakes signify the calm and peace of the actor, and that they wish to engage in rational, civilized discussion with a stranger. It was polite, if not a tad emotionless. More firm handshakes were reserved for close friends and family, as they are the persons you can demonstrate all your feelings to.
 As the Emperor shaked his hand, he was then surprised that his counterpart decided to exert that much strength in the gesture. Do they have such a communitarian society that every single human is considered their family? How strange…
 Still, he smiled ever so softly.
 - “Greetings to you, King Andrei. I am Alexander, Emperor of the Ryccian Empire and Sovereign of All the Races of the Realm. It is a pleasure to meet you at last”
 - “This is the Chancellor, Ferul Blesforn, and this is my mother, the Empress Dowager of the Ryccian Empire and Mother of All the Races, Euphemia”
 He bowed his head slightly towards the Stoinians, and proceeded to kiss the Stoinian Queen’s hand. In the Core, this archaic gesture was still practiced amongst the elite, and it was seen as the duty of a proper aristocratic gentleman to greet a lady in such a way to honour her. He then bowed towards her, bringing his right arm to his waist.
 The Emperor then proceeded to greet and shake the Chancellor’s hand, again with the same serenity he had done with the King.
 - “Now, shall we inspect the guard?”
 The captain of the Royal Guard raised his sword. In full red ceremonial armour, but without his visor, he shouted.
 - “Soldiers! Present arms!”
 The guard raised their arms as was ordered. The band was ready to play the welcoming military song. All that was needed was for them to commence walking and inspect the guard.
 The King also grabbed the Empress Dowager’s hand and kissed it rather elegantly. Afterwards he did a similar bow to what the Emperor had done. He had to show respect to such an elderly foreign royalty after all. Perhaps the Ryccians would also come to view that they were civilized themselves and not some mere barbarians.
 He then switched towards the Velpan Chancellor and gave him too a firm handshake, though the Velpan had obsorved the King and responded in the same manner. Was this xeno challenging the King? No. Now is not the time for such thoughts, he had to keep it to himself. It remained to be seen if these xeno scum had any good in them. For now, they shall be given respect. He smiled at Ferul.
 After the meeting the trio followed the Ryccians alongside them while inspecting the Guard. The King was impressed. Any Stoinian could respect such a military act. It showed that the Ryccians had something in common with the Stoinians, a sense of tradition. Though the few xenos amongst the Guard was a new sight for the King. He realised that sooner or later there would also be Cheunh in his Royal Guard. A future confrontation that he would need to prepare.
 The rifles looked like something he hadn’t seen in quite a while. Were these plasma rifles similar to those of the Velutarians? It was quit a sight, though he didn’t quite understood the chromium colouring of them. It looked quite ridiculous in his eyes. Nonetheless, they may be a step up from the standard projectile based rifles the Stoinians used.
 Uncosciously the King started to step according to the tempo of the band, a small side effect from all the parades he had done in his younger years. It was his style of music after all and he loved the military marches. He was glad the Ryccians hadn’t forgotten the type of music. The Ryccians sure had made an impression on the Stoinians. The band stopped playing and the King turned towards the Emperor.
 - “Your Majesty, as the military leader of my nation, I can assure you that the Stoinian people is impressed with your Guard and your Band.”
 He then turned towards the Guard. He quickly took a militaristic posture making a clicking sound with his heels.
 - “May these brave souls serve you and your nation well. As I am sure they have all proven themselves already. Ura!”
 He then gave them a small salute. How would their soldiers react to his small speech though?
 - “What will be our next course of action, your Majesty?”
 He asked with a small smile on his face.
 Ferul was not fooled by that smile. He knew far too much to deduce that this foreign monarch looked at him as below humans. It was frustrating, but if he had let his emotions take control, he would not be the Chancellor. Thus, he smiled as well, as was the custom.
 The Emperor was not amused, but he chose to ignore his thoughts and act normally. Certainly he was proud that the Stoinians, who were certainly a militaristic people, had liked his country’s tradition, but their King had utilized an ancient salute that was associated with the Old Empire. The Ryccian military salute of the present was just to raise your fist to remember the martyrs of the revolution and their struggle. The gesture that Andrei had used was one of those utilized by the Old Imperial military, and was viewed as offensive and humanocentric. The Emperor and much of the Guard let it slide, as it was clear that Andrei had no clue what a faux pas he had done. Moreover, those who had studied ancient Ryccian history knew that this salute did not have any racist origin, and as the symbol of tradition, the Emperor knew it. So, this was ignored. But it was still offensive.
 - “King Andrei, we are now to observe the playing of our respective national anthems. They are to play our hymn shortly”
 A group of violinists and other musicians gathered to begin playing. They began, and every Ryccian, including the Emperor, raised their left hands in a three-finger salute and commenced singing the lyrics.

The Glorious Empire!
The Glorious, Free Empire lives!
Ryccia shall march ahead!
Ryccia shall remember you!
May we never lose liberty…

The Glorious, Free Empire lives!

The Glorious Empire!
The Glorious, Free Empire lives!
Ryccia shall march ahead!
Ryccia shall remember you!
May we never lose liberty…

The Glorious Empire!

The Glorious, Free Empire lives!
Ryccia shall march ahead!
Ryccia shall remember you!
May we never lose liberty…

The Glorious, Free Empire lives!
Oh, our martyrs,
Your sacrifice we recall.
We keep building on
your glorious legacy!

The Glorious, Free Empire lives!

 Everyone clapped, even the soldiers present. It was a song of remembrance. That all Ryccians must remember the fallen from a millenia ago, march on and build on the legacy of freedom they built. For they made the Glorious, Free Empire, and in their name, Ryccia shall continue to pass on the torch of liberty to every generation, forever.
 It was sombre for a reason. The anthem is meant to evoke that. After all, Ryccia must avoid war, and pay tribute to the fallen. It must never repeat the baptism of fire and blood it had to endure in order to be truly free.
 The Ryccian Anthem was beautiful, though it lacked energy that the Stoinians were used too. The energy that made the blood flow faster through your veins and made you move mountains. After the Ryccian applause faded, the Stoinian Royal Band which had assembled right next to the Ryccian musicians, began the Stoinian Anthem. The brass instruments kicked off and all Stoinian servicemen, including the King, proceed to maintain the Stoinian military salute, while the Queen, Chancellor and other diplomats put their right hands on their heart. The Anthem was played loudly, perhaps too loud for Ryccian standards, but this was the Stoinian way. The Ryccians had to learn that the Stoinian people could not be broken.
 After the musical introduction had blasted its way across the area, the whole Stoinian delegation, mostly men, began to sing the Stoinian Anthem: Our Proud Lion. A loud and strong choir of men had been born all singing their anthem. They sang in perfect unison about the struggles of the Stoinian people and how they made sure that Mankind will survive across the stars.

Aaah-aaah! Hear the Stoinian Lion’s roar!
Unbroken by the void’s threats, the Lion roars once more!

On Virtue’s paradise, our fathers landed!
Building a new morrow, never seen before!
When the time came to fight, the invaders were repelled!
Unbroken by the Void’s threats, the Lion roared once more!

Our people forged anew, worthy of the Stoinian name!
Vowing our sacred oath, Mankind at its core!
And to you oh Proud Lion, may you never become tame!
Unbroken by the Void’s threats, the Lion roared once more!

Aaah-aaah! Aaah-aaah!
Our Proud Lion roars once more!
Our Proud Lion roars once more!

Stoinians everywhere, claim your destiny!
For in our flaming hearts, we carry Terra’s ore!
Let’s answer the Lion’s call, by quashing savagery!
Unbroken by the Void’s threats, the Lion roars once more!

Aaah-aaah! Aaah-aaah!
The Lion roars once more!
Unbroken by the Void’s threats, the Lion roars forevermore!

 A quite provocative text for the Ryccians, but they hadn’t seen what horrors were to the southern border of the Star Kingdom. They wouldn’t understand, yet. During the song a few Stoinians shed a tear, amongst them the Queen herself. The powerful anthem had ended, but that wasn’t the last of the Stoinians. They proceeded with their Stoinian Salute, all in unison.
 - “Hail Casaria! Hail to the King! Ura!”
 No applause, just silence for a few seconds. After which the Stoinians returned to their normal posture.
 King Andrei turned towards the Emperor, though his facial expression didn’t reveal anything. Just a blank neutral stare. Perhaps letting the Stoinian Anthem sink in it’s meaning? He finally opened his mouth.
 - “Your Majesty, your anthem sure was beautiful. I can only hope to discover more of these Ryccian compositions. That wouldn’t be a problem, would it?”
 The Chancellor was stunned. This was live on national holovision! What horrors would the opposition be unleashing against his government now?! Non-stop slander! “Ferul is a racist”, “Human supremacist government”, “Ferul tolerates racism”, “Hypocrite Ferul”, “Weak Ferul refuses to stand against explicit human supremacy” and a myriad of other worthless accusations that have no merit! Accusations that some gullible voters shall eat up…this is going to be a headache to clear up. It is certainly manageable, but still, how frustrating!
 Of course, he did not show his annoyance. His face was normal. But many were shocked. For those whose emotions manifested into expression, many just demonstrated signs of annoyance or awkwardness, but a few did let their feelings slip into their faces, and thus were genuinely astonished or even horrified.
 The Emperor was insistent on clearing up this issue, most certainly. He knew that the Stoinians meant their military salute as an innocent, even patriotic gesture. After all, there was evidence demonstrating that this salute had been human custom, even before the days of the Old Empire, when Daonlathas only extended its reach in its planet and humans were not enslaved by those mysterious aliens that made them so xenophobic in the distant past. Thus, how could the Stoinians ever believe that it was such a forbidden taboo?
 - “King Andrei, in your guest room, I believe there is a holocomputer installed for you to utilize. I do suggest that you make use of the state-funded National Database Center’s website, as it is a sort of digital library and encyclopedia for all sorts of material. You may find entire articles detailing the music genres of all recorded races across the millenia, or sound files to delight your ears. As it is expensive to purchase the rights of viewership from existing authors on such a vast scale, the NDC requires you to pay a small fee to access the more recent scholarly and extensive items in its registry, but we have thought in advance and purchased a maximum of 1,000 items if you so desire to make use of the NDC’s banks of knowledge and files of all sorts. If you do not wish to be bothered by such large readings and only look for a general entry, there are various non-state, free digital encyclopedias for you to access, such as Wikipedia, Imperial Wiki or the National Wiki of the Ryccian Empire. If you so desire to search for our nation’s music, you are free to do so by searching the holonet for such information”
 - “In addition, there are music streaming platforms as well. The genre of our anthem is known as “Violinistic Classical”, renowned for its primary use of violins in musical compositions. You may opt to look for the more general “Classical” category. Whenever we eat or have a ceremony together, music shall be performed as a background filler, so if you do not wish to bother with our technologies, you may choose to listen to our music at these times”
 - “There is a matter that I wish to clarify before we depart to greet Imperial officials of all kinds: I do request that you do not perform your military salute to any Ryccian in the periphery. You are unaware of this, and thus we forgive you, but your salute was the exact type the Old Empire’s military utilized, and thus to perform it today outside of a historical re-enactment brings back the painful history of oppression, brutality and outright genocide the human race was tragically involved in until a millenia ago. It is, frankly, a taboo. If you were a Ryccian, you would have committed character suicide by doing such a gesture. Out of deference to you, your people and your anthem, I did not comment on this matter before your hymn was performed, but I must do so now in order to alert you to this sensitive issue”

1 Like

 The King gave a smile. He was happy to see this Ryccians hospitality, now was the time to learn more from them. He was certain to check a few of the news sources and get an insight of what the Ryccians thought about them. Of course while listening to Ryccian music.
 - “I thank you very much. It prove a wonderful method to learn more about your people. Though I am not a great fan of the violin, I can appreciate its beauty. Would there be music more reminiscing of the style our Royal Band?”
 He looked a bit confused when the Emperor told him about the salute. Again the Ryccians proved to be sensitive. Wouldn’t they learn that their past mistakes was done by their ancestors, not themselves? Maybe this was some sort of reparation that he didn’t understand, yet.
 - “I am sorry to hear that. You mentioned the Old Empire, I will take full responsibility for the actions taken by our delegation. I understand no Ryccian would want to be associated with that time period. I will state an apology at the beginning of my press conference. If that isn’t too late for you or your government. I wouldn’t want to discredit your government nor destabilize it. Though perhaps some assistance is required as to not further damage our relations.”
 - “Hmm…if my suspicions are accurate, this is a military-style song of some sort? Perhaps you may browse Ryccian military musical arrangements or ancient anthems in the holonet, although I do not suggest the latter…”
 - “I regret to inform you that we shall not be performing such…intense music for any other events, as we opt to play calming, relaxing songs for our ceremonies”
 - “In addition, we are thankful for your consideration. An apolo-”
 - “I shall take over from here, Your Imperial Majesty”
 Ferul interjected before the Emperor could finish. He was the true figure of authority here, and he showed it. The Emperor was only a ceremonial figurehead, so this affair of when to give the apology must be handled by the Chancellor.
 The Emperor was a tad disturbed. Certainly he knew his place: he could not speak for government officials regarding policy, and thus he knew that the Chancellor was only doing his duty by interrupting. But it still felt annoying, as is natural of any person that has been cut off.
 - “The apology at the press conference shall suffice, Your Majesty, and as the Emperor said, we thank you for your consideration. There is no need to deviate from our schedule to apologize right away”
 This was as much as a matter of protocol as it was a political move. Ferul knew that the opposition parties must be cranking up empty accusation after empty accusation in social media and in the news right now. He would let them have their little media circus. After all, their jaws shall drop in embarassment and horror when the Stoinian King apologizes to the entire nation for the misunderstanding. Then, he could spin the ridiculous moves from the opposition as the worthless attacks they were, and perhaps even spin the idea that the opposition has no concrete policies to bring the country forward if they criticize his government over mere gestures. Yes, play the victim, Ferul. Innocence is bliss.
 - The Emperor spoke once more after Ferul’s intervention ended.
 - “Shall we proceed to greet the various government ministers awaiting?”
 The Ryccian military band was prepared to play another tune as they approached the various ministers and military officials waiting to greet the Stoinian King. They were in a straight line, patiently standing there to meet this stranger.
 The Stoinian trio came towards the officials, the King wearing a big smile. Finally meeting more of his Terran brethren. Of course there were xenos amongst them, but he couldn’t hide his smile from meeting more Terrans. He felt as if he had found his long lost brothers, whether the this tale would end well remained to be seen. He gave each official either a firm handshake or kissed their hand, while the Ryccian Band played another march. The King was excited, this tune sure made things better.
 The Queen followed, while she didn’t shake hands she nodded and occasionally her hand was kissed by male officials. She was shorter than most of them, but that didn’t bother her. She herself was happy to be part of this historic moment.
 The Chancellor also smiled, this was an opportunity to strengthen economic ties. He had to make sure that their first impression was a good one. Although he didn’t look like it, he himself was a veteran of the Velutarian War. Twice decorated while serving as a Captain. He, like the King, gave the Ryccians a firm handshake. He was a man after all and head of the civilian government. Some might think that he is overshadowed by the King’s presence. But he is essential in these meetings, for he is ruling the government with the King’s blessing in his name. The King had power, but it was mostly related to foreign affairs involving the military or the military itself. The everyday government work, was done by the Chancellor, ensuring that the people still could elect their most influential leader.
 After meeting the officials the trio stood at the end of the line awaiting further instructions from the Ryccian Emperor. As the music had stopped playing, they were approached by him.
 The Emperor guided the King to some seats. Made of the finest Constantinople Mahogany wood with ivory handles, the chairs also had luxurious and comfortable leather covering, excellent for one’s back.
 - “We have saved the best for last, King Andrei. I believe you shall like this display”
 An Imperial officer in combat uniform approached. Unsheathing his sword, he shouted.
 - “Soldiers! March!”
 The Emperor handed the King a holo document, detailing the soldiers that would march shortly. A group of 40 soldiers, 10 in each line, began to march forward, led by a flag-bearer. TIE fighters and TIE Interceptors roared overhead as the parade commenced.

The Commanding Officer & uniform of infantry troops.

 First was the regular infantry. They sported a similar armour to the officer, but without the insignia. 40 soldiers of this type marched on while the band began to play music.
 Then came the Navy troopers. Widely seen as the weakest of all soldier types, they were meant more of as security for the Imperial Navy’s installations rather than an actual fighting force against real armies. In wealthier regions, they were seen as the weakest leftovers from the Stormtrooper Corps, as Navy troopers who came from those worlds were often failed Stormtrooper cadets.

Navy Troopers.

 The Imperial Military Police followed. Despite their light armour, they were competent in their role: a gendarmerie for the central government if the capital needed to enforce its law over misbehaving systems and as reinforcements for crime-hit worlds. They were extensively deployed in The Imperial Rim, so much so that the local inhabitants knew them as “Space Police”, referencing that these offworlders from space were regularly stationed in their worlds for extra security.

Imperial Military Police.

 The Scout Troopers were next. They were renowned for their elite sniper and reconnaissance capibilities. Lightly armoured, they were meant to be more agile than the regular Stormtrooper.

Scout Troopers.

 The pride of the army, the Stormtroopers, marched forward. These were the elite shock troops of the Ryccian Empire, and were the most common type of soldier used against pirates and small renegade forces in lawless regions where the regular infantry would turn to be unnecessary. It was a mark of honour to be a Stormtrooper, and they showed it. Despite their helmets covering their faces, an attentive person could notice their intense enthusiasm and pride, from their marching to their gestures.

Stormtroopers, the pride of the Ryccian Army.

 What followed them were the New Stormtroopers, a recent unit created 200 years ago. These were the créme de la créme of the Stormtrooper Corps, and their military pride was even greater, as the New Stormtroopers were almost fanatical in their defense of the Empire. When deployed in battle, exaggerated tales say that pirates instantly surrender, although educated citizens know this is just boasting from the army, spreading false legends to scare criminal gangs and other renegade forces. If any Ryccians came close to matching the militarism of the Stoinians, it was them.

New Sotrmtroopers.

 What followed them were the Clone Troopers, elite, purpose-bred infantry. These were highly controversial, as these clones were literally trained and indoctrinated from birth to be elite and efficient killing machines. Some suggested that their very creation was unconstitutional, as these soldiers are not usually permitted to leave the military, and thus the Empire denied them civil rights as sentient beings. Due to their intense upbringing and genetic modification, most clone troopers did not leave anyway, as they had an almost unwavering and fanatical loyalty to the Empire.

Clone Troopers.

 The next type of troopers were the Imperial Guards, fierce soldiers with black armour. These soldiers were often utilized to guard important government officials, albeit they were also a strategic reserve, should other elite forces fail in any particular mission.

Imperial Guards.

 The Empire’s Royal Guards waltzed on. At first glance, they may appear to be purely ceremonial with their red cloaks, but those hid their true battle armour. Their outfit was meant to be ceremonial and useful, as when they got rid of their cloaks, their fierce nature would truly be unleashed. Such fearless warriors protected the Emperor and members of the royal family, as was tradition, but, like the Imperial Guards, they also served as a strategic reserve for worst-case scenarios.

Imperial Royal Guards.

 Last but not least, the all-human, Imperial Mandalorian soldiers marched. Out of all these soldiers, only the Clones and the Imperial and Royal Guards could effectively beat them, and even then it could prove a challenge. There was a reason the Ryccian Empire paid lavish salaries for these troops: the Mandalorians had a proud and ultra-militaristic tradition that had not died, even after thousands of years of Ryccian dominance. Dressed in pure white Mandalorian-style armour, these were some of the best and fiercest soldiers the Empire could muster. “Death before dishonour” was a popular slogan amongst them, as they would rather die in battle gloriously than surrender like a coward to the enemy.

Imperial Mandalorians.

 All the soldiers in the parade were gathered in front of the King and the others seated. The officer took out his sword once more, and shouted.
 - “Soldiers! Present arms!”
 They did as ordered, presenting their various blaster rifles.
 - “Soldiers! Greet!”
 - “Greetings to His Majesty, King Andrei of the Stoinian Star Kingdom! Greetings to His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Alexander of the Ryccian Empire! We wish you eternal life!”
 They let out a shout. “RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”, they shouted in unison for several seconds, until the officer spoke once more.
 - “Soldiers! Move out!”
 The parade ended. They would be afforded a moment to speak before they were to board a shuttle that would take them to their guest rooms.
 The King enjoyed this parade. It surely was his style as the head of the military. Although the Ryccians looked very professional, there was something off. The uniforms and the plating wouldn’t really stand a chance against Stoinian ballistic weaponry. He thought and thought about it. Perhaps these lesser infantry’s equipment was better suited against Ryccian weaponry. Though that idea quickly was debunked when he saw the Stormtroopers. While some might find a certain elegance to it, the King thought what any Stoinian would think. Why the hell were they coloured white? What benefits does it have for an environment like this one. The King was stupefied. He could help but ask himself. However the best was kept for last. The Mandalorian looked nothing like anything the King could imagine. He sure would like to know more about them.
 Then the salute came and the King loved it. The greeting was very similar to what the Stoinians did witt their Ura. Though he still preferred their version over the Ryccian one. This display of the Ryccian Troops was nothing short of applause, though the King didn’t as it might be some sort of insult. Who could be sure with these people. He turned to the Emperor and he couldn’t help but ask.
 - “Your Majesty, this was a magnificent display of your troops. I am impressed. Though I find it hard to believe that your white armour would be effective in combat. Perhaps you can elaborate a bit on it? And please do tell me more about the last soldiers. They seem quite intriguing.”
 The Emperor was not really a man knowledgeable of military affairs, but, as the Sovereign of All the Races, he was supposed to know enough to be passable. He recalled what he had learned of the Stormtroopers, and he began to speak.
 - “As far as I am aware, this is the default armour of a Stormtrooper. If they require any specialized camouflage, we certainly do provide it by either manufacturing specialized armour or painting over the original design. However, if they are guarding any installation, serving as reinforcements for law enforcement, posted on a starship of some kind or if they are meant to be temporary reinforcements in arctic worlds, their white colouration remains the same”
 - “Those last soldiers are…how should I put this…renowned across the Empire. They are the Imperial Mandalorian Army, an unit made solely of Mandalorians, an ultra-militaristic and fierce human culture separate from that of the Ryccians. If you read the holodocument I have provided, you shall be aware of their tenacity in combat, and they would rather die in battle than to surrender like a coward…or something to that effect. To most Ryccians, they are fanatical in their devotion to their martial honour, but to them, such standard is normal. Truly an enigma…”
 The King looked at him. Really? Perhaps there was more to that armour than the King revealed. Nonetheless the Stoinians would remain cautious about wearing white uniforms in their infanterial uniforms. Though he was intrigued about the Mandalorians. He was quite astonished as the Emperor revealed the Mandalorian ways, the Emperor spoke as if those values were beyond him. Had this man not seen the field of battle? Does he truly know what honour is?
 - “Thank you I certainly will read more about them. Though might I suggest you do so as well. We Stoinians share, from what I have heard so far, quite a lot of values with your Mandalorians. Knowing them better may be a key in understanding us better. The Little Rascal Incident should solidify that.”
 He stared a bit at the Emperor. He wanted to make it clear that the Stoinians hadn’t forgotten about the unfortunate mistake by the Ryccians. This Emperor perhaps could learn a few lessons from these Mandalorians.
  “Let’s not dwell on such negative matters. Please lead on.”
 The Emperor had committed a fatal mistake. That is, of course, if you were a diplomat. To him, these comments were his opinions, and he was not going to alter them. After all, he would never charge wildly at an enemy. He would rather surrender with honour instead of getting blasted to bits. The Mandalorians, in contrast, would rather irrationally throw anything they had left instead of accepting the truth and handing over the sword. They would prefer to die than surrender to anyone. What kind of suicidal “honour” was that? If he had fought bravely, there is no shame in an honourable surrender, unless it was worse than death.
 The Chancellor instinctively facepalmed, but quickly pretended to be getting something out of his eyes. What in holy Velpus was he even thinking?! He should have known better than antagonize the Stoinians and their militaristic pride! Ferul was close to uttering an audible sigh, but he did not, lest it be obvious. He just continued on as normal.
 - “…Let us proceed to the limousine, shall we?”, said the Emperor.
 A luxurious craft fit for the aristocracy, the limousine was awaiting their presence. It would take them to the Arstine Palace, the glittering centre of the Estates, and where their guest rooms waited.
 They finally arrived at the entrance. There, servants were waiting, present to take the luggage of the guests. Dressed in professional butler black uniforms, these attendants were there to satisfy any desire the officials had, so long as it was reasonable.
 - “Here we are, the Arstine Palace. It is truly quite the ancient masterpiece, no?”
 - “In most regions of the Ryccian Empire, proper aristocrats have a servant of some kind adjacent to them to please their every need. Thus, we have taken the liberty of hiring one attendant for each of you. Introduce yourselves!”
 The attendants bowed to their assigned persons, each greeting them. In Ryccia, most wealthy persons had servants that would accompany them anywhere. Sure, you could have a robotic servant do all the housework and even be your companion, but there was a certain prestige from being able to afford an organic as your servant.
 The servants were not meant to be chatty. They would not speak unless ordered to do so, or if they needed to ask something of crucial importance. They were meant to follow orders, and only follow orders. “Bring me a glass of water”, “bring me that shirt”, “read this document for me”, “hold my shopping bags whilst I shop in the mall”, “buy this exotic food for me”, “turn on the holocomputer”, those sorts of things. To the poor and the middle-class, that appeared to be a dehumanizing experience. “Just shut up, be my decoration and hold stuff for me as some sort of mobile rack so I can be lazy”? Seriously? But to the wealthy, this was perfectly normal, more so when the salaries of these servants were exorbitant. The ones with the most lucrative salaries even hired servants for their own families. So was the case for the Emperor’s servant, the Esquire Cindyn, who despite appearances was a millionaire in his own right, with a wealthy family that hired attendants of their own.
 It was quite early in the morning, as the itinerary planned. The hour was 9:00. The officials would take a short break by installing themselves into their guest rooms and then await the 10:00 tea party.
 The limousine was something the Stoinians hadn’t seen before. Of course the King used his Guards shuttles as was tradition as the active head of the military, but even the rich elite didn’t quite use such vehicles. Perhaps it was due to these repulsor lifts not yet being heavily commercialised. Nonetheless the vehicle was very stylish and comfortable.

The Ryccian limousine.

 The palace itself was quite enormous, it even shocked the Chancellor. This was quite outlandish indeed. Not even the Great Royal Palace could compare to this one. Though it was quite obvious that the Stoinians were more down earthed than the Ryccians. Perhaps not when it came to monuments, surely the Ryccians wouldn’t have . Even if they had, such a monument would be considered an affront to the non-Terran races since they were that sensitive. The Ryccian Palace was a sight to be held for sure. It’s architecture somewhat resembling some Stoinian varieties.

Arstine Palace.

 As for the servants the Stoinians were a bit comfortable. Even the monarchs limited their use of servants, it was considered demeaning. A Terran was equal to a Terran, that even applied to the monarchs, set in stone by Alexandru I himself! Nonetheless after some internal bickering they agreed that they might best use these servant to gain a better insight.
 The King and Queen were separated from the Chancellor and lead to their respective rooms. As soon as the King entered the room he quickly took the bags from the servant and put them away himself. He had enough of this nonsense and he would make it clear.
 - “Servant, what is your name? What is the meaning of this service?”
 The Queen was shocked by the sudden action of her husband, but not surprised. She shared the same feelings as the King. It seemed as some sort of slavery on first sight. If this was the case, then the Stoino-Ryccian relations would sour heavily.
 The servant was stunned. Is he really an aristocrat, or a first-generation elite that did not comprehend fully the customs of the class he has joined? Why carry his own luggage when a well-paid attendant can do it for you?
 Anastasios Maidenne was a human from The Rim, a region that surrounded the Core. He came from an upper-middle class family in his homeworld of Girestone, and thus he studied butlery in order to make connections with the elite of the Core. If he could make an impression, he hoped, perhaps the Maidenne family could gain contacts with the aristocracy and propel his relatives into high places. This was a practice a few upper-middle class families did as a gamble to meet the aristocracy, and Anastasios had gambled well so far, as his cousin, Maria Maidenne, had been recommended by a Charlotte noble to work at a financial consulting firm in the capital affiliated with the House of Charlotte. Her talent was enabling her to rise through the ranks of that firm, earning the Maidenne family immense prestige back home and a presence, even if miniscule, in the Core elite.
 - “Your Majesty, my name is Anastasios Maidenne Blackrose, and I have been hired by the Ryccian government to assist you as your personal servant. Every reasonable order and desire you have shall be fulfilled by my person to the best of my abilities. I was merely carrying your bags as I was trained and paid to do”
 The response was formal, stoic and emotionless. Trained to not comment on anything else or show any feelings that may disturb his client, Anastasios did not bring up the fact that he was surprised over the King’s actions or words. He did not mention his curiosity over the King’s unwillingness to utilize a servant, or if the aristocracy in his Star Kingdom was more pedestrian than the elites of the Empire. He was just there to serve his employer, not to chit chat freely and thus waste his master’s time.
 The emotionlessness scared the King. Could the Ryccians have nerve stamped Terrans? No that would be against their ways, or would it? The answer he gave was more machine like, something the King didn’t like.
 - “Anastasios, is this practice common in your Ryccian Empire? Tell me you aren’t nerve stamped or anything like that which would take away your humanity. You are a Terran, you do not serve another Terran in this manner. You are Terran and must act like one. The same blood goes through both of our veins. I refuse to allow another Terran to serve myself in this manner. It stands against everything the Stoinian Kingdom stands for. A home for every Terran in which he can live in peace amongst his or her brothers.”
 The King took a short breath. But soon returned to his rant.
 - “I can only hope you are paid well for this. I cannot imagine a price which could convince a Stoinian to do such dishonoured work. Perhaps there is more to this practice than I anticipate. Please tell me more about yourself and this line of work. Show me that you are indeed Terran. Be assured that I won’t bite you for it.”
 The King looked inquisitively at Anastasios.

 Anastasios was puzzled. Why would the King, a high-ranking official in his own nation, be troubled by the use of servants, and fairly compensated ones at that? It is not as if he was a slave of some sort. This was not servitude, this was his job. Moreover, why did he ask for his personal details? Did he hear accurately?
 Only a few aristocrats treated their servants as people they wished to converse to, most notably the Emperor. Most only saw them as employees, and that the cold demeanour that was present in their field of expertise was justified by their considerable salaries. Thus, this confused Anastasios, and he dared not guess what the true nature of this King is. Did he wish to interact as a person, or was he merely appalled by the use of servants in this way and nothing more?
 As was demanded of his duty, he answered, as stoic and formal as ever.
 - “Your Majesty, the employment of persons such as myself to serve as personal attendants to affluent clients is a common practice amongst the elite of our nation. This is the exception in a few regions, where their culture was afflicted by mistrust and suspicion due to their crime-filled past, and thus the local aristocracy of said regions does not hire personal servants”
 - “I have not been biologically altered in any way, Your Majesty. Moreover, it is common knowledge in the Empire that my line of work is compensated handsomely, as it is quite expensive to hire an organic personal attendant instead of purchasing a robot manufactured for that purpose. If you are disturbed by my profession or if I have been mistreated, I can assure you that I am a willing employee, contracted voluntarily and paid fairly as any other worker is. I have been specifically trained for this career as per my own choice. My work, to be brief, consists of attending you in any way you need to the best of my abilities. If you require anything, I am at your service. Speak forth the command, and I shall heed the call”
 - “Your Majesty, you have asked of my background, if I am correct. I hail from the world of Girestone, in the region of The Rim. Speaking in the terms of interstellar travel, it is not quite far from here, albeit it is not a neighbouring planet either. I am descended from a family of upper-middle class persons, dedicated to white-collar, high-paying professions such as lawyers and doctors. I am not from a particularly noble or aristocratic lineage, as my family only reached their present status in the social ladder around 300 years ago. I coursed studies at the Imperial Academy of Servants of Ventus, a prestigious institution in my career, and thus I am highly qualified to suit any of your needs”
 The King still wasn’t satisfied. Though this time it was due to Anastasios’ answer. Was this some kind of informal slavery which was socially acceptable in the Ryccian Empire? Organic Servant. Did he hear that correct? What kind of Terran underappreciation was this? It is a good thing they haven’t altered him in any way. This alone would create an uproar in Stoinian society He turned towards Anastasios and looked him deep in the eyes.
 - “Anastasios Maidenne Blackrose. You will not refer to yourself as an organic servant in my presence as it insults everything we stand for. This practice of yours is quite disturbing in my eyes, however I will tolerate it during this visit. Make note that in any further visit I will not need any servant. That goes for every future Stoinian Official. And most importantly, smile a bit. It’s good for your health.”
 He gave Anastasios a small shoulder pad and then sat down with him and had a little chat with him about his career and family. Nothing quite detailed mostly superficial, though Anastasios was quite embedded in his professional protocol. Though he was quite shocked that the Stoinian Queen herself had served him a little tea. Half an hour passed and then Anastasios pointed out that they should head towards the tea party and so they went.
 Chancellor Sheridan met them underway and they both shared their concerned views on this servant practice. It will have to be tolerated, for now. As soon as they went outside they saw the great Imperial Garden filled with dozens of people. The Stoinian trio went to search for the Ryccian Emperor. They navigated easily through the populace, but there were quite a bit of abnormalities. He heard French been spoken, or a Ryccian variant of it. What in God’s name was this? This is something they hadn’t expected. They spoke an old Terran language, but they didn’t know where it truly came from. Odd and surely something to debate about with the Ryccians.
 Eventually they found the Emperor next to the Rose Garden. It was filled with white and pink roses, but no red ones. That was quite an odd choice, no red ones. Perhaps red was associated with the Old Imperial Way. To the Stoinians however, it was the most important colour. They approached the Emperor while chit-chatting in Sinaian, a language spoken by the Royal family, but Sheridan had learned it as well since he was born in the Capital. The Emperor was talking to a woman dressed in a flamboyant manner. Much more exaggerated then most of the other Ryccians, which by Stoinian standards was through the roof. The language they spoke was the same as earlier. So in full confidence the King started to speak in French, though it probably wasn’t as refined by Ryccian standards.
 - “Your Majesty, we have finally arrived. I greet you and lady next to you.”
 He proceeded to kiss the lady’s hand.
 - “I have heard while coming to you that some of the Ryccians speak French. A language spoken by a minority Terran population, though it has it influence in our culture. Perhaps you could enlighten us on its use in the Ryccian Empire?”
 Anastasios had seen something that turned his world upside down. A Queen, a head of state, serving him, her employee, tea? What in the worlds was this?!
 He spoke of his family, as it was clear now that this King wanted to converse. He did not reveal much, lest the King innocently divulge his family’s ambitions. What an odd pair…a King that talks to his servants and a Queen that serves tea to them…what next, the Emperor himself serving him biscuits?
 Anastasios hesitated to drink it, paranoid that it was some sort of test and that these foreign monarchs were creating a trap to see if he was disobedient and did not know his place. He took the cup, and…nothing happened. No screaming, no shouting, no reprimanding, no scolding, nothing. Just that luxurious Alshen tea going down his throat, held by a cup of the finest, handcrafted Juno porcelain. If the Queen knew how expensive Alshen tea was, she would have not served any cup whatsoever. Instead, she would have kept it all as a souvenir. It was pleasant to feel like an aristocrat, even if he was only drinking fancy tea for a couple of minutes.
 Then, the King told him to not refer to himself as a “servant”. Well, what is he to do? That is the title of his job, is it not? How weird…perhaps this was some sort of drastic dialectal divergence?
 He walked behind the King and Queen, and he began to whisper to his coworker that was attending the Stoinian Chancellor. They were both absolutely astounded at what had just happened, and the other was shocked that the Queen had allowed Anastasios to taste Alshen tea. Normally, they would not chit chat like this, as it was not proper, but they were confident that these Stoinians would tolerate it.
 They did not comprehend what language their masters spoke as they traversed the palace grounds. It sounded as some sort of…weird, garbled Tigonese? They knew this aristocratic language in order to communicate with more demanding clients, but even this did not allow them to understand their strange tongue.
 At last, they had approached the Emperor and the Chancellor. The Empress Dowager was chatting with her relatives. The Chancellor, being a Velpan, did not understand Tigonese. He had no time to study it properly, so he only knew basic greetings and a baker’s dozen of words. The Emperor did, and, for the benefit of the Chancellor, he responded in English.
 - “Salut, Roi Andrei. This is the Minister of Finance of the Ryccian Empire, the Lady Algenia”
 - “Salut, Votre Majesté. I am Lady Josefina Alicia Maria Litia Algenia Valois, Countess in Algenia. How do you fare in this marvelous morning?”
 - “Regarding the use of…French, you have said? I believe you mean Tigonese?”, said the Emperor “In any case, the use of Tigonese has a storied history, but in short, was spoken by an ethnic minority thousands of years ago, but it is now a language utilized by the elite for their conversations. That ethnic minority has not died off, as they have a presence on one planet not far from here, but no other place uses such a tongue anymore for native speech”
 - “Esquire Cindyn, s’il vous plaît, apportez-moi une tasse de thé Alshen, si vous seriez si gentil (French: Please get me a cup of Alshen tea, if you would be so kind)”
 - “Oui, m’lord”
 The Emperor’s attendant went off to get a cup of tea, as was ordered of him.
 - “Say, King Andrei, has your servant been of use? We did hire an excellent employee for this service. If you have any inquiries regarding this service, you may speak at your leisure”
 - “So far so good, Lady Valois. This is quite a palace you have right here. Might I add that you look quite Ryccian, especially your clothing.”
 He then turned towards the Emperor.
 - “How fascinating. It is the same language as our French. It seems you have taken the practice from Terra. As we ourselves did, it is a language associated with higher culture within our realm. Though It has lost its general importance. We ourselves have such an ethnic group. Perhaps your Tigonesians also are famed for their pastry? Like a croissant or a baguette.”
 As soon as he mentioned the word servant, he had a small burst of inner anger. Though nothing he couldn’t hide. Only snorted at the word’s mention.
 - “You see your majesty. We do not use our fellow Terrans in such a manner. We consider it a form of discrimination amongst our own. Which you should have gathered by now, we aren’t fond of. I already made it clear to Anastasios here, that upon further visits of Stoinian Officials they shan’t receive any of these … servants. Nonetheless, he has proven himself to be a good conversationalist. Do not worry, it was my will to hear him speak. Not his own initiative. You know they are people too and we should treat them as such. They aren’t soulless machines, for God’s sake.”
 He then did a Orthodox Christian cross a custom universal within the Stoinian Star Kingdom. Though perhaps the Ryccians could see it as a form of insult. Regardless the King did it anyway, he couldn’t quite care if it offended them.
 Ah, the famous croissant! It was a delicacy if prepared with the finest materials. In fact, Cindyn was coming with one right now along with the tea.
 - “Merci beaucoup, Esquire”
 - “As a matter of fact, yes, they are known for such foodstuffs like the one I hold in my hand. How curious, is it not?”
 As he heard the King speak of the practice of servitude, his feelings were mixed. He detested the cold and stern attitude the clients had with their servants, but he considered it alright to hire such a person. After all, it was merely a service being freely provided by an employee.
 - “I see…I am in the minority who believe that conversing with servants is adequate, and thus I am delighted to share that point of view. We shall take note of this for posterity”
 As the King did that signal, most ignored it as some foreign gesture, but the Emperor was reminded of something. It was something he read long ago…what wa-
 Wait, no way. The Cristians? Those still exist? The Emperor was surprised.
 - “King Andrei, you are a…Cristian, if I recall from those books? Does that ancient religion linger in your people still?”
 The King was astonished, he hadn’t insulted them for once. They spoke French and now apparently recalled the Christian Faith. The Faith most Stoinians held quite dearly and was pretty much ingrained in their society. And above that, they also had croissants? They truly were their lost brethren.
 - “I believe you mean the Christians. And yes, I myself am an Stoinian Orthodox Christian as is my wife. The Chancellor is a Protestant Christian, a reaction towards the old Catholic Christians. These three variants are based on the Bible our Holy Book, though different interpretations are what divide us. Though after our colony was founded the Orthodox and Catholic reformed their liturgy, due to problems on our colony. It is quite ancient indeed, but not as ancient as Jewish and God let’s not forget the Buddhists. The last two are even more ancient than the Christians. Then there is Islam, which is the youngest of all those religions.”
 He looked at the Emperor’s reaction and he was quite surprised to see such an interest.
 - “We have hundreds of archives about all these different religions, perhaps we should send a few missionaries once an embassy is established? I assure you they will teach you all about these different religions in person. I only hope that Christians in your Empire aren’t associated with any old Imperial Religious Crusades like there used to be back on Terra. It’s a good thing those dark ages are long past us.”
 Buudism? He had heard of Eeslam (OOC: Islam) before, but not of Buudism or Juwish. And what in the world were the Cruseids?
 - “…That is the religion my ancestors practiced until 4,500 years ago, when it was forgotten almost completely. Records on these ancient religions are sparse nowadays. I would certainly be interested to learn more of it”
 - “I will make sure the embassy will have these Christian missionaries. I am sure there will be dozens of men looking forward for such positions. Their knowledge far exceeds my own. It is indeed to lose a religion, especially one so influential in ancient Terran history. Though I doubt you would know that.”
 He said with a rather proud tone. At least someone hadn’t forgotten their traditions.
 - “But while we are on the subject of religion. What are the major religions within the Ryccian Empire?”
 Religions? Humans had none in the present. There was agnosticism, atheism, spiritualism, star-ism…but nothing as concrete as religion.
 - “For the Human race and most other species, none. A few aliens do retain their religious beliefs, but even they are waning today”
 - “A pity. One can learn from it how to live or seek comfort from difficult questions. Not something to be thrown away so easily.”
 He let out a sigh.
 - “Now was there someone you would like me to meet?”
 Unlike most nobles of her social ladder, Josefina had actually suffered poverty. She recalled going hungry sometimes due to a father that was addicted to gambling and drugs. He wasted their personal fortune, and when she and her mother pleaded their wealthy families for help, they were ashamed of being related to them, so they declined to even associate with them. She was intelligent, and thus did get a fully-funded scholarship to study at her university, but she had to work harder than most to both aid her family with their finances and to keep her grades sufficient enough for her scholarship. As a result, she alone regained her immediate family’s socioeconomic status, something her mother was forever grateful for. Her father had already died due to drug overdose, but, on his last day in the hospital, he thanked her and begged her to forgive him. Despite it all, the crippling debt, the social humiliation, the days they went hungry, all that work she had to do to recover what he had lost…she did. He died in peace.
 Josefina internally was close to breaking in fury when the King called her “Lady Valois”, as she hated her maternal extended family the most. She understood that, with her long name, the King may have misunderstood and interpreted her first surname as “Valois”, but it was “Algenia”. The Valois were not even nobles. They were Tigonese commoners, but they had struck it rich a few hundred years ago. The noble Algenia family denied purely out of social shame, and thus she hated them too, but the Valois went even further, with many of their relatives lambasting her mother for being an idiot for marrying her father and practically laughing at her face about her misfortune. If murder was legal, she would take the opportunity to hire assassins to kill them all. She attempted to hide her passionate fury, but a slight expression of annoyance escaped her clutches at that moment.
 She was happy to see that these Stoinians were more down-to-earth than her social circle. She was one of the few nobles of her status that did not have a servant, as she saw it as both as a frivolous monetary excess and a reminder of her family. A tear rolled down her right eye, as she remembered her father passing away whilst she was holding his hand, telling her that he was proud of her for working so hard and showing him humility, and that he was grateful that Josefina forgave him. She quickly wiped it off, desperately hoping none noticed, but she knew the King had.
 No time for personal feelings. Work comes first. She knew enough to be aware of her duty.
 - “Your Majesty, I greet you once more. I do thank you for the remark on my clothing, for it is the style of the Core. I do wish to converse with you regarding your nation. Pray tell, what economic activities are your people renowned for?”
 The King noticed Josefina’s small expression, though he didn’t quite expect such a response. Was it something he said? The title he used? He was confused and even more so when he noticed her tear. He he accidentally insulted her? The Emperor didn’t react as to support that claim.
He pursued to educate the Ryccian Finance minister with a rather proud tone.
 - “Let’s start from the ground up. Within our Kingdom we have dozens of mining operations, we also make sure that most of these planets if consisting of life, aren’t heavily affected by it. Or at least we try. Our mining industries are quite decentralized you see. It has become that on those same planets we have hunting reserves, though I understand that practice has become quite unpopular with your people.”
 - “From there resources are transferred to our industries, mostly ship building and infrastructural projects. Though I imagine ours aren’t yet as sophisticated as yours. But perhaps the most interesting subject is our ethnic merchandise. You see most of our planets are focused on certain ethnic groups, dating from Terra herself. They each have their own culture and thus ethnic musical instruments, clothing and different motives. They are quite affordable, nearly every Stoinian can afford those things. Though they are often made in more primitive manners than yours I assume. Nearly all products are made by a hand’s touch.”
 - “Another aspect is our agriculture. We have thousands of fruits and vegetables which you never heard of. Meats as well. Our most renowned farmers are the Boers, which can make nearly any inhospitable land, flourish with crops.”
 - “Might I ask what the Ryccian Empire is renowned for? Except the clothing of course. That much I gathered.”
 The Stoinians appear to be economically primitive compared to the Ryccian Empire. Entire species making handcrafted products? Most interesting. Now, handcrafted items are quite expensive, as artisans are quite rare and only sell to the wealthy, who have a penchant for this trade due to the prestige its products bring.
 The Ryccian Empire’s industrial capabilities were highly automated and advanced, and they could make use of foreign resources mined abroad instead of depending on Imperial reserves. Its agricultural capabilities were highly mechanized as well. A single family today could maintain a large field without much arduous labour. That is why moving to the frontiers were such a golden opportunity: if you set up a farm, for example, build it up with machines and robots and get the correct buyers, you can be successful. This had allowed the more established regions to have food, and lots of it, so much so that the gluttonous practice of consuming a large variety of foodstuffs and then inducing vomit to make room for food anew was gradually getting popular. This repulsive yet enjoyable custom was restricted to the banquets of the elite, but now, even the upper-middle class did so at special occasions. Foods even had their appearance manipulated to look similar to gems, metals, precious rocks, outlandish shapes, and more, although this manipulation was expensive and thus reserved for the aristocracy’s deep pockets.
 - “That is not exactly determined uniformly, for products and industries vary by region. In general, the more established and wealthier regions tend to be more industrialized and have excellent banking and service sectors. The quality and/or quantity of said sectors depend on the region’s wealth, which is why the Core, as an example, is renowned for its robust financial sector. The less developed regions, such as the frontiers, tend to be more rural, providing the Empire with a substantial amount of agricultural produce”
 - “What is the status of criminal activity in your nation, if I may?”
 The King was becoming a bit wary now. This Finance Minister was beginning to ask more sensitive questions. He knew the Ryccians would perhaps be shocked at the Stoinian punishment system, but nonetheless he would give them the full truth.
 - “Crime is what we consider very low, most cases are about small thefts. Rarely will there be a murder case, since honour is kept in high regard and our populace is quite armed.”
 He tapped on his ceremonial sword. A sign which might be interpreted as being a man of the people or a challenge even.
 - “Even so, the Stoinian Law is quite punitive against physical violence. In the most extreme cases there even are executions behind closed doors. You see all these factors add up to one another and thus create a very low crime crate. Of course our law enforcement is extensive and always ready to enact the laws if necessary.”
 - “However there is a higher rate of pirating in the newly acclaimed regions bordering the Treecuu. Though nothing the Navy can’t handle. We expect them to be swept away within the next month.”
 - “As for crimes within political circles we have an organization called the National Anti-Corruption Directive. They independent and quite extensive when coming to politicians. Of course this institution has been around for several decades and most of the corrupt politicians have been dealt with.”
 - “As for crimes within the Military, they are handled by the Military Police, which are deemed more direct when enforcing the Military Code of Conduct. In case you didn’t know. Our Military is run entirely independent from our civilian government. Headed by myself.”
 He said with a proud tone. Making his chest larger as to show all the medals he had fought for.
 - “I suspect Ryccian crime is more present within the lower classes of society. Would I be wrong?”
 Execution? Some worlds did practice it, but Josefina came from the Core, where all planets had outlawed the practice. To her, such a practice was barbaric, but other planets would see differently.
 Regardless, as an economic partner, the Stoinian Star Kingdom appeared promising. Low crime rate, robust mining sector…yes, to fuel the Ryccian industries. Perhaps a wealth of clients could be found in that nation?
 Josefina was aware that she looked tactless, asking questions about economics and policy rather than have an actual conversation. But it was her duty. As Finance Minister, she oversees the state of the Ryccian economy, and thus must work in its interests at all times.
 - “Interesting. Despite the frontiers being plagued from time to time by pirates and criminal gangs, the Empire lives in a state of relative peace, more so in the developed regions of our nation. Crime rates do vary by world, but often they are indeed low across the realm. Worlds have the right to set their own policies regarding crime and separate penal codes, albeit the central government may override them by laws passed by the legislature and set the national standards of said local penal codes”
 - “Say, would it be a possibility to open channels of trade between our nations? International trade appears promising indeed”
 - “Yes that would be possible. However your diplomats told me that your people wouldn’t want to trade with us because of our practices. We would be more than happy to strengthen the relations with our Terran brethren.”
 The King said, but waved his hand towards Chancellor Sheridan. He spoke in a more tenor voice opposed to the heavy voice the King, though he stood taller than him.
 - “Chancellor John Sheridan, Lady Valois. Given that such matters are more the speciality of the civilian government, that jurisdiction would fall to me. We would be more than happy to open such relations, but we would like proof that it is profitable both ways. If for example you were to get resources from us, but we receive quite little in return, then the Stoinian populace will slowly grow disdain for your people. It is important that companies from both side have something to gain. I can imagine our ship building companies would be most interested in Ryccian assets. For example luxury ships and the likes. I assume your economy is capitalistic in nature unless I am mistaken.”
 Indirectly the Stoinians were looking to get their hands on Ryccian technology. Perhaps their hyperdrive would be more efficient than the mere warp drive the Stoinians had used for centuries.
The other way, more Ryccians, notably from the Rim, could come and enjoy hunting vacations which would boost the Stoinian economy. Though this was indeed a grey area.
 Ship manufacturing? The Finance Minister only cared about the opportunities for trade, but she recalled that the military and some corporations would instantly oppose what would essentially be a technological exchange with a foreign nation they do not trust yet. The opposition would also object both to screw the government over and due to their suspicion of other nations. But the opportunities to grow the economy were too valuable to pass up. After all, she did believe in free trade as a mechanism for prosperity.
 Josefina was no fool, she knew what this implicated. But she saw a chance for trade, something that would bolster the Ryccian economy. And, if the Stoinians abide by law and order, their companies would have to pay royalties for any Ryccian technologies they wish to acquire for themselves. If these racists also have technology worth their time, the Empire only benefits. And if there is trade, her companies, under the management of her husband due to the requirements made of her office, would also benefit. She knew this conflict of interest all too well, but Josefina calmed her conscience by telling herself that it is not just her business that would have opportunities for profit, but the entire Empire as well.
 However, there was the issue on the populace opposing trade with such a highly xenophobic country. Josefina knew this, but she saw an avenue of hope. An avenue that she hoped she would guide this King towards to.
 - “Greetings, Chancellor Sheridan. Regarding your negative reputation on these lands, I believe there is a way to resolve this thorny issue that we have the misfortune of coming across. Apart from imposing regulations on Stoinian imports to placate the concerns of the Ryccian populace, I do suggest that you must lighten up your image amongst our people. If you do this well, I do expect that the opportunities to open channels of trade shall be greater. Thus, for the benefit of us all, the press conferences must go smoothly. Charm the people, and perhaps we may be able to grow and develop our economies in a fair, prosperous and mutual cooperation worthy of our nations to experience”
 - “Our economy is quite capitalist in nature, yes. Private enterprise is the norm in the Empire, albeit individual worlds do invest in their own state companies and have their own regulations. For example, there is a world that bans mining altogether due to environmental concerns and a dark past associated with the industry, and there are a few who forbid private industry from meddling in resource extraction, controlling all such processes under their own state mining companies. Our trade must be mutually beneficial, that is to say that our people, not our governments, shall be the main buyers and sellers of items that would flow between our nations. They must be the main agents of trade, as both Ryccians and Stoinians purchase what they wish from the other, and sell what they wish to the other, all the while complying with national regulations and laws”
 - “Of course, the intellectual property of our nations and people must be respected. They are the product of our people’s intellectual labour, and thus they must not be ignored. Those companies and individuals who have constructed our respective technologies must not be left without compensation, and thus why Ryccian companies would pay royalties for any Stoinian technologies, and vice versa. This is not set in stone yet, and we must see what our respective peoples make of these technological transfers that occur through trade”

 - “Indeed our properties must be protected. And we agree that we should let the market regulate itself. Of course with the right tariffs. We wouldn’t want to destabilize certain parts of both our economies. These can then decrease over time when our economies are ensured they won’t crash one another. However perhaps such details are best left for dedicated conferences. Wouldn’t you agree?”
 The Chancellor smiled. This Minister of Finance was more open to Stoino-Ryccian trade than what the diplomats had lead them to believe. Though perhaps she herself was over enthusiastic. It would probably be decided in their Imperial Senate, so a favorable image was to be achieved here.
 - “Your Majesty, I am sure there are multiple officials you would like us to meet. Let’s make our time productive with the others as well.”
 The King interjected as the discussion between the Stoinian Chancellor and Ryccian Minister seemed to continue.
 - “Ah, King Andrei, may I present Her Imperial Excellency, the Foreign Minister of the Ryccian Empire, the Baroness Liat?”
 Of course, he had to present her as that.
 Taun Liat Wei was a skilled Kaminoan diplomat and politician that had risen to the top of the hierarchy. Born to a poor mining family in a rural world, Liat was gifted, and thus she got a scholarship to one of the best universities in her region. Having pulled her family out of poverty all by herself, she had developed a massive ego towards others, seeing herself as great, wise and intelligent. She often hid her massive self-esteem when doing her diplomatic duties, however, as it was counterproductive. Moreover, she had an intense disdain of the Emperor and the Royal Family, as she considered them all rich snobs that did not deserve their status. She had worked to get this far, and they were born in the purple. For her, the only reason the Empire must tolerate their very existence is due to their traditional, ceremonial and unifying role. But they must only be that, a decoration, nothing more. To her, other than to speak of matters of ceremony, she would never take the Emperor or his relatives seriously.
 The Emperor should not have to introduce a noble himself, less a life peer that had risen from the commoners. Under the customs of formality, he would just say “Baroness Liat”. However, not only did the King not know who she was, Liat would be secretly annoyed if one did not refer to her by her title. However, since this Stoinian knew nothing of style and address, and because the Emperor wished to get on her good side, he gave her a ceremonial honour by introducing her this way.
 Still, Liat was a tad irritated at his voice. What is this decoration interrupting for now? Then, she saw why. She smiled at the Stoinian King, and only to the Stoinian King.
 - “Greetings, Your Majesty, I am indeed our nation’s Foreign Minister. I was just speaking to our Chancellor Blesforn regarding the press conference. How do you do?”
 If one noticed well, she was completely ignoring the Emperor she ceremonially served. Not a glance, not even a sign of her even acknowledging the Emperor’s presence willingly. And that, in her mind, is how it should be.
 The Kaminoan xeno was much taller than the King or any Terrans nearby. Though it was slimmer build than the Mardakii. Surely Kaminoans wouldn’t pose a physical threat to him. If needed he had his sword with him. No, it is not the time to analyse potential threats and how to deal with them. He had to make good relations, especially with his Terran brethren. He would go along with the xeno, perhaps something useful would be revealed.
 The King noticed that Taun Liat Wei hadn’t acknowledged the Emperor’s presence. What kind of snob xeno was this to not recognise it’s monarch. Had it forgotten its place? Nonetheless, he would have to leave this past him. Though he still felt irritated and as such, didn’t smile in return to the Foreign Minister. He held onto his sword and kept his chest forward while looking up to the Kaminoan.
 - “I am doing just fine, Baroness Liat. From what I have seen, you have quite nice Empire running here. I can only hope our peoples could visit each other themselves. You see, we Stoinian have a saying. Stoinian at heart, but Terran by blood. We left our homeworld of Terra to make an new Terran nation to ensure our species’ survival. But never have we forgotten our ancestral roots and thus have a duty to help protect all of Mankind, wherever they may be in the stars. I hope you can see from where we come from and thus we hold no grudges against your Empire.”
 - “As regarding for the press conference, I have made the necessary preparations, though I am still puzzled about a few things. Sure, I will address the imagery which we sent during the Little Rascal Incident, but would it be wise to wear this very cloak.”
 He pointed at it with his other hand. Revealing a rather thick cloak which was quite dense.
 - “It is made out of Mardakii fur. I am sure you are acquainted with the imagery of those beasts. It is a sign of high valour amongst my people, but I fear it may not be as wise of decision to wear it during the press conference. What would you suggest as the best course of action?”
 Liat was not a fool. She noticed the King’s annoyance. Humans tend to show their feelings of anger by making certain gestures, including the King’s puffing and realignment of the chest to appear more formidable.
 As expected. The Foreign Minister was subtly teaching the King that the Emperor was unimportant. The more he learns of who is truly in charge, the better.
 - “Your Majesty, if you refer to the matter of tourism, perhaps we can arrange a visa programme for our citizens. Applicants may request one from an embassy if this is alright with you. If you disagree, we are eager to hear your input in how we can perfect this idea”
 Upon hearing that the cloak was made of a sentient species’s fur, the Emperor was horrified. No matter how he tried, he could not hide his revulsion and shock over such extreme barbarism. His face showed as he went white with horror. What kind of twisted, bloodthirsty and sick “honour” was this? To skin your enemy and wear them as mere attire? How outrageous!
 Liat was better at hiding her disgust, and thus she remained unaffected, smiling.
 - “That cloak shall not be wise to wear indeed. If the populace is told that you wear the skin of a sentient species, it would be catastrophic for your reputation here. We hope you understand”
 Sentient?! They really had no idea. The crimes done by the Mardakii the horrors they faced, perhaps it was time to reaffirm them. Let’s hope they haven’t gone too soft.
 - “For the record we do not consider the Mardakii a sentient beast. Perhaps our message was incomplete and we didn’t mention that the Mardakii ate our people during their barbaric war against us. How can one consider a species sentient when the only thing they do is rampage and eat others? Though I can imagine that itself may be too harsh of a truth for your populace. Granted, I will keep myself to a military uniform as a show of goodwill.”
 The King scuffled a bit, but returned towards the matter at hand.
 - “We Stoinians have been founded with the purpose to spread out Mankind and ensure its survival. Any Ryccian Terran would not require a visa. It would be inappropriate in our eyes. However I believe that would stir up your other species, am I right? Though perhaps that would indeed be an advantage to first facilitate Ryccian Terrans before other species. Say your Terrans might lay a foundation with your values to allow other species to come … More accepted. As for our side, we will accept terms of visa to visit your nation for both the Terran and Cheunhian populace.”
 - “Regarding this matter, we would tolerate it, but our people shall never accept it. Our government should need to protest publicly in order to not cause internal outrage. Considering our egalitarian ways, Your Majesty, if such a preferential policy is implemented, I do doubt that even human tourists to Stoinia would be numerous due to the racism behind it”
 - “We do wish that a visa system be implemented for Stoinian visitors in order to regulate who and what are legally coming here”
 - “I see. Then perhaps it would be wise to drop those requirements. Though in return a visa system would need to be in place to check your populace as well. I am sure you can understand that.”
 The King was playing political games now, sure there would be outcry at home for allowing xenos to visit them, but would they actually enter? This was a question still left unanswered. The King could easily find a reason as to keep the xenos in Ryccia for the moment. Say high risk insecurity, this would be a valid reason due to the supposed racism. But the King suspected that Ryccian journalists would try to find out about these new humans from another nation. Eventually the Stoinians would get what they wanted. A first wave of Ryccians, or so he thought it could work. Only time would tell.
 - “Perhaps we should also think of a student exchange program. I am sure that by building bridges through younger generations, our peoples will grow only more united. Wouldn’t you agree? Baroness Liat.”
 - “How ironic”, Liat thought to herself. What people is he speaking of? The Ryccian people, a raceless nation united by their common brotherhood, or the humans, a mere species comprising the whole? How does he expect for the Ryccian and Stoinian peoples to forge ties if the latter detest the Empire’s own raison d’etre?
 He gave in so easily to her demands despite Stoinia’s racism. There has to be catch. Liat did not know what it would be, but that would reveal itself over time.
 - “Indeed. We shall permit for the students of both nations to course their education freely across our realms. An exchange programme shall work to foster mutual goodwill and concord amongst us all”
 - “Good, I am sure that we shouldn’t limit to just our capital worlds. Our outer colonies have also their reputable universities. This way you can see that we, Stoinians, are a very diverse kind of people. Would this also apply to your Empire? I am also sure we could also arrange for several universities in the Cheunh Ascendancy. Perhaps you will understand that we aren’t completely discriminatory against xenos. I am sure the some Ryccian journalists would be interested in this aspect of Stoinian society or would I be wrong?”
 The Stoinians would have to play their cards right, especially the King. His speech would need to be xenophobic enough for the Stoinians, but also inviting enough for Ryccians to come. For Mankind’s sake, they would do their best for it. The King had also learned a valuable lesson here. This xeno could be fooled and if they could be fooled, they could be killed. He would remember this lesson for when the time would come. The only real apparent threat right now would be the enormous Ryccian ships. As the head of the military he was already thinking of strategies to stall the Ryccians. Now was not the time for such thoughts. Though the King realised something that shocked his Stoinian essence.
Perhaps not all Terrans out there share the same values as the Stoinians, nor do they want to. It appeared that these Ryccian Terrans would rather continue to keep to themselves and their xenos than learn of their Terran brethren. Truly a blow to the Stoinian essence, but the question now was: do they still treat them as Terran? Or had they lost that right? That’s what the Stoinians would hope to find out with these exchange programs.
 - “Our brightest universities shall be intrigued by that prospect, certainly”
 - “Your Majesty, in our nation, there is an unrestricted right of the press. Our journalists may do as they desire in their duty to inform the Empire, so long as they do not break the law. They may be interested, so we request that all Ryccian journalists be allowed entry if they wish to do what they have trained for. Likewise, we shall reciprocate the gesture and allow Stoinian media free reign to responsibly report on matters of import in our realm”
 The tea party was coming to a close. Those gathered decided to continue these conversations in the botanical garden, as per scheduled.
 The Emperor was the most delighted to be there. He loved this garden’s beauty, preserved for millenia. For the rest, it was their first time here. After all, they were not Ryccian nobility.
 The garden’s white roses were renowned amongst aristocratic circles to be the most beautiful of their kind. A female human gardener native to this world was tending to the flowers.
 - “Gardener, please, you may excuse yourself from your duties”, said the Emperor. “Should you have any problem with your superiors, I shall personally request compensation on your behalf”
 The gardener bowed and left without uttering a single word. The Emperor’s personal aide left momentarily to inquire on the young woman’s name, but returned soon after.
 - “King Andrei, these roses have been cultivated ever since the dawn of our nation. Generations after generations of the Empire’s most marvelous white roses have been raised here. Many commoners have forgotten of this site, but to be present here is to breathe the history going back several millennia. Amongst the aristocracy, it is considered an honour to be here. The Empire shares this distinguishment with you”
 Right then, an unknown person entered the place. It was a human reporter. He had sneakily gotten past security. As the Emperor’s royal guards were inside with the group, they had not noticed.
 - “Your Highness, the Constantinople Herald, may I have a word?”
 Ferul was embarrassed and furious. Liat was, surprisingly, unconcerned. She had this happen to her before during a mediation between two worlds, so a random journalist trying to get an exclusive scoop did not worry her. As soon as they called, security would just expel him, and that would be the end of the matter. If anything, they were not the ones who must receive blame, but the coordinator of security here must. If this foreign monarch was angry over this breach of protocol, the person in charge of safety shall be punished severely.
 - “My apologies, King Andrei, I shall deal with this”, said the Emperor. “Guards! Remove this intruder at once!”
 The King held his wife’s hand as the Emperor explained the meaning of the garden. They were intrigued by it and could appreciate the effort and tradition put into it. Truly these flowers were wonderful, perhaps he could arrange to give some to his wife. It would certainly be a good surprise. Some seeds would be a wonderful symbol, though the current relations wouldn’t let it happen right now.
 - “Now hold on, your Majesty. I consider myself a man of the people and this is my first opportunity to speak with your populace directly. Certainly now that the image of my nation isn’t held in the brightest of lights. Besides as the monarch of the Stoinian people it is my duty to serve Mankind.”
 The journalist sure had guts. Something Stoinians could respect. Though in Stoinian terms, the journalist would have infringed the right to privacy by now and trespassing as well. Nonetheless this was perhaps a golden opportunity.
 - “I would like to have a word with him, if you wouldn’t mind. I will be sure to enlighten him on the precious grounds he has set foot on. Baroness Liat has informed me of the unrestricted rights to press in your Empire, now would be a good time to prove it.”
 He smiled at the Emperor and the journalist.
 - “We shall guide this man as we have a look through your garden, with your permission of course. There will be no need for an escort. If need be, I will have my sword. May we, your Majesty?”
 The entire group was surprised. Ferul ordered his servant to search for a glass of water. He was planning on how to exact his punishment against the chief of security. Liat was intrigued. This was unexpected.
 The Emperor looked at Ferul for a moment. Despite his title, he was only a ceremonial figurehead. Ferul nodded, giving his consent.
 - “Very well, as you wish. Guards, as you were”
 The reporter was shocked. He never thought his gamble would ever work. But it did.
 - “Thank you very much. Marcus Argenworth of the local Constantinople Herald, Your Highness. I wish to ask a few questions. First off, the Empire has heard of your nation’s xenophobia, but we do not know enough as to the exact nature of this behaviour. Do all beings in the Star Kingdom, irrespective of their race, have basic civil rights?”
 This journalist was direct. Something the King would appreciate, but he wasn’t in the mood for it. He went for the Rose Garden escorted by a guardsman from each nation. Followed by the journalists scrabbling his equipment to gather notes.
 - “Let me give you a little context young man. Xenophobia is defined as fear of the unknown. We don’t fear such things. But throughout our history we have come to learn the harsh truth, only the fittest survive. Twice we were faced with extinction by xeno races, first by the Mardakii when we had just barely colonised our capital world and the second time when the Velutarians killed my father and engaged in a 16 year long conflict. In such circumstances being wary and distrust xenos is only a natural result. What your Empire knows about us is only strict military protocol, the images we sent are used as intimidation tactics to send a clear message to not mess with us. Especially when someone commits an act of war. Also most high ranking officers are veterans from the Velutarian War and aren’t keen on xenos, as xenos have killed their King and over 8.7 trillion of our kind. I am sure you can understand where our stance comes from. Do you understand this?”
 The King looked at the journalist for a moment, but then continued.
 - “We aren’t barbarians as some of your people proclaim. If we were such barbarians we would go on a rampage and kill every non-Terran official. Clearly we aren’t like that and on the contrary, the Treecuu have even called us pragmatic. And one thing I have learned from the Treecuu is that such a compliment should be held in high regard.”
 Now the part of the right would become tricky, as some - even in the Star Kingdom - would consider the Mardakii in the hunting reserves as sapient. Though studies have shown otherwise, but the Ryccian public wouldn’t have any of it if they heard of it. The King was treading in dangerous territory now, he would need to be careful if he wasn’t to create a storm of rage about the Great Hunt. Shining the light on the Cheunh should do the trick though.
 - “As for basic civil right. We currently have only two sapient species in our Empire: us Terrans and the Cheunh. Which are nearly identical to us except for their blue skin, glowing red eyes and accelerated growth. These Cheunh have been granted the same rights ever since they willingly joined our Star Kingdom.”
 The King however wasn’t interested to be bombarded with questions all evening long. Instead he wanted a conversation.
 - “Now Mr. Argenworth. I have neither the interest nor time for just blatant answering for your questions. What I am interested in is a conversation. I can sure imagine this would give you far more insight and exclusive knowledge about myself and my people. Besides, what are our peoples need is a conversation where we can both understand each other clearly”
 The King headed for an elegant wooden gazebo canopy with a table and benches. The King and Queen sat on one side of the table and the journalist on the other. The King then took out a barisium cigar and started to smoke it. He made sure that no smoke was directed towards the journalist. Smoking barisium cigar was a common practice within the Kingdom as it helped relax people without any repercussions to health.
 - “Mr. Argenworth, would you please tell me a bit more about yourself. How old are you? Are you native to this planet? I presume you are to be of a middle class upbringing or would I be wrong? And what position do you hold at the Constantinople Herald? How about a family or children? You see, we can learn a lot from one another here.”
 As he asked this questions he took out a small portable ashtray to take the ashes of the cigar. The Queen however didn’t smoke out of principle, but said nothing about it to her husband.
 The Ryccian leaders looked in astonishment when the Stoinian King decided to abandon their conversation in favour of speaking with this random journalist. Does this monarch have his priorities straight? How disrespectful! None dared show their anger, though.
 Ferul was furious. This journalist had derailed their talks and their schedule. Productive time was being wasted. He would make the chief of security pay for this…
 The Emperor was a bit irritated, but not at the King. As a powerless decoration, he could not care less how the talks benefitted the Chancellor or not. He only wished for them to proceed adequately.
 Only one was not particularly annoyed: the Foreign Minister. Liat hailed from a background of poverty, and thus she looked upon favourably that this King would care about ordinary people. It could also be a ploy to gather information the Ryccian government shall not give, but none could stop this renegade monarch now. Whatever grave security risk this journalist may give could be dealt with his death for treason.
 For his part, the journalist was scared. He only planned to ask a few questions, and thus he only expected a light prison sentence for trespassing, but interrupting this event could mean that these leaders could exact their revenge by levying the prosecutor in charge of his case to seek the maximum punishment: he did not plan for one year in jail!
 The reporter was getting nervous. He tried to calm his nerves, but he was no politician nor a professional like a highly-compensated servant, so the anxiety was easily given away by his voice.
 - “Uh, Your Highness, I am 29 years old. I, uh, was born in Byzantium, the largest city in this planet…I was raised in the lower classes of Constantinople. I only have a girlfriend at the moment. Perhaps, er, I could reciprocate these questions?”
 Liat scoffed at such a claim. ‘Lower classes’, sure. The ‘lower classes’ in the Core could easily pass for middle-class persons in more far-flung regions of the Empire. In here, the local governments can readily afford robots to do menial labour, so those residents who do not have a job receive welfare checks from the government. These unemployed folks are regularly employed by the government to help the robots do their job or even supervise them. Food and amenities are in abundant supply, and the infrastructure is top-notch. There is even a government waiting list for subsidized fancy trips to places such as Anoreta’s lavish casinos or a three-day shopping spree at Moonlight District. Only a few planets had this luxurious lifestyle. If you are born ‘poor’ in the Core, you are guaranteed a good life wherever you go.
 - “Pardon me, Your Highness, I have received a notification. I shall not take long to re-…yes! I am next in the government list for that luxurious seven-star restaurant in Daonlathas I wished for!..Forgive my joyful outburst, Your Highness, it was not proper”
 - “Decadent as ever”, Liat exclaimed in her mind.
 The King was perplexed. Why would this journalist be nervous when he actually got what he wanted. the King smelled something fishy. And what was it about that government list? Were they paid by the government to visit the homeworld and become decadent? Had they truly lost their way. He would ignore this part for now and focus on the journalist instead.
 - “Please Mr. Argenworth, calm down relax. Do you know where we are? This is the Rose Garden of the Emperor himself. It is a place to relax and forget about worries from everyday life. It even hosts the white roses, cultivated by hand for millennia. I have been told that amongst the aristocracy it is an honour to be here and so you should consider it. I am sure once you get exclusive information about myself and my people, you would get multiple opportunities to visit Daonlathas. Or at least that’s what I would think. Now I will answer the same questions and prove that your time here is more valuable. And that you are safe.”
 The King then took out his elegant sword and put it on the table. The sharp edge was directed away from the journalist as he suspected he would jump at the mere sight of a sword. Nonetheless the sword was an elegant piece of craftsmanship with multiple decorations and flair on the handle. On the blade itself there were words written May thy be worthy of the name. After taking another puff from his cigar, he responded to the question.
 - “Well, too prove the exclusivity of this conversation, I am King Andrei Casarion the Third. Tenth monarch of the Stoinian Kingdom and Ninth of the Star Kingdom. I also hold the titles of First King of Csillia, the Cheunh homeworld, and Ninth Tennō of Shikoku, a religious title from the religion known as Shintoïsm. I am 39 T-years old and received amongst the best scholarships in Sinaia, our capital city. Even during the turbulent time of the Velutarian War, I was ensured the best of care. Even if I would rather have gone to war amongst my people, but as a monarch you learn that you have certain responsibilities which you have to uphold. As I am the King this also means that I am the head of Government, but also military. In contrast to your Empire, the military is run separately from resource gaining to the operations themselves. Here too I play an active role and helped by the Strategos, the highest non-monarchical rank. The role of the King is too serve as a bridge between the civilian part and military part of society. That’s why external affairs are mostly done by myself, while the Chancellor focuses on the economic and policies side of government.”
 The King smiled a bit for a moment. He now had to talk about his children, but he wouldn’t give too much information about them. Instead he turned to his wife who had remained silent all day and instead nodded at her to tell about their children. The Queen’s voice was higher than the King’s, but still not on the higher spectrum of female voices. Her voice was calming and tranquil. She was about 15 cm smaller than the King, but wore an elegant dress and had blonde hair and blue eyes.
 - “As for our children we have seven of them. The eldest is Crown Prince Carol and currently is single, so if any of the singly ladies in Ryccia want to become Queen, you know who to talk too.”
 She said it jokingly, but then continued as the King puffed further.
 - “I can feel the question coming, but why so many children? Well ever since the Mardakii War it became clear to us, Stoinians, that the children ensure the survival of Mankind. Some families even have up to 14 children. Children are also a common sight in our Kingdom playing on the streets. They also are healthy as we hold a 4 hour compulsory sport lesson, where they also learn about self defense.”
 - “As for myself, I am Queen Nynke Casarion, though formerly Nynke Lootsma. I was born on the Frisian world, as my name suggest, of Frisia or Fryslân in our mother tongue. I am also 39 years old and had a modest upbringing amongst the cattle farms of my planet. You might wonder, why the King would marry a commoner, well that’s actually law implemented by King Andrei I, commonly referred to as the Philosopher King.”
 The journalist still looked a bit stressed. So the King decided to do the unexpected. He took out the hand with his cigar and wanted to hand it out to him. He looked friendly, but clearly he was being a bit pushy.
 - “Mr. Argenworth, you still look a bit nervous. Why don’t you have a go at my cigar to relax a bit? It faces no health repercussions to Terrans, you aren’t genetically augmented or any sort of things like that, which would not allow you to share a cigar with the Stoinian King?”

1 Like

 - “Ah, yes the Constantinople Gardens. Many in the Empire have forgotten about it, but if you live in this world, you are bound to hear of it. I do apologize once more for my outburst, I was really looking forward to that notification”
 If the King was going to ignore the Imperial Cabinet, then so be it. Chancellor Ferul took the time to text the Deputy Minister of the Interior pertaining to some governmental affairs he had to resolve. Liat remained intrigued. In her electronic notes, she was scribbling down her thoughts of the matter, as well as anything of importance. The Emperor, with nothing better to do, remained attentive to the developing conversation between this foreign monarch and a commoner.
 For his part, Marcus Argenworth was recording this conversation for his piece. He was also interested in this King, as he took time from a high-profile state visit to talk with such an unimportant person. He was still nervous, however.
 When the King took out his sword, the Ryccian delegation noticed, most of all the Emperor. The craftsmanship of that sword was exquisite. For those raised in wealth and grandeur, they had an eye for these sorts of luxuries. A blade of beauty, most certainly.
 When their barbarian Queen spoke, the Emperor and Foreign Minister Liat were perplexed. So many children…how does the average Stoinian family manage to not be overburdened by such a colossal responsibility? How is the average Stoinian woman not exhausted of giving birth to so many infants?
 The Chancellor was not weirded out, at least initially. After all, Velpans have their numerous young in litters. He himself had five children from two of these events. However, he recalled that humans have their children one pregnancy at a time, and thus he too was confused.
 When the Queen talked about a law mandating their King marry a commoner, most did not care, but they did think it odd. Only one person was disgusted: the elitist Imperial Chief of Staff, Junius Igniae Gloria Navitas Heatherstone Valieta, Count of Valieta. To this stuck-up, posh aristocrat, it was anathema to marry a commoner of such low rank. A farmer from the middle of nowhere marrying into the distinguished ranks of royalty?!
 Horrified, he let out an audible gasp of shock, but his face flushed with embarrassment when he realized his mistake. Moreover, the Minister of Finance, who was next to him, got irritated and stomped his foot with her high heels.
 Liat was amused when she noticed Josefina’s little act. “Serves this arrogant buffoon right”, she thought.
 Those of the delegation who were born in the Core and in The Rim were shocked when the King offered Mr. Argenworth a cigar. Smoking in this day and age? How appalling!
 - “Um…if it does not harm me, very well”
 The journalist was uncomfortable with this. In the culture of his region, the Core, smoking had gone extinct hundreds of years ago. It was considered taboo to smoke a cigar. To drug one’s self into numbness was an abhorrent practice. Even if modern cigars did not contain any addictive substances, the cultural stigma built over millenia was strong.
 - “Pardon me, Your Highness, but, in order to be certain, how does one make use of this again? I am afraid I have no idea how to do this…you take that artifact and light it, yes?”
 The King took his lighter, after making a small cut at the end of the cigar. When lighting it up he held it between his thumb and held it at an exact angle. Truly there was an art form here. He then handed it over to the journalist.
 - “Now hold it between your thumb and index finger. Between any other fingers it is considered a slight taboo. The trick now is to not inhale into your lungs, although not harmful it isn’t recommended for first timers. Just take a small puff and keep the smoke in your mouth. Then for the most optimal taste you breath it out through your nose. You will feel your muscles relax and so will you will feel, though you won’t be intoxicated in any way. The Barisium is a special substance which doesn’t interact with the brain in any way, just relaxes the body. It also has the smaller dosages so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”
 The King smiled and joked.
 - “Perhaps if the talks go well, we could import it to your nation.”
 The probability wouldn’t arise though, the King thought. Probably because of Ryccian decadence, but nonetheless the Stoinians would be up to it.
 - “It is good to see you haven’t forgotten the Imperial traditions. We Stoinians can appreciate that. Now please explain to me about that seven-star restaurant in Daolthas. You mentioned about being on the government list. So this journey is paid for by the government?”
 The King tried to maintain his tone, but just at the end of it, it was obvious he was shocked. Were these people that decadent or was it a form of gaining votes. Truly the Stoinian couple were perplexed.
 Argenworth felt relaxed. This “Barisium” substance must be some kind of drug, but if the King of a nation dared to engage in this behaviour, then it must be safe…right?
 - “Indeed, Your Highness, it is paid by the local Constantinople government. In exchange for paying more in taxes, you can enter a government list that gives you luxurious amenities incurred by the government when your turn arrives. For those of us who cannot possibly afford these trips and items, it is a nice feature. The more you pay in taxes, the better your rewards may be. Only wealthy worlds such as ours have these policies, but I imagine your more opulent planets have something similar?”
 The King was perplexed. Somehow it felt like the government was gambling with its people. How could one do such a thing? Why give these souls a false hope at something and cash in on their hopes. This was a cruel thing in the eyes of the Stoinians. The King would have to be diplomatic as to not offend it. He tried to keep a straight face, but it was clear he was questionable. The same was valid for the Queen.
 - “This practice really intrigues us Stoinians. First of all, we try to limit our taxes as much as possible so that the individual can chose on their own. Our government is founded on the principle that citizens should be left alone as much as possible and leave the majority of the decisions to them. We believe in that individual right. Our internal markets are also quite competitive and so vacations are feasible for most of our citizens. It’s also mandatory through schools to visit our capital and Velutaria, to learn of the places that shaped us.”
 Now the heavy part would come, he tried to keep his calm. He wanted to call such acts demeaning and disrespectful. No, he had to maintain reasonable relations with them. He continued, but it was clear he was getting annoyed.
 - “Secondly, does your government openly endorse gambling? Because from our perspective it feels like the government is gambling with its people. Sure it isn’t in your eyes, but my gut doesn’t quite agree with that. Has anyone even done the math? If you just keep the extra tax money, wouldn’t you eventually get there? For the Stoinian Government to do such a thing would be considered outrageous. It leaves the fate of hard working tax payers by a lottery, an individual should be able to make his own fate. Not let it in the hands of any government. You also mentioned it only happens on the rich worlds. Wouldn’t this policy be better on more rural worlds, who I suspect wouldn’t even dream of such opportunities?”
 Once word of this got upon in the Star Kingdom, the opposition could possible use this as a justification of war. Not only had they already committed an act of war, they were influenced by xenos and their values and their government tosses them around as if they were dices. The Ryccians were shocking them more everyday. Nonetheless, perhaps the Ryccians on the rural worlds were more like the Stoinians. He prayed to God they were.
 - “Gambling with our lives”? That is not the case.
 - “From what I know, the government has no stance on gambling. There is a limit on how much people can splurge in gambling. You must carry a special card that has your allotted funds. This was created in order to prevent overspending in these recreational activities. There is also a maximum amount you can contribute in the state’s levies. That restriction was also created in order to prevent the people from overburdening themselves in order to increase their chances on the government list”
 “I have done the math, Your Highness, and it would take me my entire life to save for a trip like the one I wish to incur on. That seven-star restaurant charges a fortune for their dishes, not to mention that the elite accomodations and the stipend for shopping provided by this award would be far too costly for me. It is generally understood that the tax money not spent on the prizes goes towards the improvement of public infrastructure and facilities. For example, in my district, the local authorities managed to renovate a hospital and purchase more robots due to an increase in their funds”
 - “Only the wealthiest of planets can afford this lifestyle. Poorer worlds cannot incur on the cost of such a system. Some in those worlds even believe it is an detestable practice, but I beg to differ. How can we permit that the wealthy amongst us be the only individuals to enjoy the most luxurious of services if we can provide for all to have a chance in this modern age?”
 So this practice had its limits. Clearly the Ryccian government wasn’t as mental as he previously thought. Though his guts still weren’t satisfied, he realised they never would. This would be amongst the cultural clashes they would have to deal with. Perhaps the xenos are the easy part and maybe these twisted parts of society would prove more difficult.
 - “I may have been to early to judge this practice, I am sure it is well intentioned. Nonetheless, my guts still feel bad about such a practice. It feels wrong from our perspective. But if your people are fine with it and it is just a reflection of your people, than I don’t think it’s our place to dictate what you should do.”
 Hopefully this would fit well with the Ryccians. Regardless of that, there would be outcry at home of these practices. Though if directed well enough, it could be light in a different light, which would limit the outcry. It wouldn’t disfavour the Ryccians too much if played right.
 - “Well we in Stoinia have a different way in realising that. Or I guess it’s our mentality on what is good. You see everyone knows that the best food is made by your grandma and thus most quality restaurants try to mimic such recipes. The essence is not in the rarity of ingredients, but the taste is the most important. Although I imagine you would be well taken care of in such a restaurant, but probably too much for Stoinian comfort. We like to do things with our hands and we don’t like have someone help us with every little thing. That’s why robots are outlawed in our country, as they are deemed decadent in our Kingdom. Which again can be referred too our nationalistic traits we won with the xeno races that attacked us.”
 The King took another puff. Then pondered for a moment.
 - “I believe we both have a different sense of what luxury is. We consider to be basic things such as a roof over our head, a family, a partner maybe even a weapon to be luxuries. I guess the wars with the xenos have made us that way. When you lose a lot of things in such wars, people are bound to view basic things as luxuries. I think that’s one of the main different views between our peoples. I am sure this will be quite interesting for the papers.”
 The King puffed once more, taking the last puffs from his cigar. He then looked at Argenworth again and jokingly said.
 - “Well Mr. Argenworth, I am here on a state visit and shouldn’t leave your officials waiting. That tax payer money has to be used for something.”
 - “I believe you have enough information for now about us. May you enjoy your seven-star restaurant on Daonlathas, but never forget your roots. Be sure to write in the papers that we aren’t like the monsters you previously thought.”
 He sheathed his sword, finished his cigar, closed the portable ashtray and put in a pocket. He then stood up and handed out his hand, wanting to give the journalist a firm grip. Nonetheless he had a big smile on his face and so did the Queen.
 - “I wish you the best of luck. Perhaps I will see you again in a few days at my press conference, if you aren’t on Daonlathas by then. Good luck and say. What do you think now of your distant Terran Brethren?”
 What he thought of them? That was a difficult question to answer. Certainly the King was a nice fellow and he had explained a lot regarding the background of his nation, but looks can be deceiving. He did not know what to believe.
 - “Perhaps we should not judge a book by its cover”, said the journalist.
 Argenworth shook his hand gently, as was the custom in the Core to do so to strangers and acquaintances. He was surprised by the firm grip of the King when he reciprocated the gesture. Did this monarch consider himself a friend to Argenworth so quickly?
 The journalist gave a soft smile in return.
 - “Thank you, Your Highness. I appreciate that you took your time to speak to a commoner such as I. May the odds be ever in your favour”
 As security escorted him out, the Ryccian and Stoinian delegations departed for the inside of the palace. They proceeded to the guest dining room.

 - “Ah, I must apologize if the décor is ancient for your tastes. This furniture has existed for generations here, as you may imagine”, said the Emperor.
 - “Personnel culinaire, commencez à servir les plats!”, commanded the Emperor in French.
 Immediately, servants from the palace entered the room and began to deliver the plates. For the King, a vegetable soup had been served as a first meal. It was proper Ryccian etiquette to commence with a soup dish. The servant commented.
 - “Your Majesty, this is a Acaltbury soup prepared with the freshest and most exquisite vegetables and herbs imported from the planet of Juno. It is served for your pleasure”
 The Stoinian officials looked around the room. They were astonished, the style was near identical to the Stoinian Royal Palace. This was remarkable. Sure the paintings were of Stoinian struggle, but they can’t expect that from Ryccians.
 - “No, your Majesty. This architecture feels just like home. The ones we have in our palaces is quite identical to this style. Another reminder of our shared ancestry, I suppose.”
 The trio sat down. The King and Queen at one end while the Chancellor sat on the right of the King. As they were served they looked at the soup and realised it looked quite familiar.
 - “Merci beaucoup.”
 They said at the servants and some were shocked that these foreigners spoke Tigonese or French as they called it. The soup was quite peculiar though, it had to be a vegetable the Stoinians didn’t know of.
 - “Quite good your Majesty. Give the compliments to the chef. And again I am sorry if I delayed your plans with the journalist. It was my first time I saw a Ryccian commoner and it seemed the only chance for me to meet one without security risks. I am here to meet you and the officials of course, but also learn from your people, directly if possible.”
 He proceeded to drink more from his soup as the Emperor would answer him.
 - “No worries, I can understand the rationale behind your decision”
 The servants then proceeded to lay out trays of elegantly-decorated sweet pastries, jams and breads. Small cakes were elaborately designed to appear as roses, diamonds, and other graceful shapes. Fancy fruits were served in baskets. They also provided glasses of water to those dining. A pink drink was also served in a small glass.
 - “Drink not that pink liquid yet, King Andrei. That is for when you are full”, said the Emperor. “If you wish your fruit changed to a certain lower temperature, you may ask a servant standing by to cool it for you”
 The King was growing suspicious about the pink liquid. Was it used to vomit and make room for new food like the Romans did with feathers? Nonetheless he wouldn’t use any servants to cool his fruits, certainly the fruits were all right as they were.
 - “Then what is the pink liquid used for, your Majesty? I certainly don’t hope it isn’t the equivalent to the feathers in the old age of Rome.”
 The Chancellor and Queen both took a piece of fruit, which couldn’t be found in the Kingdom. Both enjoyed the exotic tastes. The Queen also inspected the dishes more closely as they were elegantly made.
 - “Rome? I have never heard of this place. But…actually, it is quite embarassing…this liquid makes you sick, and then you can proceed to consume anew”
 - “So it makes you throw up to make room for new food? Am I understanding this correclty?”
 The Chancellor and Queen now stopped with eating and turned towards the Emperor.
 - “…In a manner of speaking, yes…”
 The Stoinians immediately stopped with eating and put their food back on the plate for they knew what was going to happen next. All of them were disgusted by this practice. How could one justify this spillage of food. The King did a cross, then proceeded to put his elbows on the table and rest his face in his palms.
 - “My God …”
 The Ryccians looked confused at the King. What had they done wrong? All were looking at the King now. He lifted his head to the roof and held his hands together. He whispered.
 - “Please God Almighty, forgive me and especially these people. But I am about to tell them what they need to hear.”
 He then stood up and looked at the Ryccians who were confused. The King took a breath and straightened his uniform. He raised his tone, he was angry no doubt could be held about that, but his tone was gravely serious.
 - “So you mean to tell me, that people around your Empire live in poverty while you sit here and spill all this food? Just what kind of a stuck-up tradition is this? To serve your aristocratic needs? Is this what happens at the seven-star restaurants on Daonlathas? Is this what the government pays citizens to do on their visit on Daonlathas? Let them spill food for fun while other families struggle? Is this what the mighty Ryccian Empire has come to? Is this a tradition from the Terrans or taken from the other races? How can you do such things and not insult the very uniform you wear? You are embarrassed to say what the liquid does, but not by the act itself? How, in the name of every holy Saint, could that happen?”
 The last bit was pointed at the Emperor. Although by now it was clear that he didn’t have any real power, but he still felt he was a beacon of what it meant to be Ryccian.
 - “By God, I knew we would have different cultural clashes, but this can’t even be justified within your moral point of view. How can the monarch, or any official for that matter, sit here relaxing doing this practice, while your people are struggling? I thought the role of the monarch was the noblest of roles and to serve your people. Not sit in eternal luxury and enjoy whatever unholy pleasures come to mind. And it’s not just the monarch apparently, it’s all the other representatives as well.”
 The King noticed he had made a fist. He relaxed and unfolded it, but leaned over the table.
 - “Let it be clear, that we Stoinians will not proceed to do this decadent practice of yours. Our people have gone through hell and we won’t stand here while others continue this decadent method. Now tell me, will you show the Stoinian people how decadent the Ryccians are? Or show us that you have some form of decency and nobility in you?”
 The entire room fell silent.
 - “…Auferat a Roseven, statim”, said the Emperor in Latin.
 - “Sed, maiestatem tuam…”, responded one of the servants.
 - “Statim, placet”
 Chancellor Ferul stood. He attempted to calm the situation.
 - “Your Majesty, I can assure you that we have a national welfare programme designed to feed every citizen who is struggling. Companies that do not sell their consumable wares are forced by the state to donate it to the needy. These practices are reserved for those who can afford it. Indeed, even the middle class engages in this kind of feast at select special occassions”
 As Ferul spoke, the aristocratic Imperial Chief of Staff whispered the Emperor.
 - “Your Majesty, please, do not retire the roseven liquid. I wish to enjoy this me-”
 - “Are you mad? Look at the Stoinian King, he is furious. I may be powerless, but forget not whose residence you step on”
 - “But-”
 - “I do not wish to hear it. Unless you wish an escalation of this incident, your mouth shall remain shut. I shall make certain that you are shamed in posterior parties we attend”
 When the Emperor spoke those words his reflex made him subtly reach for his sword. He suspected anything could go wrong now. Luckily the Ryccian Chancellor had stood up just in time.
 It had appeared the true leader of the Empire had revealed himself at last. At first glance it looked like a sentient snob fox, but nonetheless he knew where to direct his politics from now on. The King also noticed the Emperor talking with one of the flamboyant Ryccian officials. It was clear now that the aristocracy had become decadent in the Ryccian Empire. The only thing calming him down now was the hope of reasonable Ryccians on the rural worlds.
 - “But please do tell me, Chancellor, how did these practices originate? Is it an old tradition that goes way back when there were no such policies? Does the rural population also endorse this?”
 - “And let this never happen again in the surroundings of any Stoinian official, is that much clear?”
 - “If I recall accurately, this practice originated long ago amongst the human nobles in the Late Old Empire, when the militarism of the human aristocracy waned”, said Ferul, “This practice was stopped for a century when the new democratic age came a millenia ago, but it resurged as peace and prosperity returned once more. In wealthy regions such as the human-dominated Core, this practice is common in the elite. More far-flung and poorer regions consider this an unnecessary splurging of money and food on average, but, as the Empire becomes wealthier, this attitude is changing slowly. I can assure you that this shall not be repeated in your presence here”
 The Emperor was already texting the Master of Ceremonies to remove the roseven from all subsequent festivities. What a strange, austere people.
 One of the few who were pleased with the King’s reaction was Liat. She saw this practice as superfluous, and thus agreed with this barbarian.
 - “Good.”
 The King took another look around. It really looked like Ferul was the real man, or xeno, in charge here. The King then seated himself. He took a fruit and started eating it and tasted its exoticness. He was intrigued by it. Then Chancellor Sheridan spoke up.
 - “Chancellor, I know from where these fruits come from, but do they also have a name? And where exactly might this Juno be exactly?”
 Chancellor Sheridan tried to create a new conversation, though the King was still sounded annoyed.
 Ferul gestured at a servant.
 - “If you may, please turn on the room’s holomap”
 The servant did as instructed. There was a tiny, unnoticeable holoprojector in the middle of the table. It displayed a holographic map of the Empire.
 - “Map, show me Juno”
 The holomap did as ordered and focused on the Core, pointing at the planet Juno.
 - “As you can observe, Juno is a planet in the Core. It is not far from here. Map, highlight Constantinople”
 Once more, the map did as ordered and highlighted Constantinople.
 - “Juno has a native plant called the Florgast, an alien organic specimen that produces a fruit of the same nomenclature. The humans from antiquity that colonized that world discovered that these fruits are consumable for most species, except notably the Kaminoans, and thus they have farmed it for their value as a type of native food. If this species takes even a single bite of this foodstuff, they shall have severe stomach pain. To eat 15 or so of these in a short span of time can be lethal for them”
 - “Well I am sure they have plenty of other delicacies they can eat. Perhaps these vegetables can be part of trades between our empires. Lady Valois, certainly was open to such propositions.”
 The Chancellor took another bit from it.
 - “But tell me, these vegetables aren’t that rare are they?”

1 Like

 - “As a matter of fact, they are actually quite rare. The vegetables and herbs served in your soup are quite the delicacy, for often they take years to grow in their natural state. They cost a fortune, but they do forge some exquisite dishes”
 Although the fruit was delicious, the Stoinians would keep their distance from it from now on. Their inner gut told them that by eating such an expensive fruit, they would become as decadent as the Ryccians. Perhaps it was the indoctrination they received as kids to not look after such decadent desires. The Chancellor spoke eventually with a more friendly tone while the King still calmed down.
 - “I see, perhaps it wouldn’t be an interest to bring these into the Stoinian market. If they are as expensive as you say, the price on the Stoinian market would skyrocket due to the transportation needed. With those prices, no Stoinian would pay for a piece of fruit. Perhaps more common fruits can be imported from your Empire. We Stoinians would also like to export some of our exclusive fruits and vegetables as well. Perhaps you would be interested in fruits and vegetables from Terra itself?”
 By luck or chance, the direction of the conversation could now be steered into a more historical one. It remained up to the Ryccian if they would take the bait.
 - “Whether organic foodstuffs excel in the Ryccian market depends on the customers. You have been alluding to a place called ‘Terra’, King Andrei. If I recall accurately from the news reports, this is an ancestral planet you claim all of humanity descends from? If so, may I be acquaintanced as to the location of this fabled world in your nation if it is indeed within your jurisdiction? What are its fruits and vegetables like, for example? Is it far from your capital world or is it the centre of your government?”
 - “Terra is indeed the ancestral planet of all Terrans, or humans as you refer to us. Sadly due to malfunctions whilst we were on our sleeper ship, the Zamolxis, we have endured several technological hiccups which shouldn’t have occurred. We suddenly were tens of light years off course and our time signatures were off by multiple centuries. We were also forced to ditch our original planet for colonisation and look for local habitable planets. For those reasons we aren’t able to pinpoint with certainty the location of our ancestral home. There are some speculations which I would be happy to hand over. You must also understand that we left our ancestral jurisdiction to ensure Mankind’s survival, be it from government or a star.”
 The King sighed, he still was disappointed that the Ryccians had forgotten their roots.
 - “As for the fruits, we took apples, pears, peaches, carrots, potatoes and many more like it. They are very diverse and have evolved over time to adapt to their new environments, but some have also retained their shapes and forms. Of course it was a challenge to grow them sometimes as these new environments meant that new diseases could destroy all the crops. Luckily we were able to make them resistant through genetic manipulation. On our ships we have gardens in which we grow such fruits, we can give you samples by tomorrow if you would like.”
 - “How…interesting. Our similarities are uncanny, for we already possess and produce all the plant-based foodstuffs you have listed to us. They would not be anything foreign to our population”
 Ferul interjected. As his role as Head of the Government, he takes care of important matters.
 - “We would be glad to be made aware of your theories as to where this ‘Terra’ planet is located. Perhaps our archaeologists and historians may cooperate to find a resolute truth to this paradox”
 The King was a little offended by the tone this xeno had used to say Terra. However, what could such a xeno understand of the Stoinian essence? For now, the King could understand their doubts and scepticism. But if by chance they had anything in their ancient archives, maybe the same ones where the Cristians were mentioned, it could help the Stoinians in their quest to find Terra again.
 - “I think we can come to an agreement for a joint archaeological program to find Terra or anything from ancient Mankind.”
 Of course the Stoinians would try claim such artefacts for themselves as they currently distrusted to hand over such important artefacts to the Ryccians, who would likely view it as a relic from a horrific past. Another option was that they wouldn’t even show it musea and lock it behind doors, never showing Mankind’s true origins. Surely in Stoinian hands, they would receive the respect they deserved.
 Then the Queen spoke up, she had an idea that maybe both parties would appreciate. It was indeed a stretch, but the role of Queen still was a noble one.
 - “Gentlemen, I believe it is all good and well to learn about history, but it’s useless if you don’t learn from it. We Stoinians have learned about the vulnerability of children too many times. I don’t know about the Ryccian Empire, but are there a lot of orphans in your Empire? The Stoinian government would more than likely be willing to help any orphan of any race within the Ryccian Empire. In return the Ryccians could do the same, surely this is bound to grow a favourable view of one another. Would the Ryccians be interested in such a program.”
 - “Ryccian citizens being educated by these barbarians from infancy? Certainly not”, so thought Ferul.
 He had to be diplomatic to this Queen. To allow human Ryccians to be raised by these xenophobes would be detrimental to the citizenry, and the alien children would be certainly taught that they are inferior beings unworthy of life. Perhaps the Stoinians would even execute Ryccian orphans for their species. Many in the Cabinet had similar thoughts. To permit Ryccian citizens to have supremacist ideologies would be anathema to everything the Empire stood for, and to allow this would basically be granting the opposition a free pass to attack and kill him politically. It would be political suicide to accept this.
 Ferul smiled softly, as if he genuinely appreciated the Queen’s gesture, but in his mind he could not be more suspicious.
 - “Whilst we appreciate the offer, Your Majesty, the Empire believes it has sufficient resources to take care of our orphans. We wish not to burden your great state with the problems that we can solve”
 - “Oh we didn’t mean to suggest that you didn’t have the resources. I was merely suggesting some sort of financial transaction as a show of good faith. It doesn’t have to be financial, but perhaps in different means. I surely am not suggesting for transnational adoption programs. I think we can both agree that would be preposterous.”
 The King’s stomach began to lightly rumble. Contrary to the Ryccians, who needed to artificially make room in their stomachs, the Stoinians, especially those of Sinaian ethnicity, had developed a large appetite and stomach. Although they wouldn’t ask for much, it was common knowledge that they could eat a lot. The King was asking himself questions on what took the Ryccians so long. The Chancellor interjected.
 - “While indeed such an adoption program would be preposterous at current time, perhaps a student exchange program would be a good step. Baroness Liat has voiced her support for such a program and I believe it would indeed be mutually beneficial.”
 - “Indeed, I did hear from her regarding this matter. We are quite receptive to this idea in order to gain a mutual understanding”, said the Chancellor.
 Although they were not mutually aware, most of the guests did wonder why it was taking so long to bring the appetizer. Whatever in the stars could be going on there?
 A servant came, rushing towards the Emperor. He began to explain in Latin.
 - “I beg your pardon for the delay, Your Majesty. Our culinary staff is not acquaintanced with one of the dishes the Minister of Justice ordered, and thus we took longer than expected. The culinary staff wishes to apologize for the delay, but they should be finished soon”
 - “Sigh…very well, that can be understood, but do make haste, lest we anger the King of Stoinia”
 - “I take my leave, Your Majesty”
 - “Apologies for the delay, everyone. It appears that the culinary staff had a complication. The next dish should be coming soon”
 Just as the Emperor finished speaking, the servants came with the next dish. For the King, the appetizer was a sweet sandwich. Made with crispy sweet bread instead of a normal variety, the four small sandwiches laid out in the plate had beef, lettuce and a strange, umami-sweet hybrid cream. This was Colat, an alien cream extracted from a rare plant in the Rim moon of Auroria. It took seven years to grow, and it was in high demand for the aristocracy.
 The servant began to explain French. Knowing this foreign monarch could speak it, the proper aristocratic custom could be followed and the servant could talk in the language.
 - “Your Majesty, this is an Aurorian-style Sweet Sandwich originating from the Rim moon of Auroria. Due to its special ingredient, it has been a recent trend amongst the elite of The Rim and the Core to consume it”
 The King took a bite from the sandwich. The bread was delicious, so were the beef and lettuce. Just what the Stoinians expected, but the cream caught them off guard. They hadn’t expected its sweet taste. Their brains took a moment to process the unorthodox taste combination. Their confusion was quite visible to the Ryccians.
 - “A peculiar taste indeed. Can someone please elaborate on the sweet cream in the sandwich?”
 The King said with a confused facial expression.
 - “Ah, yes, that ingredient is named Colat, a consumable cream extracted from a slow-growing plant in the moon of Auroria”, said the Emperor. “Due to its rarity, it is quite expensive. Colat is a new-found trend amongst the aristocracy, with some liking the cream and others finding it distasteful. I am myself ambivalent regarding its taste”
 - “We Stoinians aren’t quite as used to sweet tastes in our sandwiches. But I believe there is indeed a market for it in your Empire. I doubt many Stoinians would be interested in paying such a high price for any type of plant extracts.”
 The King spoke with a rather calm tone for his temperament. The Chancellor was seeing an opportunity here.
 - “Perhaps this cream or plant has other beneficiary effects which our populace would be interested in?”
 - “Not in particular. There are no outstanding medicinal or postively biologically altering elements that come from ingesting Colat, or at least that is what I know. I am no biological expert, and thus I cannot speak as an authoritative source on this matter”
 The Minister of Finance interjected, for she knew something about Colat. She had visited Auroria recently to meet with some regional business tycoons in a financial summit, and whilst chit-chatting with one of them, she was informed a bit on the substance.
 - “Your Majesty, I have heard that Colat can aid humans and Velpans with the biological constitution of muscles in the body if ingested adequately due to its particular proteins”
 - “Interesting, but are you certain this couldn’t be used as a drug of sorts? I don’t mean to incur, but it sounds that Colat may become a foundation of a new type of drug. Of course this is highly speculative and don’t know nearly as much about Colat. It’s just a precautious thought I had.”
 The Chancellor answered. He didn’t intend to insult the Ryccians, but they were already showing decadent behaviour and who knows what they could do.
 - “So far as we are aware, Colat cannot be developed into any illicit substances”, said the Chancellor, “From what I was told, numerous secret laboratories have attempted to forge a damaging drug from the food item without much success, and thus it is harmless”
 - “Then I would only advise to keep vigilant. History has proven that such illicit substances always find a way to people who are the most vulnerable to it”
 The King spoke in a patronising manner.
 Ferul noticed the tone in his voice, and so did many in his Cabinet. Many were annoyed, but to react to that attitude would be counterproductive. It would just be adding fuel to the fire.
 - “Our authorities police our state to the best of their ability. You need not concern yourself too much on our internal affairs, Your Majesty, but I do thank you for the thought”
 - “Indeed I trust you police force. But should it ever come it, there are Stoinians eager to expand their businesses into the Ryccian Empire. These are mainly Bounty Hunters and Private Investigators who would want that. I don’t believe you have told me if such practices are still done or legal for that matter. Could we get a more detailed perspective about it?”
 The King asked rather inquisitively, though his hopes were rather low for a productive conversation.
 - “Such policies depend on the level of crime in a region. For example, private citizens cannot take the law into their own hands under any circumstances in peaceful regions such as the Core, but in regions such as The Imperial Rim, where our forces are constantly engaged in anti-piracy operations, private citizens can perform tasks as auxiliaries to local police and military units by acting as reconnisance and temporarily joining official ranks if they possess legal military-grade weaponry that was purchased at their own expense. These ‘militiamen’, as they are sometimes referred as, fulfill a task in exchange for payment. However, the practice is not so widespread as to justify your bounty hunters to expand into our borders, I am afraid”
 - “I see, well in our Kingdom they work through a license which one can buy and perform several strict tests. I see their Bounty Hunting skills may not be accepted here, but what about their Private Investigation enterprises? You see, our Bounty Hunters often work the two jobs as they work hand in hand, would this still be acceptable in the Ryccian Empire? I don’t quite see how that would be a problem. In return any Ryccian private investigators can also expand in Stoinia.”
 - “Ah, yes, those are indeed accepted if they do not interfere with the work of the authorities”
 Servants came and served the main dish. For the King, it was a Coubé (OOC: Kobe) Beef Steak, a rare delicacy. It was seasoned with expensive herbs and spices, and an accompanying small assortment of pricey vegetables was next to the steak proper. A servant also poured an Anoretan wine, a fine-class type of wine in the outer regions of the Empire that was gaining popularity in the aristocracy. A separate plate held a small dish of mashed potatoes made from high-quality crops. A sauce, called Kotzler Sauce and extracted from a plant in the Eastern Region of the Empire, was provided if the King wished to make use of it. It was white in colour.
 - “Do not worry, they have boundaries in our Kingdom. They will expect the same if they wish to operate in Ryccia. They only need acces to your laws, but that shouldn’t prove too difficult a task. I am sure we can both agree that these enterprises shouldn’t be obstructed between our nations.”
 The Stoinians were surprised to see the beef. It smelled and looked delicious and they were eager to start eating. The King first took a sip from the wine and then started to taste all the different ingredients. Even he had to admit that it tasted delicious on par with Sinaia’s cuisine. He also tried a bit of the sauce on the meat and it enhanced the beef’s taste.
 - “I believe we have finally found something we can both agree is good.”
 He smiled and look around the Ryccians while taking another sip. The Chancellor spoke as well.
 - “What is this fine wine and where does it come from? I am sure that there is indeed a market for it in Stoinia. As for the meat what is it? Perhaps Stoinians can come and hunt on the animal in question if it isn’t farmed.”
 - “King Andrei”, the Emperor spoke, “this is Coubé beef, an expensive variety of cow meat. If I may venture into jest, if you wish to hunt this, it would diminish your pride as a warrior. The wine your tounge currently savouring is Anoretan blue wine, a peculiar mix of red and white grapes with blue organic pigments that enhance the flavour of the drink. It is a delicacy in the outlying regions of the Empire, but it is also gaining popularity amongst the elites in the Core”
 The King smiled at the Emperor’s comment revealing the true nature of the beef. Perhaps these Ryccians had a good sense of humour.
 - “I can see why it is considered a delicacy. You can tell the provider that the Stoinian King likes his trades. And where are these outlying regions? Is it near the fabled Mandalorians?”
 The King was curious about the Mandalorians and planned to research a bit on them, but he was distracted with talking to the butler which proved to give him tremendous insights on Ryccian society.
 - “Oh, no, Mandalorian space is closer to this area than the planet I allude to. Anoreta is far away in the Farlands, hence the name. If I may elaborate…map, point towards the Southern Farlands”
 The map heeded the command and did as instructed. A region of the Empire, far from the planet they were in, was highlighted.
 - “In contrast to its neighbours in the region, Anoreta is an incredibly wealthy planet. It is known as a popular gambling and recreational world, and it manufactures some of the best wines I have ever had the honour to taste. Now, Mandalorian space is not quite distant from here…map, highlight Mandalorian space”
 The map did as instructed, highlighting a region close to the Core. Those were the planets the Mandalorians had historically settled thousands of years ago, when their ancestors separated from the Early Old Empire to forge a completely martial society. Their culture had, miraculously, stood the test of time and endured to this day.
 - “As you can see, whilst it may require a bit of travel, the Mandalorian worlds are approximate to our location compared to Anoreta”
 - “I see. They are nearer to the core than I initially thought. But please do tell me more about these fabled warriors of yours, whilst consuming this fine wine and meal. I believe that we Stoinians would have quite a lot in common with these Mandalorians. If I would be wrong, please enlighten us.”
 The Stoinians began to eat more quickly than the Ryccians. It was an old trick. If you eat quicker than you could eat more and Stoinians used it if they were already full at extended meals. Their appetite had faded a bit due to the many appetizers, but they could fit a good meal anytime.
 - “I do not know much of your history in detail, but I shall attempt to tell the tale of the Mandalorians. You shall be the arbiter on the matter of your similarities”
 - “Long ago, when the Ryccian Empire began as a nascent, expanding force, the Mandalorians fled to what is now the planet of Mandalore. A leader of an ultramilitarist faction in the army decided that the Old Empire was incredibly ‘soft’ for his liking, and thus convinced thousands of soldiers to migrate with him and establish a new, martial society. They escaped to Mandalore, and whilst Ryccia focused on colonizing the Core, the new Mandalorian Empire expanded its territory across The Rim. When both sides established concrete borders, fighting immediately began, as the two had imperialistic ambitions on each other. A series of wars, the Mandalorian Wars, were fought in the days of old. Despite their numerical inferiority, the Mandalorians managed to push the Ryccian forces to their Core heartland due to their fanatical fighting spirit. Eventually the Ryccian Empire conquered the Mandalorians at the cost of severe bloodshed, but it did not disturb the Mandalorian planets, preferring to rule via puppet leaders rather than enforce a direct mandate in fear of yet another war. Against all odds, the ultra-martial Mandalorian way of life persisted. The Old Empire made use of the Mandalorians as elite soldiers in its history to subjugate and conquer the land it now holds today, as they were constantly one of the first types of troops to be deployed in the frontlines. Their fanatical desire to never surrender and keep fighting until the bitter end, as well as the martial values they were raised with from birth, made them fierce in combat, and they remain so to this day. In popular Core and non-Mandalorian Rim culture, the blood spilled was so enormous that there are folktales and children’s stories painting Mandalorian warriors as evil beasts who shall punish you if you misbehave. Due to their legendary reputation, these stories told to the children of these regions remain alive after all these years”
 The King was intrigued by these Mandalorians. There were quite a lot of similarities even if they seemed a bit far fetched.
 - “I think you would be surprised between the similarities. The Mandalorians fled from a government which is what we also did, though albeit with different motives. Ever since the Mardakii invasion Stoinians have become quite militaristic in your terms. We also train our children from birth to fight. That’s why every school has a mandatory 4 hour sports program where military doctrine is initiated. This ensures that the populace is ready to fight any encroaching xeno. That’s also one of the reasons why the Velutarians had such a hard time when they were forced to fight on the ground against our troops. I don’t think I need to tell you that if you push a Stoinian hard enough, he will protect what is rightfully his with a fanaticism similar to these Mandalorians. Fighting to the bitter end is viewed as a glorious one.”
 He took another sip from his wine.
 - “And while we don’t share the same expansionist values, we do share that similar stories are told about us. I am sure the Ryccian media has done their part well in that. If it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, would it be possible to meet one of these Mandalorians during our visit here.”
 The Chancellor interjected.
 - “Perhaps we may arrange for such a meeting in the upcoming ball hosted in commemoration of your visit”
 - “It would be an option though I doubt he can truly be a Mandalorian at a ball. Or perhaps I could be wrong. Wouldn’t it be better to meet one where he would feel more at home?”
 - “Your scheduled visit is limited to two Imperial standard days, Your Majesty”, said the Chancellor, “we have not planned for more. We fear for your safety if this visit is prolonged to a timeframe we have not accounted and planned meticulously for”
 - “I see. Then I fear that we will have to meet these fabled warriors on another occasion. But let it be a note that on the next visit there should be Mandalorians.”
 The King took his last sip from the wine before finishing his meal.
 - “But I think a Mandalorian at the ball would do for now. Say, when is this ball planned again?”
 - “Tomorrow, according to my itinerary, there shall be a morning ball right after breakfast”
 The servants came and served the last meal: dessert. For the King, it was a Platinum Cake: a beautiful vanilla cake adorned with sweet fruits and edible platinum flakes. White chocolates coated in edible silver flakes and coloured sugar diamonds (transparent-ish sugarcubes coloured with various flashy hues with added flavours shaped into crunchy diamonds) were present.
 The servant spoke in French.
 - "Your Majesty, I have the honour to present these desserts. This is a platinum cake prepared by a baking master invited from the capital alongside white chocolates and coloured sugar diamomds for your pleasure. Worry not regarding the metallic flakes, for they are indeed edible.
 - “Merci beaucoup. Dit le chef que la présentation est excellente.”
 He responded with a smile towards the servants. The cake was quite bizarre for the Stoinians. What was the point in all that fluff? Surely it must taste good or it would be a waste of time. The King took a bite and enjoyed the taste that followed. The Queen and Chancellor both liked the cake as well.
 - “This cake is indeed quite delicious. You can tell the chef he has my compliments. Although we aren’t accustomed to morning balls, we will try our best to be fresh for the ball. Do say, these morning balls, do they occur often?”

 - “Not often from my recollection. To accomodate the Senators and Congressmen, who must carry out their legislative duties in a timely fashion, we have opted to host this ball on the morning in order to fit with their schedule”
 When the Stoinians finished their meal, the lunch was declared over. A break was to follow. Everyone headed back to their chambers. At the door, the servant assigned to the King opened the door for him, bowing his head and without saying a word. Whilst this may irritate the Stoinians, this was merely proper etiquette for servants.
 The King arrived in his room and immediately started searching for the Old Imperial Military music. He was stupefied by how advanced the Ryccian console was, it was like nothing in the Star Kingdom. Surely once the students had learned of these Ryccian technologies the Star Kingdom would have its own technological golden age. The music was very reminiscing of Stoinia’s current style. He started to look into the Old Empire and formed his initial thoughts. Perhaps this Old Empire had more guts than the current one. But when he stumbled amongst references of the Mandalorians, he went deeper into their culture. He learned from their culture, learning of the role of Mandalore and their code which shared all the fundamental values with the Stoinians. Perhaps these people can be the bridge between the decadent Ryccians and the Stoinians. Time would reveal it, but now he needed to focus on other matters. Perhaps now was the time he would answer for the butchering of Velutaria, the image of the Stoinian Star Kingdom would be decided in the next hour.
 The Queen spoke to him in Sinaian, the aristocratic language.
 - “Sweety, are you ready for your conference?”
 The King stood up and embraced his Queen.
 - “We shall see, shall we not?”
 She gave him a soft slap on the face.
 - “I hate it when you do that. You are THE King for God’s sake.”
 - “I am still Terran sweetheart. You know that. But don’t worry, these Mandalorians they referred to are quite similar to us. Although they are more tribal based than us, they share a lot of values and principles. I’ll try to make us appear like these Mandalorians.”
 - “Alright then. Don’t do anything stupid the opposition at home would use against you.”
 He kissed her as she straightened his uniform.
 - “You know, I think the Ryccians are so culturally different that even they would find it hard to align themselves with them. But I’ll do my best. May God be with us.”
 He left his room and took two Royal Guardsmen with him. His appearance changed. His pace became faster and bigger as if he was ready to go to war. And in a way he was, with the Ryccian press. Unlike the ones back at home who he was accustomed too, he didn’t know anything about the press here. Except for the bold journalist, but he surely wouldn’t be the rule. He arrived at the room where the press conference was held and took a moment. He had to remain calm, the task of maintaining a good image laid on his shoulders. He put his chest forward and lifted his chin up. He opened the door himself followed by two of his Guardsmen. As soon as he entered the room he expected flashes, but there were none. Of course not! The Ryccians are using holographic technology, they wouldn’t have a need for it. The journalists started to shout out questions but he maintained his cool. He slightly lifted up his right hand and then lowered it. Surprisingly the journalist followed his hand and soon a silence followed.
 - “Greetings Ryccians, I am King Andrei Casarion the Third of the Stoinian Star Kingdom. In name of our nation I bring you our kind regards to our Terran brethren. It is truly a relief to see others of our species flourish. That isn’t to say that the other species should be afraid of us. But everyone one of you has one thing in common, you are all journalists and I will treat you as such, regardless of any race or species. I don’t know the journalistic rights you have here in Ryccia, but if you overstep our standards. You will know it and I urge that the others learn from that mistake. Do not fear I won’t punish you, I will merely be less cooperative and you will be wasting your time and that of your colleagues. Choose your questions wisely now. Now are there any questions?”
 Hand rose up in the air and journalists began to shout their questions, but not all of them. A Vurbentan held his hand up in the air without shouting. The King pointed at him waiting for his question.
 - “Greetings, Your Majesty, Noxka Vuohotso here from the Central Imperial News Agency. In our nation, there has been a great deal of controversy regarding your attitude towards other species. Some are calling you uncivilized barbarians due to your xenophobia. As this conference is being televised across the entire Empire, could you address the nation in regards to these accusations?”
 - “I would be a fool to tell you that there isn’t a xenophobic influence. But I can assure you that it has a natural cause. Your people aren’t familiar with our parts of space. It was infested with pirates of barbarian races and one of them decided to attack our newly colonised world just years after we settled. That war with the Mardakii o War at Home as we call it, shaped Stoinian society in a way to distrust any other species out there. I am sure you can understand our reasoning for it. However before you start putting words in my mouth saying that I am like the Imperials of the Old Empire, I want to clarify that we aren’t like that. What is still unbeknownst to you is that the Stoinian Star Kingdom isn’t purely made out of Terrans. Thirty years ago in our campaign against the Mardakii we came across the Cheunh Ascendancy inhabited by the Cheunh. A blue skinned humanoid resembling to Terrans, but with glowing red eyes. They proved to us that other races have worth in them which we previously didn’t see. I think that we Stoinians are at a historic time where we begin to learn of such things. Compare it in a way with your Democratic Revolution where all races gained equal rights, but in a more cultural way. Now I understand that by your standards we seem like a crude people, but it is because of our past struggles against xeno races like the Mardakii and Velutarians which shaped us into what we are today.”
 - “You may not have noticed, but I am still looking forward to work with your officials regardless of race. In some ways I have found to have more culturally in common with a non-Terran race than the Terran race. I am sure that there are cultural differences, but only time can overcome them. So I ask the Ryccian people for time to adjust to your new ideas and the Stoinian people will return the favour. Friendships aren’t build in one day, but require time to be build. Whether the Ryccian people still want it is up to you to decide. I know we had a very rocky start and that perhaps the wounds haven’t quite healed yet, but if we both are willing to work on it, I am sure we will grow a strong tree of friendship.”
 He took a small breath and journalists began to shout out questions again from the back. The front had taken the example of the Vurbentan and were silenced while lifting up their hand. The King eventually pointed at a Velpan on the fourth row.
 - “Your Highness, Lirgeil Ralmehen from The People’s Inquirer. We decided to take a question from our readers and select it by lottery. Here is a question from an alien citizen: Shall Stoinians kill me because I am not human?”
 The King smiled and laughed a bit. He hadn’t expected such a stupid question. It truly was amusing to him. H then looked into what he suspected to be the camera.
 - “Dear citizien, I think you have the wrong imagery of us. We don’t kill out of pleasure, but because we must. Almost every Stoinian knows the sacristy of life through hunting. I know it seems archaic, but it is what connects us to our ancestors and teaches us about the reality of nature. We aren’t a barbaric horde that kills out of sheer pleasure. On the contrary, our society is build around fighting those barbarians. But in short no. We won’t kill any Ryccian citizen because he isn’t Terran. Especially since you have proven to be productive and become a pillar of Ryccian society. I will refer to my last comment and tell them that I believe every non-Terran species has their worth.”
 He then pointed to a Terran in the middle who was quite silent. The majority had also become silent, but a few shouted nonetheless.
 - “Yes, Marcus Valbury from the Imperial News Network. If you believe it to be so, why should the Empire and Star Kingdom have close diplomatic relations? If not, why not?”
 - “Because it is part of Stoinian doctrine to reach out for our fellow Terran brethren and protect one another. We have a saying you know: Stoinian at heart, Terran by blood. That blood we share with some of you. We left our homeworld of Terra, but haven’t forgotten our roots. We wanted to ensure Mankind’s survival by spreading into multiple states in the stars. Unfortunatly our colonisation process had proven to have some errors and we didn’t arrive on our planned destination. For a long period we realised we could be the last, but today we are happy to share the mantle of Mankind with the Ryccian Empire. We see the Ryccian Empire as a fraternal nation due to shared ancestry. I believe it is detrimental to keep good relations with the Ryccian Empire for the sake of Mankind. Mankind has struggled against itself for too many times in its history and we Stoinians aren’t keen on repeating those mistakes.”
 He chuckled for a moment.
 - “Besides it’s quite refreshing to see civilised people in this sector from all the barbarian races we have grown accustomed to. So far we have had contact with the Treecuu and are looking forward to explore this sector much further.”
 He then pointed at a Kaminoan in the front.
 - “Finei Tei from the Financial Times, an economic news service. Can you guarantee that you do not utilize slave labour in your economy, no matter the species?”
 - “We ourselves have been slaves during the Mardakii Campaign. We don’t have the intention to become like them and have never utilised slave labour for our economy. It has to be noted however that there are few xenos other than Terrans in our Kingdom, the Cheunh excluded that is. The primitives that are located on our planets, colonised or not, are left alone and tend to their own matters. I think you can clearly see that we aren’t the monsters your media proclaimed us to be. I know reality can often be disappointing, but this is for the better isn’t it? Now next question.”
 The press was quiet except for a Terran at the back who shouted his question. The King suspected he was from a nationalistic group, but he wasn’t certain. There was something about the Terran he felt would be confrontational. Regardless it was a good test to see how the Ryccians would react.
 - “To the Terran in the back, state you name paper and your question.”
 Some of the journalists were astonished. Why would he destroy the order he created in the room? The King was toying with the journalists. He wanted to see how desperate they were and if they could be manipulated.
 - “Cecil Avontaine from the National Review, a patriotic newsletter. Why should we engage in civilized conversation with inferior nations who are not enlightened as the Ryccian Empire is? That Rascal ship was certainly proof of a fanatical act…”
 The King interrupted while the journalist was speaking. His facial expression clearly showed that the King was annoyed.
 - “Mister Avontaine, I suggest you get your facts right. YOUR fleet fired first upon our ships before they even had a chance to initiate communications. If anything it is YOU who have proven to need a lesson in civilized conversations. And how dare YOU insult the brave men and women who died because of the failings of your Admiral Kavle. YOU provoked us and we answered accordingly. You are in no position to teach us civilized conversation. We have cleared the uncivilized barbaric hordes which claimed our systems before we set to colonize our worlds. We know what those conversations look like and perhaps you should look at your own past.”
 He then turned towards the rest of the journalists.
 - “You may ask your officials and none will tell you that we have had uncivilized conversations. On the contrary we have come to accept most of your customs. Sure there will be cultural differences, but that are the way of things. You Ryccians of all people should know that since you have grown over those differences. I have read some of your history and don’t tell me that we can’t overcome our current obstacles when in your past most species faced far worse. You have proven to grow strong within your Empire and I believe now is time to grow stronger extra-nationally and contribute to order within this Sector of the Galaxy. Next question.”
 Then the journalists started shouting their questions again. So they were indeed desperate and didn’t quite know discipline. The King deducted that there likely wasn’t a national service or the Stoinian alternative. Nonetheless he would take two more questions he decided and then he would have fed them enough to digest. He pointed to a Velpan in the fourth row.
 - “Yes, Falunxe Furtelin from the Imperial News Network. Do you have a democratic system of governance in your nation? What is the status of civil rights in the Star Kingdom?”
 The King chuckled. They finally started asking the good questions now.
 - “I see Mr. Furtelin is getting to the real question here and a damn complex one at that.”
 Some of the Ryccians laughed as well, but quite the entire room.
 - “Yes we do have a democratic system in the Stoinian Government. Now note the key word there, government. Because in our system the overall governance is more complex than your system from what I have seen. A core element of our society is the independence of our military from the civilian government. This has been put in place about 30 years ago after my Regent’s, General MacArthur, reign in accordance with my opinion. These decimating wars that we have fought have proved us that the military must protect its citizens without interference from the civilian government for optimal results. Of course the military has its codes of protocol, law and ethics to ensure they aren just warmongers. To also prevent a coup I am its head and at the same time the head of the civilian government. Stoinian civilians only play taxes to pay for the pensions of retired military personnel as all other expense, and I repeat, all other expenses are handled by the military itself. And no we don’t have a democratic system within the military as it will compromise the efficiency. Except for the election of a new Strategos, the right hand man of the monarch within the military. Though it isn’t quite worth to be called democratic as numerous factors go into such a vote.”
 - “Now that I have explained the military part, let’s get to what you are really interested. The Civilian Government. There we have the separation of powers in different branches: the judicial, executive and legislative. The Executive branch is the Royal Cabinet which is lead by the Chancellor with a mandate of four years. The Chancellor is elected by popular vote and receives his mandate from the monarch. Note that the monarch is allowed disband the Cabinet at any time, but this is only used in times of emergencies and the Chancellor is given most of the monarch’s powers when it comes to overall civilian matters throughout the Kingdom. The Chancellor is also helped by the different ministries.
The legislative part consists of Congress which is split into two houses. The People’s Assembly as the lower house and the Planetary Assembly as the upper house. The People’s Assembly has the Representatives of each planet and the number of the representatives is in accordance with the planets population. Each Representative has a mandate of 4 years and are immune to planetary referenda to remove him from office. This is to prevent chaos with ones representatives as they have a rather short mandate. The Planetary Assembly works differently. Each planet has a set of two members per planet to protect the planetary interest so policies aren’t just dictated by the most populated planets. The Senator, elected by the people for a mandate of 8 years, and the Viceroy, chosen by the local noble house. Both aren’t immune to planetary referenda and a different person will e elected to complete their mandates.”
 - “That’s the highest level of democracy. Of course each planet has its own Governor elected by popular vote for four years. It is notable that the local noble houses are more of a symbol than anything else. They are meant to be representatives of the Ruling House of Casarion, though these lesser houses aren’t related in any way with the ruling houses. On the contrary, nobles are required to marry common people as to prevent an exclusionist elite.”
 - “As for the civil rights. The Stoinians do have a lot of them. They have the right to vote, freedom of speech in any way or form, a fair trial, government services, public education, healthcare, self defence, to bear arms for the purpose of self defence and self sustainability on the frontier worlds, free movement and survival which is protected by the military.”
 - “Now it has been quite a ride wouldn’t you say. I believe it is now time for your final questions so make it a good one.”
 He then pointed at a Terran on the utmost left on the second row.
 - “Yuen Sterlikt from the Imperial Post. If you had to compare your elite classes to those of the Ryccian Empire, could you compare and contrast them?”
 The King was now treading on dangerous waters. He would have to be diplomatic about it regardless if he liked it or not.
 - “I think there is a clear difference in how these noble classes evolved and were created. I am not entirely sure about the Ryccian, but the Stoinian Houses were formed as a way to create a stable governance. I think that’s a key difference with the Ryccians or at least the practices who that. For example all nobles are required to marry a commoner as a means to prevent the effect of us and them. I see some of you have the same reaction as your leaders when my wife told them she was a commoner. Not so much the title, but rather the role is key in our noble houses. This is also shown in aesthetics. I have noticed that your elite classes dresses are quite different than yours. More eye catching shall we say. In contrast to our nobility who dress more like well-dressed commoners with ethnic elements to them. Of course I could be wrong as I could not have seen the rest of your society, which I want, but am not allowed due to security concerns. On a final note I think one cam become more easily of elite class in the Star Kingdom as I think peerage is much more common, but this could also be due to recent Wars and campaigns. In essence our nobility are more down to earth.”
 He paused for a moment looking throughout the press. He had given them enough for now. There fears should have been calmed by now.
 - “Now the gentlemen, I believe I have given you sufficient substance for you to get to work. Do not worry as I will try to make your work easier as I do want for the Ryccian and Stoinian news networks and information networks to link up with each other. After all we do want to know what our Terran Brethren are up to. Have a good day and may God help us all.”
 The King then left as some of your press tried to get their final question, but they wouldn’t get it. The King then made his way to the conference room where he had a clear objective in his mind. Get a Non Aggression Pact with the Ryccians, that would be a significant win for both nations. And a basis on which to grow trust. If they wouldn’t get to strengthen the bond now, they will in time. He entered the room and the Stoinian Officials stood up and sat down when the King himself sat down as well. He then turned to the Ryccian Officials.
 - “Now, where shall we begin gentlemen?”
 - “Greetings, Your Majesty”, said the Chancellor, “let us commence. We must discuss the most important matters first. We wish to express our desire for a non-aggression and mutual commerce treaty between our two nations”
 The King was surprised by the directness from the Chancellor, but he wasn’t surprised. After all the Stoinians had already made a draft before leaving. The Stoinians were interested in joint defensive pact with the Ryccians to protect Mankind, however he wasn’t sure if the Ryccians would accept. However he would give it a try, just to realise if opposition was really that strong. The King took one of his datapads and gave it to the Ryccian Chancellor. On it the Ryccian Chancellor could see the whole proposed NAP between the two nations. It described that no military vessel may encroach in the borders of one nation without specific authorisation otherwise it will be seen as an act of dissolvement for the NAP. It also consisted specific Stoinian Military channel to alert if Ryccian ships were nearby for any reason. Of course it stated that both parties have no intention to wage war against one another.
  “You see, our governmental system is a bit more complicated. On the matter of military affairs I have full jurisdiction. But on matters of commerce the Chancelor will have to sign as the people have chosen to be their representative in these matters. So let us first focus on my jurisdiction. As you see, we already have a proposal for a Non Aggression Pact with you as we wish no war between our Terran Brethren. We have an old saying which perfectly describes us: Stoinian at heart; Terran by blood. We have no wish to spill any Terran blood between our two nations. We have no intention of harming our relations, on the contrary, we would like to further develop them. I am sure our Chancellor will give you the economic details and we will come to an agreement. But before we sign the Non Aggression Pact, I do have one more proposal. We Stoinians are ready to help protect our Ryccian Brethren and we are prepared to sign a Defensive Pact in which each faction is obligated to help another nation if that said nation is attacked by other forces if the attacked nation requests it. It would only be the right thing to do, because if the Ryccian Empire is attacked there will be without a doubt Stoinian volunteers eager to help our Ryccian Brethren. Would the Ryccian people be interested in such an agreement?”
 - “My most sincere of apologies”, said the Chancellor, “but we feel that such an agreement is premature at this time. We do not know each other well enough to take such a leap of faith. It would be irresponsible of us to make your nation compromise itself with the affairs of the Empire so soon, and vice versa. An alliance is a sort of kubesku, if you pardon the analogy. A kubesku was an agreement by the stone age ancestors of my species to safeguard each other in a pack. This sort of alliance was done when all available factors were carefully considered and when the parties were acquaintanced sufficiently enough to defend the other. Similar to an alliance between nations, it is not a light matter to decide upon. Thus, in the name of the Empire, I must respectfully decline the kind offer”
 - “Very well Chancellor. We understand.” The King said. “We hope that the Non Aggression Pact will suffice both our needs then.”
 Both the Chancellor and King weren’t fooled by the Velpan’s cunning. Surely the Velpan was a good politician. He had essentially told them they don’t trust them. This needed to be handled quickly. However they may feel they didn’t show any discomfort with the Ryccian Chancellor’s comments.
 Then the Stoinian Chancellor began to regain the trust of the Ryccians.
 - “Well we certainly hope that we can do our best here today, so that not only our governments can learn to trust each other, but our peoples as well. The King has informed me and Minister Liat on the matters of a mutual visa system. He has already promised you that he won’t allow discrimination to be made against any of your citizens. However you must realise that this policy will create an outcry at home in some regions. It is therefore that the visa system should be in place to keep your citizens away from these potentially hotzones.”
 - “We also believe this visa system should extend to students and press personnel aside from tourism of course. We would like to assemble a team of experts from both nation to come together and form a consensus for which studies this is possible and of course any problems with our calendars. We suggest that this exchange time should only be around half or a full academic year and only for universities from their second academic year. However it is best that we leave the details to a dedicated expert team. And since both our nations hold the values of free press. We will allow your journalists to come to us, if you accept the same for ours. We are also open on matters of press to open our borders for news networks to start creating their news networks in both our nations. We will allow the press to buy properties for the means to build their Stoinian Headquarters. It also comes without saying that the press should adhere to the local press law, that means that the Press may not receive public Stoinian funding. Meaning that Ryccian Press businesses in the Star Kingdom will be left for themselves. Of course we understand that you may have reservations, but it is our duty to come to an agreement today is it not?”
 If the Chancellor agreed to these discriminatory terms, the opposition would accuse him of weakness and yielding to racism. He knew the Stoinian King meant well, but he had to press. In an ideal world, this would be a proper deal. But political considerations push beings to do more than what they intend.
 - “We are not responsible where our citizens, no matter their race, decide to go to. That is their choice, and they are well aware of the dangers they face when travelling to such regions. We can provide travel warnings that strongly advise against such trips, but we ask that no special consideration, whether discriminatory or not, for our citizens be made based on race in regards to the visa system”
 - "We are under agreement regarding the student and press visas. Our students and press should be able to freely perambulate to any system to course their studies or report on the news freely, respectively. We understand the conditions of your press la
 The King knew there might be political backlash with such a policy in Ryccia, but it seemed like there is a strong anti-racism feeling in the Ryccians. Something that perhaps must be set right. Nonetheless the Chancellor had a work around for this.
 - “Then perhaps it would be a safer option to limit the alternatives on the Stoinian side. The visa would only be valuable for a select few planets with the lowest chance of potential incidents with your citizens. We will limit Stoinian options to Sector Capitals, Spire Cities and a few rural colonies. This way the mutual visa system wouldn’t be targeted for “racism”. The same goes for the exchange students, they will also be limited to universities on these planets. But it should also be clear that upon entering one’s nation one accepts to adhere to the local laws and should be held accountable for it. Wouldn’t you agree?”
 This was better. Instead of a racist system, he could spin it as a distrustful and cautious regime gradually opening up. Yes, that would work, for now at least.
 - “We agree to these terms. Now, regarding visas for labour…we are of the opinion that if you wish to permit work visas, they must be small in quantity and for high-skill trades. We believe 50,000 per year should suffice for now, with more room to expand or contract as the necessities of the future dictate”
 50.000 per year?! Those are harldy any real numbers. Those 50.000 per year likely would clerk jobs in ONE district of Daonlathas. To the Stoinians it seemed hardly a real number considering the massive populations. But perhaps Stoinians should make a use of this, send the best entrepreneurs and engineers to make an economic foothold. Yes, that should do it. For now the Chancellor would agree to these terms.
 - “I see, we agree on these terms for the high-skill trades. We also feel that cross nation investments should also be made possible. For example, I believe many of our ethnic cultural products would be viewed as luxurious and high-skill, so these people should have a right to bring their products to the Ryccian Market personally. Of course this would have to be done through high-skill intermediaries, but I think you get the picture. We would also agree to such terms for your people as well. Is this satisfactory?”
 - “Of course. We consider all beings involved in the transportation of imports and exports to be exempt from our visa system as long as they do not stay for long in our territories. The ethnic manufacturers of your nation may deliver whatever they please at any time, but they cannot establish residence without a visa”
 - “The 50,000 quota does not extend to the educational and press visas we discussed recently, which we consider should be larger in size. Now we come to the matter of racial equality. We do not ask that you treat your races as equal citizens, for even we know that is a complicated matter we cannot intrude upon, but it is our wish that our citizens, no matter their background, be treated the same as any other foreigner under your laws. Do not legally consider them as Ryccian humans or Ryccian aliens, but as Ryccian, one and the same in spirit and under the law. Should this be acceptable, we would view your nation more favourably”
 The King responded kindly to the Ryccian’s request.
 - “Not to worry Chancellor, I am sure we can legally treat as the same. However, you must understand that this concept is new to our nation and will require some time. Although it should be much faster now that the Cheunh are beginning to spread within our nation. We will agree to these terms.”
 Then the Chancellor continued.
 - “Of course a visa should be required, we can agree to that. However I imagine that we have a few jobs who you might not have. You see, bounty hunting is widely accepted in our nation. Their Bounty Hunting license comes with a strict code and protocols and also states that they can work as private investigators. They help maintaining law and order on the more rural colonies. Would a few of these individuals be allowed within those 50.000 or would their practices be forbidden by your law? If not, will they be included within the initial number?”
 - “For our part, we do not permit the practice of bounty hunting as you describe it in our territories. However, Ryccian citizens are free to perform such tasks if you so permit it within your lands, as they are outside our jurisdiction. We have no objection that you exempt those wishing to travel to your planets to fulfill these bounty hunting missions from the visa system, but our laws forbid this profession in our nation and thus we cannot give way to Stoinian citizens doing the same”

 - “I see, any Ryccian willing to train himself in this practice is welcome to do so. Notice I said Ryccian, not Ryccian Terran. However there will be an extensive selection process. But is the private investigator license of our Bounty Hunters not to be valid in Ryccia or is this practice is forbidden as well?”
 - “Now on the matter of technology, we believe that each nation should be able to bring some of their technologies to foreign markets. However they will have a patent on it for the next 10 years for exclusivity and with extensive royalty contracts for usage of such technologies. Are there any sectors in which the Ryccian Government, would like to proceed with this?”
 - “Private investigation that does not interfere with the responsibilities of law enforcement is completely legal, of course, albeit local laws depending on the planet may vary. Some may even ban these activities if they so desire, but I cannot recall of any jurisdiction that has enforced such a prohibition”
 - “We are of the opinion that a decade is not sufficient. Usually, our copyright laws stipulate that the timeframe for the existence of patents is around 25-40 years, with variations on industries and jurisdictions. Patents relating to healthcare are dramatically shorter, at only 5 years. Our companies, both public and private, would feel confused and a tad uncomfortable with the suggested number of years. We suggest a time period of 35 years, although we are open for negotiation and compromise”
 Ferul was gambling here. The Stoinians were a younger nation, and their own self-descriptions suggested that their technologies were less advanced overall compared to the Ryccian Empire. If there was to be any technology sharing, the Empire must retain the strategic advantage. If the risk paid off, it would be in the national interest.
 35 years?! The Chancellor nearly gave his surprise away, but thankfully kept his cool. Although he perhaps gave a few subtle expressions of surprise. No this was unacceptable to the Stoinians. This would make the Stoinians look like the lap dogs of the Ryccians. Stoinians had welcomed them with open arms and now they wanted to dominate the Stoinians in key economic and technological areas. Paying xenos for future essential technology, the thought unsettled both the Chancellor and the King. This further confirmed their suspicion to be very careful with th Ryccians. Regardless, a few years on the margin couldn’t hurt, let’s see how big of a gambler Ferul was. Stoinians had secured their card of learning Ryccian tech from universities and if this went sour, the knowledge would still be obtained, although the expertise had to be regained. Something the Stoinians were more than eager to put time and effort in.
 - “It seems we have different timeframes for patents. Most of our timeframes are about 10 years, but we would be willing to change that instead of 35 years, we go with 14 years. Though I must say that from the looks of it, our internal markets seems more competitive than yours. If the Ryccian companies aren’t willing to adjust to our markets. Than I fear that they hardly will reach even your suggested 35 years. Of course if you have different thoughts, just say so.”
 - “They are tough, I shall grant them that”
 Ferul was reflecting on his circumstances. He knew the Stoinians would love to assist the Empire due to their stalwart pledge to defend every human they encounter. That is what they told the Ryccians. But even so, one cannot rely on mere words alone. One has to see actions, both past and present. What if their neighbours detest the Stoinians and these xenophobes go into another of their genocidal wars with Ryccian technology? What if they are lying through their teeth and they are simply just planning to steal Ryccian technology? He knew the Stoinians were astonished by such a high demand. After all, whilst their senses are weak on this regard, Velpans can detect incredibly strong emotions that create a torrent of chemicals with their scent. Besides, the keen-eyed would not require this sense of smell, for it was visible, if only briefly, for the observant. He knew he had angered the Stoinians immensely. The issue was how much he should infuriate them.
 - “Perhaps it is preferable to reach a medium. Your laws dictate periods of 10 years, whilst ours is around 25 to 40 years. Let us meet and the middle and say 22 years. Our companies shall feel some familiarity with this timeframe, allowing them to plan ahead for the future”
 They had dropped about 13 years. Maybe they aren’t as stuck-up after all, a good change of scenery for once. Now they showed real interest in the Stoinians and the Chancellor now felt they were going somewhere. 20 years would be optimal he thought. Enough time to fully adjust to the respective markets. Although in Stoinian terms this would be the absolute limit for patents, in Ryccia this would likely be the shortest acceptable timeframe.
 - “Very well, I see your point for your companies. But if you drop down to a timeframe of 20 years, than I believe we can come to an agreement. Not excessively long to us and not absurdly short for you, wouldn’t you agree?”
 - “It should also go without saying that these technologies should not be made included in any further trade deal with third party nations. For example we will allow you Ryccian technologies to be sold to the Treecuu Star Empire for example. Our recently discovered northern neighbour with whom we already have signed a non -ggression pact. It would only be a mere time before we start trading with them as well. For that reason selling to third party nations cannot be allowed. I think we both agree that both of our technologies should be kept safe between us.”
 - “Of course, the technologies we acquire from you shall not be sold to other states and viceversa. We respect that”
 - “Now that we settled the issue of racial equality, we can be guaranteed that Ryccian tourists shall be safe in your lands. We can now speak of tourism visas. We propose that 80,000,000 tourism visas be permitted each year. This can be scaled back if both populations show less interest in visiting the other, or vice versa if tourism becomes a popular activity between our two states”
 The Chancellor would have wanted more, but since not all planets are included a good 80 million to start off was a good bargain. The Ryccians were even open to further extend the deal, truly a favourable deal for both parties.
 - “We agree on these terms. But this does bring the question how we will inform the public about each other. People will know the potential risk once they ask for visas, but this hardly is an incentive to get people to visit our nations. We therefore thought of linking both our information networks. Now this will take some time as both our engineers will have to find compatibility patches for our networks systems. If this would prove to be to hard a shock, we could allow tourism companies to open headquarters in each other’s nations and allow access to advertise online in the respective nation. I imagine the latter would be a far more interesting option for you.”
 - “Yes, the latter is more adequate”
 - “Good than only two matters remain. The matter of cross currency exchanges, however I feel like that should be handled by economic specialists from both nations. That way we can ensure there won’t be economic instability once trading gets into a full wind.”
 - “The other matter is that of embassies and diplomatic posts. We suggest that the Ryccian embassy be place next to the Treecuu Embassy on King’s Square in Sinaia. From there the embassy can coordinate with the diplomatic posts on the other planets open for Ryccian visas. I also believe that the people working in these institutions shouldn’t be incorporated in the initial 50.000 work visas. Can we expect a similar system with an embassy on Daonlathas? Oh and before I forget, since foreign policy is partly made with military approval we will appoint a Legate from the military as Ambassador. Don’t worry the Diplomatic Corps also serves as bridge between the civilian government and the military so there won’t be hardliner military veterans serving as “Ambassadors”. Of course the Embassy would be escort be a small attachment of a maximum of 10 additional military personnel. We request that the military personnel be accepted as part of the diplomatic attachment. Would this form any problem? They will also be required to adhere to special diplomatic protocol in accordance to your nation.”
 - “We have no problem with such terms”
 - “Gentlemen, I believe we are at an end in these negotiations. Shall we proceed to our individual chambers? We have an intriguing day tomorrow”
 Ferul returned to his chambers and turned on the holovision. The opposition was, as usual, criticizing his “weakness” and other bullshit, but it appeared that public opinion was with him. Excellent news. He hoped this would last.
 He was getting messages from several key Senators and Congressmen about the meeting and other political issues. He spent his night answering them, as their support was crucial.
 - “May this be the beginning of a new era. Our new Ryccian friends.”
 Both the Chancellor and King shook the hands of the Ryccian officials. They smiled and then departed to their rooms. The King was met by his wife.
 - “So … How did the King of Stoinians handle himself out there?”
 The King proceeded to lift up his beloved and kissed her. A kiss of pure passion, a perfect reward after an exhausting day.
 - “I like to think he has proven to the Ryccian that he still have the same vigour as when he ascended to the Throne.”
 - “Oh what now. The Butcher of Velutaria showing compassion with xenos?”
 - “I rather see it as beating them at their own games of deception. But enough about the Ryccians for today. Let’s go sleep, for I have to show that fox who the better hunter is.”

 The next morning, the King had woken up earlier than most would have expected. Sadly the Chancellor couldn’t join the hunt as he had to help coordinate the final results for the agreements made yesterday. Surely John would do a mighty fine job. The King had changed into his hunting attire. A camouflage suit with blaze orange markings on the shoulders and cap. For his breakfast he asked early servants if he could have some bacon and eggs on a balcony. He enjoyed the sunrise on Constantinople and the bacon and eggs had been delicious indeed sending his compliment to the chef in French, or Tionese as they called is.
 Moments after finishing his breakfast, Ferul was passing his balcony by chance and asked if he was intruding. The King responded positively, inviting him to take a seat and enjoy the view with him for a moment.
 - “So Ferul, if I may call you that, I prefer to drop the ranks and formalities when hunting. What exactly will we be hunting today? And I understand from my envoy that hunting isn’t quite as appreciated by your people. Though I imagine that it must still be somewhat relevant to your species, or would I be wrong?”
 - “Your Majesty, today we shall be hunting several animals. From what I understand, the Royal Hunting Grounds now function as a nature preserve, and thus we had the original population cloned for this hunt in order to preserve its inhabitants. I have become acquaintanced with the beasts who shall be subject to our hunt, and they are deers, wild ducks, turkeys, wolves and bears. A pack of dogs shall accompany us for tactical assistance. I am not used to hunting these animals, for they are staples of human hunting, not of my culture, so I hope they do not prove to be lethal. We should not worry for death, as a squadron of TIE Fighters and two platoons of camouflaged Stormtroopers shall guard us against any threats”
 - “Hunting in Velpan culture is a traditional pastime. As our biological ancestors partook in this activity for their survival, it is only natural for us to retain such a custom and view it favourably. Our elite classes have a particular way of hunting which is imbued with delicate symbolism. Whilst these gestures may be meaningless to other races, it is a core part of aristocratic Velpan hunting. For humans, hunting is a different matter. More affluent regions condemn the practice as barbaric for spilling unnecessary blood, whilst the far-flung areas of the Empire are more fond of it due to their frontier nature”
 - “Now, we should proceed. The event shall formally commence shortly”

Constantinople, Ryccian Empire
Royal Hunting Grounds

 Ferul was dressed in a traditional hunting attire of his people. It was made of leather from a species native to Velpus, the home planet of his species. It was light, so the wearer could retain mobility whilst providing sufficient warmth.
 The rifle Ferul used was coated in silver and gold. In it were carved sleek and elegant patterns. Perhaps this may be frivolous to the Stoinian King, but he did not care. He had his customs, and Ferul had his.
 - “Shall we enter the enclosure?”
 The King was astonished. Cloned game just for this hunt? Then what was the whole point of it? Hunting was a way to reconnect with nature and admire both its beauty and horror in person and be part of it. And two platoons to escort them? With aerial support? This didn’t look as a hunt to him. A massacre would be the right world for it.
 The King had packed his gun for deer on his backpack. He wouldn’t have a good feeling about this. The whole thrill of being truly bound by nature with the wild is gone. Not even the animals had lived their lives properly. Had they adjusted well enough to the environment to have any sort of decent behaviour one could anticipate.
 At the enclosure the King took out a map of the enclosure scanning for passages and where the animals would be. Since it would be morning the deer should be out eating while it is cool and so he went on to guess the patterns of each animal they were going to hunt. Then a curious hunting dog came to the King. He petted it and asked for his name. Scinti. He didn’t know what to quite make of it. It sounded quite Latin, but the meaning behind it had been lost to him. He asked one of the aides and told him it meant “Spark”. Quite a fitting name he thought.
 - “One moment Ferul. We Stoinians have a tradition of blessing our hunting rifles with a smile rhyme. Perhaps you would like to receive one for your gun as well?”
 Ferul nodded and handed out his gun and the King made small gestures, touching the gun and making a cross whilst saying the traditional rhyme in Sinaian. Ferul must have been confused, but had it been the Ryccian Emperor, he sure would have appreciated the traditions. He then proceeded to do the same on his guns, which wasn’t as elegant Ferul’s aside from the marking of a Lion.
 - “Very well then, Ferul. Let’s go hunt some deer.”
 He started explaining on how to hunt the deer. Since there was a valley it meant the they would need to hunt on the ridge where the sun came on. The deer would come out in the morning to warm themselves up before the ful heat of the sun came. The King explained to Ferul and the platoons how they should navigate the terrain as to not scare the animals.
Finally after a small horn call as was tradition in both nations, the hunting officially began.
 The hunting party made hast to the ridge where the sun would shine upon. The King studied how Ferul used his hunting senses. Aside from sniffs and orienting his ears it didn’t show anything unusual. After hiking for about an hour. Scinti had sniffed something and went over to a deer’s feces in the vegetation on the lower part of the ridge. The King took a look at it. It was fresh for sure, but just to be certain he put his pinky in it. Some Ryccians might have been weirded out by it, but soon the King gave an answer.
 - “Very fresh. We should head upwards and take a look at the ridge. Ferul I suggest we split up, each with a platoon as to maximise our chances. You wouldn’t believe how elusive they can be.”
 Ferul nodded.
 - “Good luck your Majesty. Good hunting.”
 The King nodded likewise and then each set out on their way.

Left Hill

 The King used Scinti to follow the track of the deer and had climbed several hundreds of meters uphill against the wind. Finally, he found a good vantage point. He then started spotting some deer, but none were a buck. All these does, but no buck just yet. After calming down the dog, he finally saw a buck come out of the bushes. It was a majestic buck with a nice rack. So the King slowly set up his hunting position. Meanwhile he gave out a few doe calls to halt the buck. Fortune favoured him as the buck was broadside. He put his gun on his backpack and layed down. Looking through the scope and adjusting it for the range. It was in these moments the King felt uneasy. The feeling he had, had only worsened. The shot was there. A clean kill. He put his finger on the trigger taking a last good look at the buck.

Right Hill

 Ferul had his scope on a deer who had just come out of the bushes. Unlike the King he didn’t hesitate. He had shot the doe as soon as he was certain of a clear shot. These animals were cloned, so there was no reason to be picky about them. This was a sport after all he thought. He then went out to the corpse of the doe as his shot had killed her right in her tracks. The sound of the shot being heard all over the valley. Ferul was happy with his hunt. Although he wasn’t quite familiar on how the animal should be skinned.
 Not ten minutes later the King had arrived to Ferul’s spot. With his entourage. Empty-handed. He congratulated Ferul’s achievement, although he was slightly disgusted by it. Why shoot the doe when there were bucks in the area? Had this Velpan no honour? No, it more likely had to do with the fact that it was cloned.
 - “Your Majesty, I see haven’t found a deer yet.”
 - “Yes Ferul, I saw a big buck. But it didn’t feel quite right, it felt off. Not like the hunts that we are used to.”
 - “I am sorry to hear that Your Majesty. But since you are more familiar with these animals, perhaps you could help me skin this deer?”
 The King then showed how the Stoinians skinned and deboned their deer. Also he looked for parasites which had to be taken into consideration. Luckily there were no ticks or fly larvae in the nose holes. A good portion of meat had been harvested. Then they headed back towards the exit of the reserve as they had spent a long day in the field and they each had to prepare themselves for the ball. On the way back Ferul and the King exchanged the many traditions each species had when it came to hunting. Velpans were capable hunters for sure, but the King wondered in what other different aspects they were most useful.

Constantinople, Ryccian Empire
Arstine Palace Hall

 Ferul had enjoyed the hunt. It was a good moment for relaxation amidst so much political work. This Stoinian King…he may not earn his admiration, but he certainly respected him. But now, it was time to return to reality.
 To a ball meant to be an escape from reality.
 The Stoinian delegation was briefed on basic Imperial customs in a ball where the Ryccian monarch attended. The Emperor was on a throne-like seat in the centre of the back, receiving visitors that bowed to him. It was ceremonial tradition to do so. The Stoinian King and his wife were given the option to not bow due to his royal status, but the rest of the delegation was officially expected to do so. To not do as requested by the Empire would formally be an insult to the throne (and thus why republican politicians constantly refused to give this basic courtesy to the Emperor), and whilst this would not be taken seriously in the bigger picture due to the ceremonial role of the Emperor, it was strongly implied that it would be disrespectful to the Imperial traditions.
 Ferul had arrived, and, as expected, he bowed to the Emperor, who acknowledged his presence with a nod. Other politicians and key invitees were waiting their turn.
 But they were really waiting something else entirely.
 Eventually the Stoinian delegation had arrived. First the less important officials, which might have been opposite to Ryccian tradition, but the Stoinians had a good reason for this. The Stoinians all respectfully bowed down to the Emperor. All exhibiting a level of courtship found working for the King directly, to the dismay of the Ryccian Republicans. They were all modestly dressed. The Chancellor even having a tie with the Stoinian Lion on it aside from the small Stoinian pins on his suit. The Royal couple wore the same as when they had arrived. The King in his militaristic uniform and the Queen in a conservative, compared to the Ryccians, red dress.
 Than was the Chancellor’s turn. He respectfully bowed as much as his body would allow to not fall over. Holding it for quite a long time, hoping for eventual photographs to be taken as many as could. Though the Ryccians would likely have more advanced technology which wouldn’t require his efforts.
At last the King and Queen came in front of the Emperor. The Queen slightly went through her knee, elevated her dress slightly with her right hand and turn down her head. All in a not too flamboyant manner. The Stoinian clicked his heels together as if he were to stand at a attention in the military. His staunch posture was clear from afar, but he also lowered his head slightly. A few Ryccians started talking. Whether it was positive or negative he couldn’t figure it out. The attention was there and it had been enough. He didn’t want to show any form of submission to the Emperor, but just a sign of open respect. Still he was decadent in the Stoinian’s eyes, but so was the rest of Ryccian society. And he had a gut feeling he wouldn’t need too much confrontation on this ball.
 The Stoinian delegation then took its place in close proximity to the Emperor. Enjoying their first drinks and awaiting further instruction for what the ball would hold. Sure Stoinia had its balls, but the Kings gut told he they nearly didn’t it quite as often as the Ryccians. Nonetheless they were here to enjoy themselves.
 The hall was decorated in splendour. There were large tables filled with various and expensive foodstuffs for the guests. Whilst the roseven liquid that had insulted the Stoinians was officially removed from the gathering, many Ryccian invitees secretly brought their own supply to, er, “become sick” upon getting full.
 The dancing had not begun yet. Many of the guests were socializing and delighting themselves on food, as was custom before a dance. Many politicians approached the King and his entourage, eager to inquire regarding the Stoinian Star Kingdom.
 - “Greetings, Your Majesty. I am Petunia Argarri, Senator from Daonlathas. How do you do?”
 This was the Senator from the capital, Petunia Argarri. She was a human whose family had historically recently migrated to Daonlathas. They were originally from the Wild North region, a far-flung area in the north of the Empire. She was the third generation of her family in the capital.
 As a Senator from the most populous planet in the entire Empire, her voting power in the Imperial Senate had the most numerical value. Thus, by virtue of being a Senator from Daonlathas, she was extremely influential.
 The Senator of Daonlathas. Interesting, well if there had to be an Embassy for the Star Kingdomit would be on her planet so he had to be on good terms with her. Although perhaps given the capital’s ecumenopolis nature he suspected that she might also be influential within the Imperial Senate. The King grabbed her hand an kissed it.
 - “A pleasure to meet you too, Senator. Well part of me is still a bit uneasy because I came back empty-handed from a hunt. But nothing serious the King of Stoinians can’t handle. I trust you are more familiar with this kind of balls. How often do they happen? Or is it more of a thing of Core culture.”
 Oh, they are a regular occurrence amongst the elite of the Empire. You are correct in part, as the wealthier regions of the country tend to attend these activities more. The most glamorous and luxurious of them all is the Imperial Ball, held once every five years in the Imperial Palace back at my homeworld. There, all manner of politicians and officials congregate to partake in the festivities of high society"
 - “Does the Stoinian nation have any similar events as this one?”

 - “Yes they are, though far less refined as your balls as I hear it. Though from what I have gathered we have very different practices within our high society. But I am sure we can grow over them, given enough time. I must say that I am eager to get a glimpse of your planet. I certainly hope that one day I can set foot on it on another visit.”
 - “I hear that Daonlathas is an ecumenopolis. I am curious as to what lead to that decision. We ourselves use Spire Cities to maintain the nature and at the same time an easy access towards space. I assume you have no need for a space elevator?”
 Daonlathas is a product of history. It is where the Ryccian Empire was born. Due to its importance throughout millenia, the planet industrialized and urbanized to the scale we have to this very day"
 - “Say, Daonlathas has 1.2 trillion inhabitants. Are there any worlds as populated as my home planet in your realm?”
 - “Ah not quite, but we are getting there. Currently the planet of Cornucopia is having the same process as Daonlathas once had. The planet is intended to become the largest internal trade hub of our Kingdom. It’s population currently stand at 820 billion if I am not mistaken. But that doesn’t mean we won’t preserve the local wildlife, although it is very scarce. Most of the planet is already covered in spire cities. Currently Cornucopia is the closest planet like Daonlathas we have in our realm.”
 - “I assume Daonlathas is the only one of its kind?”
 - “Oh, no, we have a few more worlds that are similar in stature. However, none is as populous as Daonlathas, of course. For example, Kamino, the homeworld of the Kaminoan race, has 800 billion in population. Nearly covered in an ecumenopolitan agglomeration, Kamino has an artificial sea reserved for freshwater”
 “Finance is crucial for my planet’s economy. Does the Star Kingdom have any worlds that focus on this field?”
 - “Indeed Cornucopia was created for such means. And to that end has fulfilled its goals in our eyes and will continue to do so for centuries to come. Since our talks with the Chancellor have proven favourable, I am sure Cornucopia and Daonlathas will be the epicentre for future trade and finance between our nations peoples. However if you want to get into more details I should relay you to our Chancellor. He was elected to run that part of society after all.”
 - “But I can assure you that the Star Kingdom will become a favourable trading partner if we continue down this path of friendship.”
 - “I see. I believe your name is Chancellor Sheridan? Your Excellency, please, regarding your stock markets…”
 The Senator continued to speak to the Stoinian delegation, introducing other Core Senators and business leaders from the capital. They spoke of economic and industrial matters.

Constantinople, Ryccian Empire
Arstine Palace Hall
A Window

 - “Wow, oi have never seen one of dese 'en real life!”
 - “Senator Klaest, whatever are you doing with that monocular?”
 - “'Esn’t ‘et obvious? Oim watchin’ that Executor destroyar 'en der sky”
 - “…Senator Klaest, I am aware of your…pedestrian dialect, so I shall not inquire as to why you are showing it. Why are you not attempting to obtain the attention of that King?”
 - “Oi tought 'et was obvious. Oi have no 'enterest ‘en der Stoinians. Mei planet is of no ‘enterest to dose people. We export crops, we ain’t needin’ minerals or agricultural products right now. Besides, oim not hier for dat, Senator Purshev. You want me to vote against dat bankin’ bill, eh? Why would a teeny world like me beautiful Serida do dat?”
 - “Senator Klaest, whilst Serida may not have much relation to this bill, this is in the national interest. The Banking Regulations Act of 1031 ADR constrains the financial sector excessively, and thus, for our national prospe-”
 - “Ahem”
 - “It seems I wasn’t clear, Senator Purshev. Why would Serida vote in favour of this bill? I mean, I wasn’t invited to this ball just because little worlds such as mine are important to the Stoinians. I know what’s going on”
 - “For a pedestrian Senator from the New Territories, he is quite clever”
 - “I have been observing your economic reports, and I am certain that Serida could see an increase in purchases of agricultural products by certain interested companies”
 - “Hmm…interesting indeed. Well, I’ll go back to see that dreadnought”
 - “Do we have your support?”
 - “Aye, oi can assure Serida’s vote”
 - “Very comical, Senator Klaest. I believe they are calling me over to the Stoinians. Proceed with your dreadnought-gazing”
 - “Cheery lock, rich boy”

Constantinople, Ryccian Empire
Arstine Palace Hall
The Stoinian Delegation

 - “…So I see Cornucopia is quite the hub for trade”, said a Senator from a wealthy world.
 - “Gentlemen”, said the capital’s own Senator Argarri, “I have the pleasure to introduce Senator Purshev, Constantinople’s delegate to the Imperial Senate”
 Purshev was a corrupt chap, but he was subtle about it. So far, he had dodged any serious accusations. He was a skilled - and rotten - politician, being one of the many making deals behind the scenes. Lucky that the Stoinians knew nothing of this.
 - “Greetings, Chancellor Sheridan, how do you do? Care for a glass of some Constantinople fine wine?”
 - “Of course. I certainly hope its taste lives up to this planet’s beauty. Funny enough we do have a city in our Kingdom also called Constantinople, named after the great city back in the old ages on Terra.”
 He took a sip from the wine.
 - “Hmm, not quite my style I think. But then again, I am more of a beer person myself. Say does the Ryccian Empire have beer beverages as well? In Stoinia there would certainly by a market for it.”
 The Stoinian Chancellor was not aware of this, but beer in the Core and The Rim was seen as the drink of the lowest classes. Only one Senator in the affluent entourage of five Senators, four Congressmen and three industrialists that were talking with him had ever drank it, but out of shame, he dared not say it.
 - “…Um…I have not a singular clue…”, said Senator Purshev, “beer is not a beverage we are accustomed with in the Core. The Senators and businessmen present here are either from the Core or The Rim, and thus we cannot tell a factual truth regarding this matter. Hmm…perhaps a guest from a more pedestrian system may speak more accurately”
 Purshev then signalled to Senator Kaul Klaest, the delegate of Serida, a rural system in the New Territories. Surprised, Klaest came, shocked that he was needed to speak with the Stoinians. Serida was a tiny world of 68 million, after all. Why would he be of any assistance?
 - “Your Excellency, this is Senator Klaest, from the quaint planet of Serida. We were conversing regarding beer with the Stoinian Chancellor. Perhaps you may enlighten us about this drink, as it is more readily consumed in your area?”
 Klaest looked at Purshev with annoyance and confusion. This is why he needed to speak to the Stoinians? A cultural reference from the common classes?
 - “Okay, well, beer is of course drank more in worlds like the one I represent in the Senate. A popular brand in my neck of the woods is Crown, a good type of alcohol. Here, if you want, drink some”
 Luckily for the conversation, Klaest had brought a bottle of beer that was served for the more pedestrian guests such as him. He was about to drink it when he was called over, but if he could get the attention of these Stoinians, perhaps Serida may have an advantage over other worlds by the mere mention of its existence to these foreigners. We’ll see.
 The Chancellor took a sip from it and then proceeded to drink some more of it.
 - “Well Senator Klaest … Your beer is mighty fine if I do say so myself. Given the name and good taste, I think it will be quite a product to be sold on the Stoinian market. Perhaps we ourselves could offer some of ours on the next time. But if you are really up for a challenge you should check the spirits some of our ethnicities have. Among those spirits the ethnicity of our King is most renowned for exceptionally good spirits. But I am afraid I can’t accept anymore alcoholic beverages for now as I don’t want to have a backlash from saying stupid things when I am drunk.”
 - “But please Senator Klaest do tell of your planet would be interested in an economic exchange of your beverage?”
 - “Oh, no, my planet is tiny, Chancellor. Serida only has 68 million beings, and most of the economy of my world is related to farming. Our capital and biggest city, Seridaville, only has 88,000 people. If anything, we farm the ingredients and send them to some other planet that makes this beer”
 - “The only beer manufacturer I know of in Serida is the local Serider, a local brand consumed only in the world”
 - “Senator Klaest, you are talking to a former Governor of a rural planet. I build Ceria from the ground up and after my Legateship I became its Governor. To this day Ceria has quite the reputation for shipbuilding in the local sector. I more than anyone can see the value in small planets and especially their trade potential. I am sure we can find favourable trade deals regarding your market. Say does your planet have any special crops or fauna that might be hunted? Of course hunting reserves aren’t a requirement, but I believe they truly might spark interest from Stoinians if you had them.”
 Serida doesn’t seek to become an industrial planet to begin with. We are but one of the thousands of worlds in the New Territories. Our economy is based on the agricultural sector, and so we export most of our crops and meat to the industrialized worlds, who in turn export their goods to us"
 - “Our farmers harvest lots of products, particularly grains and beef. Serida’s wheat is used locally to brew the beer that I told you about. Other than that, we don’t farm anything special. Our mineral deposits are average at best. We hunt local game, and it’s mighty fun doing it, but it’s nothing special in the grand scheme of things. Is the Stoinian Kingdom interested in a humble planet that is only notable for farming wheat for export and holding a planetwide beef cooking contest?”
 Klaest was being self-depreciating by Ryccian standards, but he was being cunning, if not risky. He was aware of the Stoinians’ simple tastes, and thus tried to portray Serida as a humble world with modest desires, nothing like the outlandish and arrogant Core the Chancellor had seen thus far. Perhaps this could go somewhere, or maybe the Chancellor would lose interest and stop talking to him. It was a risky gamble, but time can only tell.
 The Chancellor smiled. He knew a humble man when he saw one, some Stoinian ethnicities were quite known for it. Regardless of the fact that they want to industrialize or not, this Ryccian subculture was a fan of hunting. Something that would be considered taboo in other key Ryccian areas. Klaest was a commoner from what he gather and he would roll with it.
 - “Oh your people are a fan of hunting? Well so are we good friend, people would like a calm hunting trip on a humble Ryccian world. Our people would gladly come visit your planet. Of course that depends on whether you want us there or not.”
 - “Now you may not be as driven like us to industrialize, but I am sure the Stoinian Star Kingdom would like to benefit economically from all Ryccian planets. Including the more humble of them.”
 He then waved his hands so that he could come closer so the other senators couldn’t hear. He whispered in Klaest’s ear.
 - “Besides, I don’t think our people would like to only see the arrogant core Ryccians. Humble Ryccians are a good change of scenery.”
 He then turned to the rest of the senators and while doing so he saw his King waving to come to him.
 - “Now gentlemen, I believe one of your Ministers is asking for me. So I will have to leave you to it. Now take good care, will you? And don’t drink too much of your wine or beer. Or you might have to use that dreadful rose liquid of yours. 'Til next time senators.”
 Sheridan than discussed with some of the Ryccian Ministers about certain details while waiting for the next part of the ball to commence.
 The politicians of the Empire became acquaintanced with the Stoinian higher-ups. Whilst the politicians from wealthier worlds boasted of their opulence and their magnificent economies, the Stoinians could not help but take heed to the call their roots screamed inside their minds, for they enjoyed the company of those politicians from more modest regions.
 More events passed, and a final conference was called. It was a formality, for both sides were about to sign a deal formalizing the conditions of trade, migration and diplomacy between the two nations. Strangely for the Ryccian Empire, and at the Stoinian Star Kingdom’s request, the treaty was written in paper, an outdated material no longer commonly used for writing. However, the Ryccians insisted that the paper had to be of the highest quality and incredibly expensive in order to look good in front of their citizens, as signing a treaty in common paper would be seen as backwards and even a bit disrespectful.
 The two parties signed their own copies and handed them to the other in order for them to sign. For the Ryccian side, the Chancellor signed first, followed by the Emperor, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of the Interior and, in a surprise twist, the Empress Dowager, as she wished to honour the late internationalist Emperor’s memory by signing in his stead.
 Then came the time for a brief remark for the press. The Ryccian Chancellor spoke first.
 - “Ladies and gentlemen, today we have signed a historic document. The text laid therein regulates the relations between our two great states. Whilst it may appear modest to some now, I wish to share a Velpan proverb for those who are concerned: ‘those who tread carefully and patiently in the forest shall hunt most excellently’. It is my belief that this agreement shall be adequate, and it is the hope of the Empire that this acts as a foundation for a prosperous and beneficial relationship. I now give the word to the Stoinian delegation to address the audience with a brief remark if they so desire”
 - “My dear Ryccian friends, as you just witnessed this historic moment, I think I can say with certainty that a new era is upon us. One where long lost brothers have come together again and want to engage in conversation again. For they have been apart a long time from each other and thus some aspect may seem alien to the other. Such has time forged the two brothers into different people, but one thing the certainly do have in common. They both are willing to set aside their differences and start again to build a new productive relationship. Our peoples are to some extent brothers, we share the Terran species and the same goal. That goal is of course peace. We wish the same peace you have lived for a millennia, but not just for our nation, but for the rest of the sector. This is a new beginning, an era of peace and prosperity not just for our people, but for all our people. I hope that from now on we can embrace each other as friends. Thank you.”

Daonlathas, Ryccian Empire

 The Stoinian King, his wife and his Chancellor were, under the cover of secrecy, hurried into a luxury yacht lent by a Ryccian diplomat in order to observe the Empire’s capital from afar and without attracting much attention. The High Diplomat of Vurbenta greeted the King and his small entourage personally in his ship before departing.
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, it is an honour to have you present on my personal ship. I am the High Diplomatic Chief of Vurbenta, Carl William Joseph Honorius Trustien Charlotte-Imperial Arvoyant, Duke in Constantinople and Baronet in Arvoyant, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance”
 - “As I have been made aware of your derision towards organic servants, I have brought my personal service droids to assist you in anything you desire. Please, help yourself to any foodstuffs or confectionaries I have on my ship. You need only tell the droids and they shall retrieve the items for you. In short, make yourselves comfortable. Now, if you shall excuse me, I must direct the pilot to depart and make the necessary arrangements to jump to hyperspace”
 Despite the Stoinians frowning upon personal servants, the diplomat brought his own. He was granting enough respect to his guests, but he did not deem it fit to please them excessively by adopting their ways.
 As Constantinople and Daonlathas were incredibly close to each other, the hyperspace trip itself lasted only a few hours.
 There it was, the jewel of the Core, the beating heart of the Empire, the planet that saw the origin of this country…Daonlathas.
 Carl took out a newfangled device that began to split itself into fourteen floating sticks. Ten began to arrange themselves into hand-like configurations whilst the remaining four generated a screen of a sort the Stoinians had never seen before. It was a neurally-controlled device, and thus Carl was commanding it with his brain. In this screen, the diplomat was checking the status of his ship and the interstellar map to make certain that they had arrived. He then proceeded to search for the digital material he was going to utilize for this trip.
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, I am pleased to announce that we have arrived at the capital of our Empire, Daonlathas. We shall commence the trip in a few, for we must get closer to the planet”
 The Stoinians were pleased with the friendliness of the diplomat. He seemed more open than some other diplomats Berrocal had faced.
 A robot? What was the need for living servants than? Organic servant the tone was appalling! Clearly this decadence is spread over all races in Ryccia!
 They however refused to use the robotic servants as they had a disdain for such machines, but they stayed quite during the jump. Though they were taken by surprise of the glowing blue sea they found themselves in. Was it another dimension, the possibility had arisen for the Velutarians might have used something similar. One of the mysteries the Stoinians hadn’t yet figured out by now. It would take some time before it would be deciphered, but all in good time. Then they exited hyperspace and they didn’t know what to expect. The Chancellor spoke up in astonishment.
 - “So your whole planet is already encased in an entire city?”
 - “Ah, yes, the capital is covered in an urban agglomeration. Daonlathas was the first world of the Empire, and thus it has grown over the several milleniae of our nation’s existence to this state. 2.2 trillion beings reside in this world, the most populous stellar body in the Empire and, as far as we aware, all the known sector. As the homeworld of our human species, the planet’s populace is majority-human, albeit sizable non-human minorities do exist due to Daonlathas’ importance to our country. Does your country possess a similar world to ours?”
 The Chancellor answered.
 - “Something like that. Cornucopia is a trade hub and is the closest planet like your capital we have to your capital. It has eight Spire Cities, which act as space elevators and the rest of the city is built around it. Though it only covers 40% of the planet, it has 750 billion people on it. At this rate we might overtake your capital in a few centuries. Though let us hope there won’t be need for competition then. So is the city built in multiple layers like ours? Or do you have different techniques?”
 As they got closer they became more and more amazed by the sight. The future of Cornucopia looked bright if it was to follow Daonlathas in its footsteps. Now it definitely showed potential. Glowing lights began to appear, though it still remained a mystery what those could be.
 - “City layers? Hmm, not in particular. I have not heard of such an architectural phenomenon. Due to the concerns of safety and transportation, it is not my belief that we possess any spire cities of such magnitude”
 The floating screen indicated that they were about to descend on Daonlathas’ atmosphere. The luxury yacht entered the planet and the Stoinians began to see the city’s landscape. Carl kept looking at the map in his screen, which had transitioned into a planetary map due to their location.
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellencies, we are now seeing the Colegia District, a section of the planet renowned for its prestigious universities. The Imperial Academy, considered by many to be the best institution of higher education in all of our territories, should be coming into view”

 As they descended it became clear that the glowing lights were in fact floating cars. How many were there? How could this be better than vertical transportation in Spire Cities? It all puzzled the Stoinians and it was quite visible that they were in shock. The King responded.
 - “Please forgive us, it is quite a view to take in all at once, while your repulsor cars float around in the air. I must say this university is quite a view, though I imagine the ideas in it must be far brighter.”
 Meanwhile he had realised the map had changed. This holographic technology was quite advanced, more to than the Treecuu it seemed.
 - “Indeed, I myself am a product of the Academy itself. It is the brightest light in this nation, or so I believe. Around these parts, these ‘repulsor cars’ you refer to are called speeders or hovercraft. Beg your pardon, Your Majesty, but do you not possess any such modes of transportation? They are quite common across our Empire”
 - “We do, but not on this scale. We are still re-engineering some left over Velutarians technology. I suspect that such speeders will likely appear on our own markets within 5 years, but all in good time. It will also take some time for legislation to allow such vehicles to be used as it implies new aerial traffic laws. Though I am sure the engineers will come up with something. If any of them are as brilliant as our Chancellor once was starting a new company on a forsaken planet.”
 The King smiled as he looked towards the Chancellor for they were good friends this long into the Chancellor’s first term. The Chancellor replied jokingly to the King.
 - “Well, being a Legate before running for election sure does help the polls.”
 - “I understand that your university is quite cherished, but how does one enter it?”
 - “How interesting. In the Empire, these vehicles were created thousands of years ago, if I recall”
 - “Regarding your inquiry, the Imperial Academy receives millions upon millions of applications every year from prospective youth. They determine who shall enter and who shall not by analyzing their Imperial High Test and Analytic Imperial Test results, their GPA, and an essay they must submit for review. This is the first stage, for those ‘finalists’ selected to continue on to the second stage are interviewed by the Academy and they conduct in-depth investigations into an applicant’s life. There are also other tests conducted to carefully select the candidates for admission. It is up to the university to accept or reject these finalists after extensive review and consideration. The sole official exception is the Emperor or their children, for they are granted automatic entry into the Academy if they so wish it”
 Of course, if he told them he had gotten there by his family’s patronage they would be horrified, or at least pretend to be.
 Carl was a brilliant person, there was no doubt about it. However, his intelligence was augmented by his family, for he was born into a prestigious and extremely wealthy noble house. He was educated in the best schools and had the best educational resources available to him since his early infancy. If it were not for that financial support from birth, he would have never even gotten close to stepping foot at the Imperial Academy. How fortunate and how unfortunate it all was, no?
 - “It seems we are less intrusive in the lives of our students then.”
 The Chancellor replied.
 - “Though I am sure you have good reason for it.”
 As they Stoinians awaited the diplomat’s response as they flew closer to the next attraction from the tour.
 - “Oh, such an intensive screening does not occur in less prestigious universities, for an average college’s student population is mostly local. However, these top institutions receive millions upon millions of applications from all the corners of the Empire. They have a reputation to uphold, and thus they are incredibly careful in ensuring they admit the best of the best”
 - “Now we are approaching the famous Moonlight District. It is filled with luxurious stories, fabulous amenities and elegant buildings. If you wish to shop anywhere and you possess an incredible amount of wealth, that is the place to go”
 The Queen responded to the diplomat’s offer as they were told setting foot on the planet was out of the question.
 - “Perhaps another time as we aren’t allowed to land.”
 - “I am sure in due time we can visit it ourselves, my love. Relations are going well between our nations.”
 As the Stoinians looked down upon the many stores it seemed as though they could see the goods shining from the stores. The Chancellor was curious on what exactly was the contents of these district.
 - “Quite a sight, but what exactly is sold in these store?”
 - “Oh, a torrent of goods are for sale down there. Luxury clothes and clothing modifiers, shoes, fashion appliances, paintings and other works of art, furniture, electronics, house appliances, fine china, silver wear, jewelry, rugs, speeders, trivial foodstuffs, there are some restaurants and beauty salons as well…I could go on and on, but I would tire myself silly before I conclude with my remarks. Anything you could possibly imagine is there. The consumables sold are extremely expensive and of the finest grade of quality. Many items are crafted by reputable artisans. There are even some stores where you can place a custom order for an artisan to construct if what you search for is not present in the store, but consumer goods manufactured by an artisan are incredibly costly. There is a joke amongst some which goes like so: ‘if you wish to survive in Moonlight, have the ISB spy on your wallet’”.
 - “I see what is quite common for us has become a luxury for you ot seems. We too have lavish artisans, but most are quite affordable and barely of any notice to receive a full district on the capital. Though I imagine all these goods come from across the Empire and made by the best. I surely hope we get to visit it one day. Seeing the different artisanship from all species …”
 The Chancellor was lamenting the fact the government had refused for them to set foot on Daonlathas, but the Stoinians will prove more receptive at the right time.
 - “We were once like you, but our industries have become highly automated. Complex systems can memorize conventional artisan methods and styles, thus manufacturing products that would have been considered expensive luxuries mere centuries before, driving many otherwise talented artisans out of business. Thus, the few artisans that survive financially still are those who can best the machine in elegance and quality or those who craft items from obscure and/or incredibly complicated schools of artistry and crafting. Due to their rarity and their limited consumer base, an item constructed by an artisan is both incredibly luxurious and incredibly costly”
 - “Oh don’t get us wrong. Our industry is also automated, but certain products are best made with a soul. Our view on artisanry has been kept unchanged and widespread rather than left to history. They preserve Terran culture and it would be foolish for us to wipe them out as part of our Terran heritage would disappear with them. You probably already know that we aren’t to keen to dismay those traditions so easily. Even for the efficiency of the economy.”
 The King answered staunchly and with a proud tone in his bariton voice.
 - “If I may, traditions come and go, Your Majesty, and they must benefit the people in an optimal fashion, for our traditions are only as strong as the people that uphold it. What were the most exquisite of rugs and furniture for the ancient nobility thousands of years ago can now be purchased by the average middle-class Ryccian citizen. Is that not a triumph of progress and modernity? I suppose everyone has their own opinion on the matter, however”
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, you can now see a key financial centre of our Empire, the Legada District. In here, several of the Empire’s largest stock markets, banks and other financial institutions of importance and prestige are located. Trillions upon trillions of credits flow in and out of there each day”
 - “Perhaps so, but those traditions you are quite keen to let go into obscurity are what define us in part. One cannot be Stoinian without traditions. Let me put it simply: traditions is in my people’s bones.”
 The Queen and the Chancellor nodded in agreement. What would this aristocrat know what defines a Stoinian and the hardships they had endured? Even if he was a Ryccian xeno, they wouldn’t have suffered the same as the Stoinians did…
 As the yacht flew closer to Legeda District it became clear that the Ryccian had an advanced and well fairing economy. The King took note of it and was already on a large trade route from the Star Kingdom to Daonlathas. One that would stand the test of time and bring peace and prosperity. The Chancellor too would try to capitalise on this and responded.
 - “I see the Ryccian are quite well versed on economic matters. Let us hope that one day both our stock markets would be linked to one another.”
 - “Where there is amity, there is prosperity. That is a noble sentiment, Your Excellency. As a member of a financially powerful family, I can confirm that we are indeed versed in economic affairs most excellently. Perhaps we have much to learn from one another in the matters of commerce, but that is as of yet to be determined by the inevitable tides of fate”
 - “Versed most excellently” was a nice way to put the Charlotte-Imperial’s vast economic and political connections. He had never desired to walk the path of business, but, as he was a member of this prestigious house, he certainly knew more than he let on. Whilst he was not involved in it himself, the Charlotte-Imperial family was powerful enough to bribe, manipulate, patronize or doom anyone they wished to. He had heard stories from his siblings and cousins…extorting or bribing local politicians, spying on rival companies, manipulating elections and the media…you name it. Carl was not fazed by this, as this was the way it has always been, and it shall forever remain so. He only asked to be left out of the action and drama of his family, for he did not wish to live such a life. His dream was to be a diplomat, and gosh darn it he was going to be one.
 Carl thought of it all. These monarchs, this Chancellor…how much did they know of their own country’s elite? How many strings did they pull? None like the Emperor? Some? Or did they pull them all like the aristocrats of old and the aristocrats of the new age? He could not trust them, for, in a way, he was one of them.
 Upon seeing the Legada District, he was reminded of his family. How many business deals were being made there by his own kin, how many crimes were they committing? Were they ordering an assassination today? Despite the ruthless nature of the Ryccian titans of finance, they seldom ordered them, but, for those who were privileged enough to have been born in the wealthiest families of the Empire, they were not unheard of. Whatever they are doing, Carl thought it was best he was not involved in those acts. He did not have the stomach for it, for he wished to live the peaceful life of a civil servant. He had negotiated peaceful resolutions between planets. He had even negotiated with crime organizations and the like. Even that was more serene and clean than what his blood was capable of doing.
 He was thinking too much on it all. Looking at the glittering skyscrapers and the beautiful skyline of Daonlathas distracted him from his own mind. Let the trip continue.
 - “All in due time.”
 The King saw the diplomat was distracted for a moment. He didn’t quite know what to make of it. Was he lamenting something? He didn’t consider it his place to inquire on it and left the diplomat to his own. Admiring the view as the tour continued.
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, we have the honour to gaze at the luxurious residences of Taion District, an area dotted with affluent residences. The capital’s wealthiest can often be found here”
 The glitzy towers for luxury apartments were there, but also affluent suburbia, which contrasted starkly with the rest of the metallic planet. Palace-like mansions could be seen, and rows upon rows of gated suburban green and its adjacent constructions were also visible. The property prices here were enormous, and thus only the elite lived in this district. To have a house in the Taion District was a defining trait for a local aristocrat, but there was a curious exception, as a hereditary noble family who had fallen on “hard times” owned a small mansion passed down through the generations. They were the poorest residents of the district, but even they were not truly poor, as the noble family was upper middle-class.
 The buildings did stand out compared to what they had seen compared to the other districts. Luxury was indeed the norm here.
 - “Quite beautiful. Tell me what makes these residences luxurious. Is it the location, materials used or the reputation of the district?”
 The Chancellor was quite intrigued and wanted to better understand the concept of Ryccian luxury.
 - “Oh, it is all that and more, Your Excellency. Some estates were constructed thousands of years ago, but many residences are historically recent, either due to renovations fundamental to a house’s structure or because of demolitions of archaic buildings. If I may provide an example, my family owns an estate in Taion that has been passed down through the generations, but it has been renovated so many times in its history that only a few aspects of the property retain their original characteristics. The Taion District is calibrated with artificial weather technologies so it may enjoy optimal living conditions”
 - “There are more defining attributes to a truly luxurious home. The facilities often include fantastical and/or supernatural features. For example, there may be a considerable amount of suspended liquid as décor. The most common material used is water, which is often dyed with luminiscent colours so it may emit light in the dark. Some homeowners configure a confined area to create fountains of otherwise dangerous or impractical materials, such as melted metals of various kinds, champagne, sparkling water, liquid nitrogen, and so on. The gravity can be adjusted to one’s own liking, you may perfume your residence with whatever scent you desire, a virtual reality feature of the walls can camouflage your surroundings into any scenery you could possibly wish for…there are an incredibly large amount of trivial details, and thus I shall not bore you, for I merely wish to grant you a glimpse into the life at Taion, not an entire odyssey of endless minutiae”
 - “Quite the eccentricities…”
 The Stoinians were shocked to hear that alcoholic beverages were used as decorations. Although the suspended water showed some promise as fountains were common in the Star Kingdom, none would dare to make one with other than water as its liquid. The Ryccians were advanced on many fronts, but it seemed their elite used it for the smallest ordeals to give them the look of luxury. That much had been made clear by now. They remained silent as they looked at the Taion District.
 Ah, yes, the common accusation of “eccentricity”.
 Due to the fact that Carl had to work with persons beneath his status in the Foreign Ministry, he had often heard this jibe in conversations. However, given the current state of technological advancement, he did not see it as such. Rather, he saw it as yet another style of décor, and he even took pride in it a bit, as the powers of matter could now be manipulated to beautify and enhance a lovely home. Simply put, if it looks pretty or mesmerizing, why not?
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, we have now arrived at the Tigon District, an area renowned for its quality restaurants. Here, many of the Empire’s most proficient culinary experts dazzle their customers with endless delight for the senses, both in style and in flavour”
 - “Can we expect similar suspended water in these restaurants? Thinking of it… This could solve a problem of refilling your drinks. Though I imagine the hosts won’t be too keen on the idea. I imagine the food in these restaurants is exotic like what we were served on Constantinople. Am I correct in that these restaurants use your pink fluid?”
 The Chancellor jokingly said. He played with the idea, but likely it would be too absurd for the Ryccians. From an economic standpoint it didn’t make much sense, but then again. Puking your food also wasn’t the brightest economic idea. The King would also remember his conversation with the journalist that had entered the palace grounds.
 - “I recall from a conversation that middle class Ryccians are given state sanctioned vacations to these restaurants. Is that here or in other place?”
 - “As we have easy access to foodstuffs due to our advanced technologies, restaurants have been forced to adapt, either making use of high-quality droid workers or they make art of the cooking process itself. The most famous culinary experts in those restaurants not only prepare your food, but they also put up a show, dazzling their customers with an artistic performance of their cooking. You are able to see the food being prepared in real time, and the cooks make great efforts for the preparation to be as beautiful and aesthetically charming as possible. In the restaurants of the elite, preparing food is not only an art, but a spectacle”
 - “A few restaurants do partake in the use of suspended liquids for the purposes of entertainment. If I may provide an example, I visited a restaurant not too long ago where they manipulated my wine to form a silhouette of a dancing performer. The wine particles were made to perform a little charming dance in front of my eyes and then they finished by directing themselves into my glass, losing their manipulated form and turning back into regular, unsuspended wine”
 - “Your Excellency, you are indeed correct that the roseven liquid is widely used. There is a soundproof room for…er, expelling the excess food to make room anew, and thus you are not heard whilst you undertake that…um, exercise. This is not the only area where our lucky lower and middle-class citizens go to dine, for the Core and some planets in The Rim have these kinds of high-class restaurants. The Tigon District is just famous for being one of the best areas for fine dining in the entire country, and thus state-funded vacations to Daonlathas’s ritzy districts are highly-prized, as most of the best of the best can be found right here in the capital”
 - “Well imagine that, first your wine dances for you and then your drink it. I’m sure the Tozorians will love this.”
 The Chancellor replied with interest with a somewhat comical tone. He still couldn’t quite put it to words yet.
 - “I’m sure they would love this place John, just give it some time. As for your state mandated vacations, I must admit it is an interesting idea. Though I don’t quite see how it could work in the Star Kingdom. We prefer to earn, not to be given.”
 That wasn’t entirely true, but the majority of Stoinians did feel that way.
 - “When you cannot earn through normal circumstances, perhaps it is not so shameful to be given”
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, we are now approaching the Maruz District, an area responsible for most of the capital’s industrial capacity. As you are able to appreciate, factories hum day and night, manufacturing products for the market. The Maruz District used to be the greatest industrial area in the Empire thousands of years ago, but as other planets rose in prominence and the Core worlds emphasized other industries such as finance, the importance of Daonlathas as an industrial titan declined. Be not deceived, however, for the industrial capacity of the Maruz District retains its strength nonetheless, and its manufacturing prowess is nothing to scoff at”
 The King replied with solid scepticism in his voice.
 - “I see. Perhaps an idea worth challenging ours.”
 As the Maruz District came into view, the Stoinians were taken by surprise by the size of the industrial zone. It was as far the eye could see and at least 10 times larger than the largest industry zone the Stoinians have, excluding Kuatis of course. The Chancellor was most impressed.
 - “I would be wrong to assume that this isn’t the sole large industrial zone of the Ryccian Empire, correct? I imagine dozens of planets must have similar installations.”
 - “Indeed. As the Core’s days of industrial dominance are gone, such prominent centres of manufacturing can now be found in regions such as The Rim, New Daonlathas, Wider Ryccia, the Velpan Rim and the Kaminoan Rim most prominently. These regions, as the industrial behemoths that they are, are a large contributor of our total manufacturing, but they do not monopolize the sector, as industrial worlds can be found all across the Empire”
 - “Your Majesties, Your Excellency, we are now approaching the last leg of our tour pertaining to the most important districts of the capital. The Executive District should be coming into view. This is the beating heart of the Empire’s national government, with a majority of government ministries, the Senate, the Empire’s most important national courts of law and the Imperial Palace all being located here”
 The Imperial Palace was ancient in design, and it was colossal in size. It stood out from all the other buildings of the area, as it was a lush, verdant island of the old the middle of a modern, metallic sea. Despite all the renovations, reconstructions and new constructions over the millenia in the planet, this palace, which was the oldest building in the world still functioning, stood as a reminder of an age now long past and long forgotten.
 The other governmental buildings were majestic on their own. Some were constructed in the Late Old Empire, and others were more recent. They were opulent in the more historically recent styles that were a familiar sight across the capital. The whole district was a testament to how far the Ryccian Empire had gone and how long it had stood. A beauty with the charms of the old and the new.
 The Stoinians looked astonishingly at the Imperial Palace. It was as if their architecture was pasted in the Executive District of the Ryccian Empire! The Royal Palace in Sinaia was practically similar to it, though less grand. Perhaps one day the King may set his foot there and enjoy tea with his Ryccian counterpart. This revelation visibly confused the Stoinians and they couldn’t quite find the words for it.
 - “Well the architect of the Imperial Palace certainly deserves our compliments. What a marvellous piece of architecture!”
 The Chancellor and Queen smiled at the King’s apparent joke, though the Ryccian likely wouldn’t understand it. The tour would however come to its end and as they left Daonlathas’ orbit, they admired the city landscape from space again. They returned back to orbit around Constantiople and docked with the King’s flagship as the preparations for the long journey home were done. They thanked the Ryccian Ambassador for his time and tour of the Capital. The Chancellor even stated that if the Ryccians would want to introduce the Ambassador’s yacht to the Stoinian market, that he would be happy to introduce them to the right people in the Star Kingdom. The King’s visit had ended on a positive note compared to the many cultural differences between the two people which were made obvious during his stay. Now the King was on his way to Ecteen for he had an important announcement to make concerning cooperation with the Treecuu. In the end, the King’s visit was a success and the foundations for foreign relations and cooperation have been set.
 Times are changing for the sector and for the Stoinian people. May God help us in strengthening the bond with our Terran brethren…