[2 BBT] The Herald-King

OOC Note:
Reposting of the original thread from the past forums.
Characters of the Treecuu Star Empire have respectively been RP’ed by @Qwert

 The young Admiral Graciano Marino Garibaldi had served for five years in command of the 7th Exploratory Fleet. Always looking up to the stars wondering what’s out there as a small child. Of course his wish had already became true when he served together with the Cheunh to hunt down the damned Mardakii. Of Course he was but a Captain then, but now it somehow felt different. He was in charge of a whole fleet this time, something he still couldn’t quite believe. What he didn’t know however is that his dream would come a reality again.
 A small beep sound came from the Communications Console. Everyone on the bridge paused for a moment, all of them wondering what it might be. Lieutenant Shani Hoshi looked with astonishment at the console.
 - “Well what is it Lieutenant? Do you plan to keep us all waiting for eternity?” the Admiral asked.
 - “Sir, … It’s … I think it’s a message. It’s repeating itself, but … I can’t make any sense from it, I believe our computers aren’t familiar with the language. I can pin point it’s origin, Sir.”
 The Admiral smiled. “Well Lieutenant, it looks like we have a first contact situation on our hands. Relay the message to the linguistics at Dragonfire. While you are at it, inform the Piercer, the Gondwana and the Clinton to meet us here. We do not know what we are dealing with here and I don’t like to repeat previous mistakes. Ah, before I forget the Cole Protocol. Send out entire English language alphabet and vocabulary to the buoy. Let’s see who has the better linguistics department.”

 General Iulia Tudor was drinking her tea in her ready room on Dragonfire. Her doorbell rang. She let out a sigh, but responded in accordance: “Open.”
 Colonel Igor Poroshenko came in.
 - “Ma’am, you might want to look at this.” He put his datapad on her desk.
 The General was surprised.
 - “Well, well, well. This certainly does make my day, or tea at least. Send the message to linguistics, inform the King we have a first contact situation at the northern border. Put the soldiers on alert to support readiness. We don’t know how this might end up. Dismissed, Colonel.”
 The Colonel nodded and left the room immediately after the proper salute. The General took a sip again from her tea, yet it wasn’t quite the same anymore.

 King Andrei was wondering about his palace, he had a long and tiresome day. He was headed towards his bedroom and finally rest for the day. However, Strategos Douglas Hague just came out of the last corner. To the King’s surprise, the Strategos had come to personally meet him.
 - “Tell me Mr. Hague, what is so important that you came personally from East Point to disturb my sleep.”
 The Strategos smiled for a moment.
 - Oh well do not worry Sir. I know that sleep is important, but I can’t let this be delayed. It looks like the Cole Protocol is in effect, Sir."
 The King took the datapad from the Strategos. He read the message and looked back and forth between the datapad and the Strategos.
 - “Well it sure looks like it. Let’s get this started then. Strategos, I believe you will remain here. Order the Manticore to prepare for departure. I will pack my things and join them shortly.”
 - “Sir, I must protest. You cannot go, we only got out of the Velutarian War. Do not make the same mistake as your Father, may God forgive him.”
 - “Douglas, my dear friend. I cannot let this happen, it will be over soon I promise. Besides, we have bigger guns now and much better technology.”
 - “Sir, the Manticore may be big, but it isn’t the biggest. I will order the Eternity to come along with you.”
 - “Ah Douglas, I will grant you that. It will be my ace in the hole if things should go sour.” The King smiled at the Strategos. “Now go get some sleep. Once I have informed my family I will depart at once.”
 - “Very well Sir.” He saluted the King and went his way.

 A week had passed and the King’s entourage had met in an unclaimed system 5 light years from the buoy’s origin. With assistance from Cheunh linguistics a lot of progress was made, but they couldn’t sure.
 - “Lieutenant is the language matrix ready yet?” King Andrei asked.
 - “Yes, Sir. Ready when you are.”
 - “Very well then. Send this message: This is King Andrei Casarion of the Stoinian Star Kingdom. We are currently in system Gliese-7645, just 5 light years from the buoy which we first met. We would like to know who and what you are? We wish to get to know our new galactic neighbours. Be advised that we will enter the buoy system in 16 of our hours. Now if you were to fire upon our ships without provocation, we will return the gesture. However as a gesture of good faith, we will enter your system with closed gun ports and shields down. I advise you do not, I repeat do not misuse this gesture. End transmission.”
 A brief pause hanged in the air. Everyone was tensed up for what was to come in 16 hours. Eventually King Andrei turned to the crew.
 - “Well then, let’s hope this doesn’t end up like last time. Inform the Eternity that it will not go with us in the buoy system. May God help us all.”

Remote Fleet Ship (RFS) Oteel somewhere near the border

 Captain Tuuc narrowed his eyes to get a glimpse of what was being displayed on his communications officer’s computer. The young communications officer had been joined by other members of the bridge staff and they seemed to be whispering.
 - “Problems, ensign?” yelled Tuuc over the bridge, slightly annoyed.
 The ensign blushed.
 - “I am not sure captain. It might be the latest patch that is acting up, but it almost looks like the signal is Ryccian! The patch should only have added the main language of those Ryccian huymaans to the library, but now every signal is interpreted as that language…” She looked at her captain, not sure what to do next.
 - “Does the computer provide a translation?”
 - “Yes. It is a class 4 translation, only minor stylistic discrepancies.”
 - “Let us hear it then!”
 The ensign cleared her throat and read the message from the Stoinian king out loud.
 - “The Ryccians failed to mention this… Or Command…” the captain noted, deep in thought. He then stood up from his chair.
 - “Attention. Orders!”
 The bridge crew turned towards the captain.
 - “Comm, relay message to Command, confirm receipt, report our actions and request new orders. Helm, calculate most likely entry coordinates for the Setoy-nee-aan ship, plot course and take us there at maximum speed. Tactical, all shields at full, allow computer autonomous self-defence fire. Execute!”
 It would take about two standard hours to get there. That would give Command plenty of time to think of a good answer, both a verbal one, but also in terms of “hardware”. His ship would remain silent and not send a response to the Stoinians until then.
 The RFS Oteel made an elegant turn towards the southern border, then there was a flash of bright light and it disappeared.
 The jump towards the system had been completed. The Stoinians had arrived inside someone’s backyard. The question was, whose? The small fleet of five ships maintained a diamond shape formation. Shields were down and gun ports closed as ordered. King Andrei stood on the Manticore’s bridge, a general uneasiness could be felt in the air. Admiral Garibaldi came beside him.
 - “Sir, … With all due respect. But I think we should at least keep our shields up.”
 - “I feel your concern Admiral, but I believe this sends a stronger message than just closed gun ports. Besides our shields can be activated quickly , if I am not mistaken.”
 - “Yes Sir, but we have to think of the thousands of lives here. Especially yours, Sir.”
 - “I agree, Admiral. But I gave whoever’s backyard this is my word that our shields would be down. If the King of our nation can’t keep up his word, then what kind of first impression would this be. We would lose all credibility we would have. Only our swords would speak, may God prevent this from happening. ETA if the Eternity has to jump in?”
 - “One and a half hour, Sir. It will be some time, we would have to put up a good fight.”
 - “Good, notify them to make their jump. Hopefully we won’t need its firepower, but let’s not repeat our mistakes. Lieutenant Hoshi.”
 - “Yes Sir.” Hoshi quickly stood at attention.
 - “Repeat this message on all open channels in both their and our language: This is King Andrei of the Stoinian Star Kingdom. We have arrived at your system. We mean you no harm. We just want to open a dialogue. Our shields will remain down for the time being, our gun ports will also be closed. I repeat, we mean you no harm. End transmission.”
 Then a voice from one of the bridge crew said: “Sir, I am picking up something on sensors.”
 Soon the Stoinians would learn what their new neighbours really are like.
 The RFS Oteel, which could be described as a white shiny cigar with wings if you had humour, appeared seemingly out of nowhere in front of the Stoinian formation. It assumed a posture where it exposed its hull, a move which was supposed look nonchalant and fearless. Then it initiated high-energy scans of the Stoinian ships.
 Upon completing the scans, it sent out a response to the king’s message in both Anglish and Treecuu Common.
 - “Would this king be the head of state and/or head or government of the Stoinian Star Kingdom?” a neutral voice asked, without introducing itself.
 - King Andrei smiled for a moment. It had finally happened. He then proceeded to answer the call in both their languages.
 - “That is correct. The King serves as the Head of State, Military and Government. May I ask whose backyard we have just entered? If possible, I would like it to be face-to-face. We mean you no harm. We just want to open a dialogue.”
 He then turned to Admiral Garibaldi.
 - “Admiral, ETA of the Eternity?”
 - “One hour, Sir.”
 - “Good do not inform them of the situation, maintain a radio silence. We do not wish to give them a reason to shoot at us.”
 The crew remained worried while waiting for an answer.
 Captain Tuuc allowed himself to relax a bit. No shields, weapons inactive, and that king actually sounded friendly. He pushed a button on his captain’s chair and answered. But he had to stick to protocol.
 - “This is the Treecuu Star Empire. We claim all the space on this side of the buoy system. I advise you to hold your position, continuing farther into our space will be seen as an act of aggression.”
 - “A representative of our government is on his way here. In the meantime, let us meet on your ship.”
 Captain Tuuc didn’t say when the government representative would arrive, neither did he introduce himself.
 A sigh of relief could be heard all over the bridge. The King smiled, it had finally gone smooth this time.
 - “This is King Andrei. We accept your terms we will hold our ships and won’t proceed further in your territory. We will send you the docking procedures and the necessary vectors for a shuttle to hangar bay 2 of the Manticore. We will await you there.”
 - “I shall begin preparations, Sir.” Admiral Garibaldi said.
 - “Good Admiral, make sure the Royal Band is there to play our national anthem. Send a message to the Eternity. Tell them to hold their current position. First contact is going smoothly.”
 He then turned to the rest of the crew.
 - “Well then people, move it. We have an impression to make. On the double!”
 The crew responded in unison and quickly started preparations. Minutes later the Royal Guard stood ready and formed two lines on both sides from the red carpet designated for the Treecuu shuttle. The Royal Band was at the ready, waiting for the conductor’s sign to begin. The King and Admiral Garibaldi already stood on their end of the red carpet. Both holding their sheathed swords while waiting for the Treecuu to arrive. Behind them a young woman who holds a cushion with a large covered object on it. Just eight minutes after the Treecuu’s signal, the 1.6 km long dreadnought was fully prepped for a ceremonial welcome of the Treecuu.
 Only a few months ago the Treecuu would have engaged and destroyed any ship entering its space, and then have the nation of origin apologise for the intrusion, and after that, maybe have a peaceful dialogue. The new foreign policy following the annexation of the Aryyt’t homeworld and the possible international outrage was a radical change. Now the Treecuu should try and make new friends.
 Captain Tuuc wasn’t satisfied with his new role as a stand-in diplomat. But there was nothing in the new protocol which forbid him to don his tactical vest and leg holstered sidearm. A squad of eight soldiers equipped with the latest rifles accompanied him in the shuttle too. He was after all an officer of the Remote Fleet, the shield and sword of the Empire!
 The shuttle approached hangar bay 2 at a seemingly reckless speed, only braking at the very last minute. It was important to show that this was Treecuu space, and that they did as they pleased. After having landed Tuuc was tempted to let the aliens wait for a while, but seeing the full military honours they had prepared he quickly changed his mind. He ordered the squad to exit the shuttle, form a line facing the king, and stand at attention. He then climbed out and stood in front of his soldiers, also facing the King. He waited.
 A few moments had passed, but once the xeno Officer had made it clear that it would stand there, the Royal Band began to play the Stoinian National Anthem. The trumpets and basses blasted through the hangar bay. With all Royal Guardsmen putting their right hand on the left part of their chest.
 - “I for one expected them to show a little more respect, Sir. Blasting this manner into our hangars, they should be thankful we didn’t shoot them.” Admiral Garibaldi grunted. Although he still was excited like a small child to finally meet a new species.
 - “We gave them the vectors, Admiral. Besides, it’s probably a statement. We are in their territory with five of our ships after all. But I believe once we give them the gift, they will show their true nature.”
 The anthem had finished and the noise could still be heard thanks the reverberation.
 - “Hail to Mankind! Hail to the Stoinian Star Kingdom! Hail to the King! Ura!” Shouted the Guardsmen in unison as was their tradition.
 As soon as the shouting had stopped, the Admiral moved forward.
 - “Attention!” He shouted and the two lines of Royal Guardsmen moved in unison and stood in a prideful manner. Chest forward, chin high. The Stoinians hoped that all this would impress the xenos.
 - “Present, swords!” Again in unison the Guardsmen unsheathed their swords and presented their swords in front of them.
 The King and the Admiral walked slowly towards the xeno Officer, followed by Lieutenant Hoshi who held the gift. As soon as the King passed the Guardsmen, they dropped their sword to just a few inches above the ground. Once they arrived in front of the xeno Officer, the King presented himself.
 - “I am King Andrei Casarion of the Stoinian Star Kingdom.” He pointed his hand towards the Admiral and Lieutenant Hoshi. “This is Admiral Graciano Marino Garibaldi and Lieutenant Shani Hoshi. They were the first who detected the signal of your buoy. I see that you could have easily translated our messages. I can only hope that our linguists did a fine job as well. Nonetheless, I present you a gift in the name of the Stoinian people.”
 The Admiral quickly took the cover from the gift.
 - “This is the skull of a Mardakii. A brutish nomadic xeno who once invaded our planet, but through perseverance we have overcome them. We now have special reservations in which we hunt them. Only the most skilful hunters may hunt these animals, once a year. Such a hunt is what we call a Great hunt. This skull was retrieved during this year’s Great Hunt. To receive such a skull is considered one of the greatest gifts amongst my people. Hopefully you and your kind can appreciate the gesture.” He said calmly, not sure how they would react to a smiling face.
 Lieutenant Hoshi went further and presented the skull, which was four times the size of hers. She was proud to present it. Chest forward, a high chin and looking straight forward, but not quite at the xeno Officer. Waiting for it to take the gift.

A Mardakii skull.

 - “Now I understand that this is the Treecuu Star Empire’s backyard, but we never got your name. If you would be so kind to present yourself, Officer. After all, it isn’t much of a dialogue if I don’t know who I am talking to.”
 Tuuc had enjoyed the small ceremony, but wasn’t sure how to interpret the gift. Either it truly was such a great gift as the King said, or it was a fancy way of telling the Treecuu not to mess with the Stoinians. He bowed slightly and took the gift.
 He curiously examined the skull. There were rumours of macabre gifts being exchanged by The Treecuu governors, such as the “clipped wings” from the Bicaan avians, but it could also be hearsay. Either way, his governor would likely be thrilled.
 “Congratulations on having defeated such a brutish enemy, it must have been a fierce fight. And a glorious victory. I thank you on behalf of the Governor and the Treecuu people” Tuuc answered. He called for one of his soldiers and ordered her to take care of the gift with great care.
 - “Your Highness, I am Captain Tuuc of the Oteel of the 1st Remote Fleet of the Treecuu Star Empire” Tuuc answered, bowing slightly in the direction of the King.
 - “Even though Your way of seeking first contact is… unusual… I would like to extend a warm welcome.”
 - “Thank you very much. And yes we are quite the confrontational people. We didn’t know if a mere message would give us any results. We prefer to face our enemies directly in combat, no scheming and backstabbing. Now we didn’t know how your kind would react, so we had to be prepared. I am sure you can understand our perspective. Though I am very glad it didn’t end that way.” The King said with a small smile.
 He then dismissed the Royal Band, the Admiral and the whole Royal Guard, except for two Guardsmen.
 - “Any new information about your official representative? In the meantime I would suggest we take a tour of our ship, the Manticore. Perhaps learn a bit more of your people and yourself. I’d like to hear the perspective of a fellow military man. Of course, if that would be allowed by your government.”
 Tuuc dismissed his squad with a swift hand signal, then he had a look at a small device on his wrist.
 -“The Candact Mandate Fleet Ship Thil will arrive here with Governor Seect in 49.8 standard minutes” he concluded.
 - “A tour of Your Majesty’s ship would be a great honour” smiled Tuuc.
 - “Very well, Captain. Please follow me.” The King said walking towards the elevator, whilest sending the preparations for the governor’s arrival through a small datapad. Soon they entered the elevator and headed for the bridge.
 - “Well then, Captain. As you are a military man yourself, perhaps you can tell me a bit more of your Treecuu Star Empire? Maybe an overview of your military, since that would be your expertise. No need to say any details, we understand. It’s our protocol to keep our military outpost a secret at all cost, even from the civilian elements of our nation.” He looked at the Captain inquisitively.
 As they walked Tuuc put his hands behind his back palm in palm, a slightly arrogant posture.
 - “Our military is composed three independent fleet services and ground troops with inter-system mobility. As I already said, my ship belongs to the Remote Fleet which guards our borders, but it is also used to secure new systems. Then each mandate, which is the first tier administrative division of the Star Empire, has its own fleet for strategic defence. The second tier administrative division is the system, and all of them have fleets for local tactical defence.”
 - “Would Your Highness indulge me with an overview of Your military?”
 The elevator had arrived at the bridge and the King marched forward, with his two guards stepped a bit forward as well. A small sign towards the Treecuu Captain to follow the King.
The King held his sword with his left hand and turned towards the Captain.
 - “Our military is run differently than yours. The Stoinian Military is entirely independent from our civilian government. The only thing that holds it together with the government is myself and the colonial department. This of course is to ensure complete operational freedom. The military holds rights to own entire planets and holds mandates for the first 15 years of a new colony’s development. Thus it mines resources for its war efforts and put colonial infrastructure and defences in place. Another fact, which may surprise you, is that our servicemen aren’t paid any loans. All the members on board this ship joined the military because it’s their calling and duty. We have mandatory conscription for all, but they mostly serve their service year on their local planets. The military is run self sufficiently, as you may have guessed.”
 - “It is lead by myself and the Strategos. The Strategos holds the same powers as I do, but I can overrule him if I so desire. He also serves as my military aide de camp. We two are then accompanied by the highest ranking officers in the Royal War Council in matters of utmost military importance and the Royal High Command sets the our decisions in motion. Then our forces are divided into three main branches: the Royal Navy, which also consists of the Marine Corps, the Royal Army, our main planetary based fighting force, and the Special Forces, who execute specialised missions.”
 He then waved his hand across the room.
 - “This is the bridge of the HMS Manticore, my personal vessel. Have a look around and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them.”
 The bridge was quite spacious and archaic by some other interstellar designs, but it was filled with servicemen looking at their monitors. Most of them wore a grey beret, except for one. The woman with the white beret stood and looked over bridge, not quite giving any attention to the newcomer.

 Was this a sign of trust? Tuuc would never have let strangers enter his bridge as it could reveal the information processing and decision making capability of his ship. He had to find out.
 - “As a Treecuu, I consider it a great honour to be shown your bridge, the very heart and brains of your ship. It is a very generous gesture in the Star Empire” smiled Tuuc.
 - “This looks like an efficient working environment. It looks like it has a similar structure as my bridge.”
 Tuuc nodded towards the woman with the white beret.
 - “Is she perhaps the captain?”
 - “Well showing the bridge is quite a standard protocol amongst my people. Though the reasoning for that has been lost in time. I guess we like to show off a bit, but I am very glad you can appreciate the gesture.”
 He then waved his hand towards the tall woman with the white beret.
 - “Yes that would be Captain Susan Ivanova. She is my XO and CO of the Manticore when I am away. Take it from me Captain, she is quite relentless.”
 Captain Ivanova was handed a datapad by a Cheunh Ensign. She turned to him and have him a small nod.
 - “Captain Ivanova.”
 Within an instant she turned completely facing the Treecuu and the King. Holding the datapad in her left hand behind her back, her chin high up in the air and her chest forward.
 - “This is Captain Tuuc of the Treecuu Star Empire. He is our current guest on the ship, I hope everything is going well with the ship’s operations.”
 Captain Ivanova came forward, barely dwarfing both the King and the Treecuu Captain. It was quite visible that her homeworld had a higher gravity than most. Her body was also muscular and broad for a woman another result from her homeworld’s gravity.
 - “Yes, Sir. As smooth as they’ll ever be under my Command.”
 She had quite a small Slavic accent which she couldn’t, but nonetheless she had a determined voice. She turned to the Treecuu and closed her eyes a bit. She decided to small smile, but it was quite visible that it was forced.
 - “Captain Susan Ivanova Petrov of HMS Manticore. Pleasure to meet you Captain Tuuc. Welcome aboard the Manticore, Captain. I hope our King hasn’t revealed too much of our operational procedures.”
 She handed out her hand, waiting to give the Treecuu a firm handshake.
 The handshake was common in the Star Empire as well and Captain Tuuc grabbed her hand firmly.
 - “The pleasure is mine, Captin” answered Tuuc. He looked at the king and smiled almost mischievously.
 - “His Majesty actually has revealed much more than I would have, letting a stranger enter your bridge! But I would be glad to return the favour. Perhaps when our government representative arrives I could return the favour and invite you over to the bridge of the RFS Oteel?” Tuuc asked the Terran captain.
 The Treecuu’s handshake had surprised Ivanova. It gave Ivanova the impression that the Treecuu shouldn’t not be messed with, perhaps they even had a lot in common with the Stoinians. King Andrei smiled and gave a small nod towards Captain Ivanova. Though she preferred the Manticore, her King had just given her an informal order. She remembered a discussion with Him, she needed to be more diplomatic He had said. She now could prove it!
 - “It would be my pleasure, Captain Tuuc. I assume two guards with me won’t insult you?”
 King Andrei interrupted them.
 - “Well, Captain Ivanova, since you two go along well, I suggest you finish the rest of Captain Tuuc’s tour of the ship. I will make further preparations for the Treecuu representative. I am sure Commander Popa will handle it.”
 He then turned to Tuuc.
 - “Before I forget, Captain. Does your Star Empire have an anthem? If so we would like the datafiles so that we can play it when Governor Seect arrives. I can’t guarantee our musicians can play it in time, but perhaps we could play it over our com systems. If that wouldn’t be offensive in any sort.”
 Ivanova nodded and showed Captain Tuuc around the bridge vaguely explaining what the different consoles’ functions were. Meanwhile the King prepared for another ceremonial visit bringing the Royal Band, the Royal Guards and the Marine Detachment up to speed.
 Captain Tuuc used the small device on his wrist to order the communications officer on the RFS Oteel to transmit an official recording of the anthem called the The Brightest Among All Stars as well as the scores and assured the king that no one would be offended if they let the computer play it.
 Captain Tuuc also confirmed that bringing guards to his ship would not be seen as an insult.

 While the capital of the Treecuu Star Empire was in the Ecteen System to the far east, many considered the Candact System the true heart of the Empire. It was the symbol of Treecuu success in technology and space exploration. Most importantly, it was from here the members of the Committee for the Expansion of the Empire and leading oligarchs exerted their power. Governorship over the Candact Mandate was the most prestigious and powerful office only second to Chairman of the Committee. At least unofficially and in reality.
 While the chairman and the mere figurehead of a president were in Ryccia for the ball, Governor Seect basically was in charge of the whole empire. Like most Treecuu governors he enjoyed leading from the “front line”, competing among themselves for prestige. He stood in front of the main viewscreen of the bridge of the flagship of the Remote Fleet, the RFS Vaan Candacteec gazing at the streaks of stars passing rapidly.
 Being a Treecuu insectoid, he was about half as tall as the average Treecuu mammalian. But the lack of an imposing posture was compensated by the menacing pair of black compound eyes. The flagship didn’t boast an impressing size either, but the governor was sure they would make a memorable impression.
 The stars on the viewscreen suddenly went stationary as the Vaan Candacteec dropped out of warp. Seect was confident it was a magnificent sight as the rest of his battlegroup arrived, ship by ship. Soon a total of 30 Yootuu-class cruisers formed at straight line facing the xeno ships. He personally hailed the alien lead ship.
 Commander Popa answered Governor Seect’s call, though he was a bit surprised by his appearance. An insectoid? He felt a shiver going through his spine. Nonetheless he had a ship to run and transmitted the vectors for hangar bay four. He informed the King, Captain Ivanova and Captain Tuuc of the Governor’s arrival. They all soon made their way towards hangar bay four.
 The Royal Guard again made two lines around a red carpet. The Royal Band stood at the left from where Governor Seect would arrive. Behind the Royal Band and the opposite side stood a full detachment of Stoinian Marines numbering into the hundreds. The hangar was also littered with Stoinian flags and insignia it was bound to make an impression.
 The Conductor of the Royal Band approached the King in a rather nervous manner.
 - “Your Majesty, we haven’t been able to decipher all of the scores of the Treecuu national anthem. I suggest we play it over the coms.”
 - “Very well, Alexander. Captain Tuuc assured us it won’t be an insult.”
 With that relief the Conductor only had to focus on the Stoinian National Anthem: Hear our Lion’s Roar! The Band could feel at ease, this time.
 The King handed Captain Tuuc a small device with a button on it.
 - “Captain Tuuc, I will give you the honours. When Governor Seect comes down from his shuttle simply press the button and your anthem will play over the comms systems. Afterwards our band will play our anthem and then you may proceed to hand over our gift. I assume you remember the importance of the skull.”
 At their end King Andrei had Admiral Garibaldi to his right and the two Captains to his left. Behind Tuuc, his assistants had the Mardakii skull waiting to hand it over to the Governor. The Governor’s shuttle approached the hangar. Hopefully Captain Tuuc didn’t press the button too soon.
 Tuuc pressed the button with military precision. The Brightest Among All Stars was a cheerful and optimistic piece of music, very different from the almost menacing march Righteous Youth that the rumour said the Committee wanted to make the official anthem instead. Perhaps Tuuc should have played it? He looked at the governor, but it was even harder at this distance than usual to read his insectoid face.
 When the band had finished playing both nations’ anthems, Tuuc approached the governor, who remained standing at his end of the carpet. Seect wore the same green uniform as the captain, although anatomically adapted to the different insectoid body. He presented the skull and its importance and clearly see it impressed the governor.
 The governor then approached the Stoinian king and spoke up.
 - “I thank You for this great gift and welcome You to the Treecuu Star Empire.”
 He then picked up a fist-sized orb from a pocket.
 - “Let me introduce the Candact Piece. It consists of an almost completely homogeneous, but there is a single vacancy defect. It migrates through the material without any outside influence at exactly the same frequency as the pulse radio waves have from our beloved neutron star, Candact. It is an accurate timepiece” the governor said, offering the orb to the king.
 The King waved his hand at Admiral Garibaldi. Soon after, the Admiral had taken the gift.
 - “In name of the Stoinian People, I thank you for this magnificent gift, Governor Seect. I suggest we move to a more secluded room. Please follow me.”
 After the two representatives had left the hangar with their respective escorts, Admiral Garibaldi dismissed all the Stoinian forces involved. Captain Ivanova was granted leave for a tour on the Treecu ship together with two Royal Guardsmen.
 Governor Seect nodded.
 - “President Cuul sends his regards. He is currently in the Ryccian Empire, a state we recently had a first contact with as well and now have formal relations with. Your kind seems to exist there too, though they call themselves Yuuman. A fascinating multicultural society…”
 The King seated Himself at one end of the tabe. The room wasn’t something fancy, just efficiently build for military lifestyle. Though the structure easily dwarfed Governor Seect.
 - “President? I would have guessed that the Treecuu Star Empire would have an Emperor. From where we come from, President is usually the head of a republican government. Though I could easily imagine your nation is build rather differently. Like the different fleets you have. What were they? Ah the Mandate and Remote fleets. Captain Tuuc told be about them, but I assure you he didn’t reveal any crucial information. Just a small overview from a military man’s perspective.”
 - “As for this Ryccian Empire. Did you mean humans? A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Though we prefer the term Terran, named after our homeworld Earth or Terra as we call it. We would be more than happy to learn anything about our human Ryccian brethren. Where would this Ryccian Empire be exactly? Feel free to use the monitor on the table. If you also have made contact with other star nations, please, show them as well.”
 The King pressed a few buttons and soon the sector map revealed itself. While the King remained calm, he was internally overjoyed to hear about their Terran brethren. How would they have evolved over the years? A million questions flew through the King’s head as the Governor located this Ryccian Empire. Mankind had spread its wings to the stars, ensuring its survival. But were there other threats? That remained to be seen.
 - “The southern regions of the Ryccian Empire is located about 700 LY north-northeast from here.”
 Seect swept across the map with his exoskeleton index finger showing the rough shape of the Ryccian Empire and its location.
 - “We have recently made contact with two interstellar nations, Pax Dracon and the Venterran Federation, located here and here” added Seect, showing the locations on the map. “They showed an intimate interest in our internal affairs after some fake news about the circumstances of the annexation of a planet spread in the sector.”
 - “Then our Empire borders several other nations that we know little about. We do know that many of them have placed potent military stations close to the border… Anyway, I would be happy to exchange star charts with you.”
 While the clicking of Seect’s exoskeleton against the monitor created a slight discomfort in the King’s stomach, he persisted to remain calm. The mammalians were quite acceptable. Captain Tuuc had made a good impression, but Seect’s appearance still made the Stoinians a bit discomforted.
 - “Any sort of star charts would be more than welcome. We would gladly give you ours, though there’s little to nothing interesting south to our border. Out there, there are only uncivilized barbarian races. Well there were the Velutarians, but they have been swept away.”
 He spoke with a rather proud tone. He wanted to make it clear that their military prowess shouldn’t be underestimated.
 - “Perhaps it is not our place to ask such a question, but could you tell us more about this annexation? We wouldn’t want to listen to the lies of other nations. I am sure that your perspective is more valuable than mere accusations.”
 He asked rather inquisitively. Staring at Governor Seect. He was curious about this annexation. Were the Treecuu the expanders? Was that why other nations had put military stations near their border?
 The Terrans were obviously proud of their military, they were monocultural, and then there was the Mardakii skull. Seect draw the conclusion that the Terrans expanded their borders with force and wanted to try a different tactic than the Committee advised: truth, or at least a narrative closer to the truth.
 - “To ensure the survival of the Treecuu and to secure enduring interstellar peace, we pacify and assume control of inhabited planets. Since we prevailed in the Great Calamities almost two hundred years go, where we were almost wiped out, we have continuously expanded our borders. Since then, there has been no interstellar war that threaten entire civilisations in space that we control.”
 - “The planet in question opposed our offer of annexation. To make their leaders reconsider, our military made flybys in their atmosphere in a show of force. Radicals on the planet detonated an antimatter device that not only destroyed all our ships, but also wiped a whole continent of theirs clean. They blamed us for their reckless actions.”
 Indeed. Peace through order. Order through domination. Domination through strength. That was the Treecuu way.
 The King looked at Seect for a few moments, guessing whether he was lying or not.
 - “Thank you for your honesty, Governor. We Stoinians know more than anyone else that an order has to be imposed. Without order our nation would have fallen time and time again. Order needs to be imposed on savages to ensure survival. These insurrectionist you speak of, we would gladly help to deal with them as a sign of good faith. Terrorists that blow an entire continent can not be spoken with. Though I understand that you would want to keep it completely under your full jurisdiction. These inhabitants aren’t Terran I assume? That would change the situation drastically.”
 - “Since you have been expanding over the years, here is a list of the systems we have claimed south of your border. It is to ensure we wouldn’t have unfortunate accidents. Note that there is a current buffer zone we intend to claim. If you allow us to claim that region then we won’t post military stations within 15 light years from your borders as a sign of no malicious intent. Would your government agree to this?”
 A map of the Stoinian Star Kingdom’s northern border appeared on the monitor on the table revealing the civilian planets and the claimed systems.
 Seect nodded as the king spoke about imposing order. He was pleased he was right.
 - “We have encountered your kind only in Ryccia and delegations from Ryccia. The beings on the annexed planet call themselves the Aryyt’t. They are six-legged, furry and do not breath normal air.”
 - “The radicals have been dealt with, but I thank you for the offer. From what I have seen here I am sure you would have been able to provide quite competent support.”
 Seect looked at the map. His antennae on his forehead moved slightly from side to side as he interpreted the alien symbols. When he was done he exaggerated looking up at the king, who would not be familiar with the more subtle insectoid body language. And his eyes allowed him to focus on multiple objects simultaneously either way.
 - “So you intend to claim the space between our border marked by the buoy system and the planets you have already claimed farther south? Our government would find these terms acceptable.”
 The King smiled at the insectoid. Not knowing how it would react to it. Nonetheless they should be wary about the Treecuu. They may be willing to give us some room now, but who knows. Maybe they are backstabbers. That remained to be seen.
 - “Very well, Governor. We will make sure that we ourselves will use a buoy system similar to yours as to not create any future misunderstandings. As for those beasts, from what I have seen, you should be able to eliminate any serious threats. Though our offer still stands if need be.”
 He still was excited about the news of the Ryccians, but he had the ensure protection for his people against the Treecuu.
 “As for the rest of our kind, we will have to look further into the stars. We appreciate any information about our kind that you might hear or know of. Now perhaps we shall turn to more pressing matters.”
 The King took a seat and waved his hand towards the other hand of the table. Waiting for Seect to take a seat as well.
 “I propose that our governments hold embassies on each other’s planets. We are not actively looking for war and thus want to ensure that first we have a dialogue to prevent one. The Capital may not be the wisest place for an embassy, but if the Treecuu could accept our Kind on yours, we shall accept yours on ours. Otherwise planets closer to our common border will have to do. Will the Treecuu Star Empire accept these terms?”
 - “Yes. An embassy district is being constructed on our capital world, Ecteen. The Ryccians will establish a diplomatic mission there, perhaps you would be interested in a neighbouring building complex?”
 - “That would be very much appreciated. We will arrange for a satisfactory building as well for your delegation. Let this be a beginning of friendship between our two nations.”
 He looked at the insectoid looking for its reaction. How would it react?
 - “Now would you like to tell me a bit more about your empire? I am sure our societal structures are quite different and would like to know more about our new neighbours.”
 - “In order to understand our society, one must know a bit about our history. Both Treecuu species evolved on the same planet, but my species, the insectoids, developed an advanced civilisation over a hundred thousand years before the amphibians. We eventually started colonising our solar system and terraformed a neighbouring planet. However, there was a devastating world war that almost wiped out my species, only a handful of us survived on the terraformed planet.”
 - “With us gone, the amphibians eventually developed an advanced civilisation too, partly incentivised by the ancient remains of our culture. When they eventually found us on the terraformed planet, we were in terrible shape, but they helped us get back on our feet and cured the diseases that had plagued us for millennia. Together we developed FTL technology and forged a thriving common civilisation. Indeed, ‘Treecuu’ means ‘inseparable’.”
 - “Since then, our society has been about self-betterment and working tor the welfare of the community. Unfortunately a period followed that we call the Great Calamities. Our Treecuu Republic was invaded by ultra-fascists who wanted to ‘cleanse’ the galaxy of other species. We prevailed, but were forced to become a police of sorts too to keep our region of space safe, peaceful and prosperous.”
 The King was stunned. It wasn’t only the Stoinians who had suffered from invaders. Was this part of the galaxy really that barbaric? The reports from the southern border were quite disturbing, some in the Kingdom even feared an attack from the south.
 - “I see. We ourselves have had our share of blood. The last war, the Velutarian War, reformed our society in which the military is an entire separate entity from the government. Only held in tandem by myself, the monarch. We value strength and honour, but from what I have heard, you fulfil both of those terms. We would like any sorts of data of these ultra-fascists which clearly are a threat to our existence. We have reason to believe that they may have fled towards our southern border. It’s purely speculation, but if there’s a small chance that they are there. Our southern border is plagued by nomadic barbaric races. If one of them are your ultra-fascist, the Stoinian people will be grateful for your assistance.”
 Seects antennae had been moving from slightly from side to side as the king spoke, but when he mentioned there was a possibility that the now almost legendary enemy of the Treecuu people still could exist the antennae froze leaning to one side.
 - “We have always believed the Loo-Yee were wiped out completely, but the records from that time are sparse. It must be thoroughly investigated. We will send you copies of the records that survived the wars so you can compare it with your observations of these barbarians. We would be more than happy to send a small task force to assist you. Our sensors are well suited to scan for the Loo-Yee for apparent reasons.”
 The King smiled. Where there is a common enemy, a potential friend arises. He was about to gamble, but he had nothing to lose.
 - “I see. With such dangers flying around in space I suggest the following. Though I realise it is perhaps a bit premature for your liking. I would like to form a non-aggression pact with the Treecuu Star Empire. It would put less stress on our borders and thus focus on more pressing hostile matters. We can even include that if one of our nations is attacked or discovers the Loo-Yee, they will inform the other for a joint operation. We have experience in such matters as proven with our joint operation against the Mardakii plaguing the Cheunh.”
 He took out his hand for a handshake.
 - “Can we count on the support of the Treecuu Star Empire?”
 The moment of truth was soon to be revealed. Would he gain a friend or loose its respect.
 Although an expansion to the south was desirable, the Treecuu could not afford to gain another enemy, especially now with the worrying indications that there were enemies within the Star Empire itself. And perhaps the Kingdom and Star Empire could work together to impose order for enduring interstellar peace in the well-established Treecuu way, and what it looked like, the similar Stoinian way.
 Seect was familiar with the human handshake. He grabbed the king’s hand for a firm handshake, careful not to crush the bones with his hard exoskeleton.
 - “You can count on your new friends, the Treecuu, and their Star Empire.”
 He released the king’s hand.
 - “What we have achieved today is historical, and the beginning of something great.”
 The King shocked by the firm handshake from Seect, had to hide his surprise under a smile. Although Seect was smaller than him, he sure held quite a lot of strength. Maybe these Treecuu buggers shouldn’t be underestimated. No, no more of that xenophobic attitude. These were his new friends now and have proven their worth so far. They would be shown respect.
 - “I am glad to hear that. In name of the Stoinian people, I now greet you as our new friends. May this bond strengthen us both. Perhaps now this uncivilized part of space will know the true meaning of order. A new order of peace, stability and prosperity of our peoples.”
 - “I suggest your heads of state come for an official visit to solidify our new agreement on our homeworld of Stoinia. Would this be agreeable for your government?”
 - “We would be honoured to. We will of course extend the same invitation to you.”
 Seect smiled, but he knew that the king wouldn’t be able to discern his facial expressions. Perhaps the amphibians should teach the humans? They looked and behaved rather similarly after all.
 - “In the meantime we should secure safe and stable communications between our governments.”
 Seect reached for one of his pockets. He picked up two delicate card like objects.
 - “These sheets of Yaam wood contain mine and the president’s contact information respectively. Feel free to contact us at any time.”
 Seect then pressed a couple of buttons on his wrist device, making it display a frequency.
 - “Our border buoys will relay any signals with this discriminator frequency directly to the Communications Office of the Senate. This way we can communicate until we have the embassies in place.”
 The King nodded at what he considered a blanc face. Nonetheless he smiled again and took the wooden chips. It felt quite refined. Were the Treecuu ancient craftsmen of some sort? Sooner or later he would receive an answer to it.
 - “Thank you, Governor Seect. We will contact you tomorrow for further official matters. I suggest we move on and both of us return to our post. It has been a long and stressful day, for us at least. Until next time.”
 He shook the insectoid’s hand and each went their own way. In ten minutes all vessel disembarked to their homes. It was a historic day, one that would perhaps shake the political situation in the sector.