"What Price Peace?" - 55 Days Sequel (TGG)

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"What Price Peace?" - 55 Days Sequel (TGG)

Post by Steve » 2007-07-01 10:48am

Marina and I are doing another co-op, this one of a particularly different flavor from 55 Days, though it is a sequel in that it shows the characters from it.

I recommend that you read "Hollow Life" first, I just posted it as well.

The first scene is by Marina, the second by me, and the next ones are by both of us.


PROLOGUE:


PLAN XXVIII


REPORT OF THE ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF TO HER SERENE MAJESTY THE ALL-HIGHEST EMPRESS SAVERANA II VALERIA ON THE PROSPECTS FOR DEFENCE OF TALORA PRIME AGAINST A CONCERTED INVASION OF THE ALLIANCE OF DEMOCRATIC NATIONS, DATED 60 Rissah I.Y. 618.[/b]

Central Thesis of the Proposal:

The guiding thesis of this document is the presumption of hostile action by factions in the Alliance government, predominantly those represented by Elijah Weisbaum and the Freedom Party, gaining control and launching an unprovoked war of aggression against Your Majesty's domains with the intent of spreading revolutionary democracy, using the strategic mobility inherent in interuniversal drives (IUDs henceforth) to completely annihilate space-based and much minor planetary shipbuilding capacity and support infrastructure, while ultimately destroying the bulk of the Starfleet by denying it of supply and then concentrating to crush it.

The prospects of the Alliance to engage in such a course of action are higher than may initially appear to be the case. The Alliance is by its nature extremely politically unstable, and the governments of democracies can change through violent revolution in a course of months, let alone years. Humans of the Alliance regard themselves as the fundamental species of the universe, and are offended by Taloran dominance of the humans of our home universe, and may be influenced toward war by revanchist expatriots from those territories, as well as communitarians who flee the Empire in disguise to whip up sentiment against Your Majesty through the volatile press of the Alliance.

If our own Starfleet's research into interuniversal drive technology does not bear fruit before this takes place, it is possible that we will be forced with a worst case scenario, our Empire consisting of cut off planets instructed to fight to the death with our industrial resources cut-off from each other. It is the evaluation of the General Staff that the most likely course of action for the Alliance is to attempt a decapacitation strike against Talora Prime and then commence in large-scale strategic attacks with the goal of attriting the population and industry of the Empire, as they did successfully against the Cardassians and Dominion in their victorious wars in ST-3. Therefore it is likely that hundreds of billions if not trillions of Imperial subjects will be killed in Alliance terror attacks. This can only serve, however, to stiffen the resolve of the Empire to continual resistance with the aim of ultimately forcing the retreat of the invaders.

Ultimately the Alliance, faced with our worlds dug-in against chemical and radiological attack, with underground industry comprising half our industrial assets (even if the other half is lost along with the orbital habitats which will no-doubt be destroyed in terror attacks where possible) untouched and able to produce small assault ships which can harass Alliance shipping by the thousands, they will have to commit to the ground invasion of major worlds. Probably assuming a surrender if the Imperial government is destroyed and counting on democratic sentiments, based on their ideology, to therefore magically arise in the populace out of whole cloth, they will naturally be committed to direct their full force toward the reduction of our homeworld. The main focus of Plan XXVIII is therefore the development of a comprehensive assessment of the Alliance ability to invade Talora Prime, and our ability to defend against that invasion.

ALLIANCE MILITARY STRENGTH:

Currently the Alliance of Democratic Nations maintains a military of only around 1 billion Army soldiers and 200 million Marines in a population of around 7.5 trillions. This small force, considerably less than the active-duty strength of the Imperial Army, Marines, and the State Militias (of 20 billion active-duty personnel in all), is nonetheless augmented by an estimated 3 billion active-duty personnel in the armies of the component governments of the ADN so that initial strength on the outbreak of War would be approximately 4.3 billion with another 6 billion capable of being rapidly mobilized, though the figure is largely due to the very uneven conscription requirements of the Alliance.

This contrasts sharply with the ability of the state militias and Imperial reserve to immediately mobilize around 60 billion additional soldiers in the first-line reserve. The Alliance's ability to conduct an attack on Talora Prime is therefore evidenced by the power of concentration using its control of space and IUD strategic mobility assets; we will be able to assume that very few other worlds of any consequence will be occupied if the Alliance is to conduct an assault on Talora Prime. This will allow the rust-belt of the Empire to be revitalized into the source of industrial strength and new shipbuilding to harass the shipping of the Alliance and ultimately aide in forcing the Alliance to withdraw from our universe when we have crippled their overall strength.

The plan is use Talora Prime as a fortress world to achieve precisely that, the systematic defeat of the Alliance, using the weakness of democratic military culture to our advantage. When billions of body bags have returned home to the Alliance, we may be confident that their will to fight on will be entirely destroyed. This must be the fundamental goal of any defence of Talora Prime.


THE DEFENCES OF TALORA PRIME.


Cut off from the rest of the Empire the population of 80 billion on the surface of Talora Prime, 20 billion in artificial orbital habitats, and 3 billion on the surface of the moons Calinbrae, Silavjha, and Rulai, constitute in all 103 billions as a population resource. It may be presumed that with the massive space and ground batteries of the homeworld that even if the rest of the system's population is cut off and annihilated--for due to the nature of their habitations, it is estimated at least 50% of the 60 billion residents of the rest of the system could be killed by typical Alliance tactics--or otherwise occupied, that the 23 billion inhabitants of local space to Talora Prime can be evacuated to the surface, where the underground installations for this purpose can handle them, albeit in cases of extreme cramping (an average of 9 individuals per each 4 x 4 x 3 meter cubed room in the industrial shelter system). The algae processors in secured locations have an existing capacity to producing nutrient rations at healthy levels of only 105 billions; it is inevitable that malnourishment starvation will ensue as some are knocked out and captured out of proportion with the lost portion of the population, though never to such an extent as to imperil continued resistance.

In all out of this population it is understood that those with military training who can be mobilized without impairing social cohesion or the capability of the industry underground can come to a total of 4.1% of the initial surface population, and the higher rate of about 6.5% of the evacuees from the orbitals. The first figure is the full strength of the current forces which could be mobilized from Talora Prime, numbering around 3,280 millions; those from the high orbitals, 1,495 millions, or a cumulative of 4,775 millions of uniformed personnel involved in the defence of Talora Prime could be kept in arms at any time. The pool of available replacements would be about three times larger in each case, and children coming of age would enhance these numbers over the course of operations so that approximately 15 billion replacements would be available for the defensive forces, though as the enemy destroys and overruns sheltered positions it is to be estimated that the maximum number of replacement personnel to be employed would amount to 8.5 billions with another 2.2 billions still available to replenish our strength by the time of the projected defeat of the Alliance invasion force, and approximately 4.3 billion murdered or killed as a result of operations over the course of the campaign before they could be inducted into the defensive forces.

During the period of an estimated two years (six-point-four Terran years) when the Alliance is completing the destruction of the starfleet and our general orbital infrastructure, extensive preparations can be made to defend the homeland. In all on the order of 6.5 million main battle hovertanks can be stockpiled for use by the defensive forces along with around 32,000 hover battleships, 12.8 million mobile artillery pieces, 13 million tactical rocket launchers, 200,000 mobile surface-to-space launchers, a supplement 600 x surface-to-space carrying missile submarines can be added to the 300 already in the defensive network, and the number of anti-bombardment shields can be increased from a density of one per 1,000 sq. km. to one per 250 sq. km. The number of surface to space heavy cannon can be increased from 280,000 to 410,000, and the number of missiles stockpiled for the use of all types of surface-to-space launcher can be increased from 3 million to 16 millions. Density of fixed anti-missile emplacements on the surface can be increased from one per 250 sq. km. to one per 64 sq. km.

In all, 1.6 billion suits of power armour can be manufactured, along with an equal number of personal energy shields. Small arms would remain in plentiful supply throughout operations, far in excess of the number required for the defenders. At least 700 million tonnes of explosives could be manufactured per year, so that by the commencement of Alliance operations against Talora Prime itself, in excess of 2 billion tonnes of high explosives would be stockpiled when existing stockpiles are factored in. Production of nuclear devices on the surface would be limited by available radioactive weapons-grade material production, which is unfortunately primarily in orbit and not easily relocatable, so that production would be limited to a rate of approximately 320,000 devices per year-around 650,000 new devices before the siege begins. An additional 20,000 devices, however, can be assembled using leftover anti-matter from the ground-to-space missile programme, giving a provision of around 1.7 million tactical fusion, neutron, and anti-matter devices in all, with an average yield of 10.2kT, when existing stockpiles are accounted for. Chemical production would due to the situation offworld of most facilities unfortunately only provide 1,000 tons of high-end nerve gas, 3,000 tons of low-end nerve gas, and 7,000 tons of blister and blood agents each per year allowing for not more than 36,000 tons of poison to be added to the existing stockpile of only 200,000 tons on the surface. During the initial phases of the war, however, a transport programme to reposition up to 400,000 additional tonnes of poison gas with all associated deployment munitions to Talora Prime is feasable.


PROJECTED ALLIANCE ASSAULT FORCES


After more than six years of war it is likely that the Alliance will-though theoretically capable of having 225 billion soldiers under arms-likely not have mobilized more than around 70 billions, and with a rather limited deployment through the rest of the Empire, casualties killed, wounded, and captured will probably not exceed 2 billions including 400 million dead. Therefore the first taste of heavy combat will be when the invasion of Talora Prime takes place.

In all the shipping capacity of the Alliance in relation to Interuniversal Drive Capacity, and the lack of Alliance central manufacturing resources due to the lack of a central region of indusrial production, forces most alliance shipping to remain commercial to keep their economy from collapsing. In total the Alliance can probably not commit more than sixty-four billion tonnes of shipping to support the invasion of Talora Prime. This limits the number of ground forces they can support in combat on the surface of the planet to 3 billion to 3.1 billion soldiers at any one time. Due to the small size of the Alliance military a force of around 3 billions or even slightly less is the most likely to be deployed, though in no case is it likely that the Alliance would commit less than 2.9 billion troops; in this case the strength of the invading forces would be only 60% of the strength of our defending troops. The maximal ratio imposed by constraints of commerce would be 65% of the strength of our defending forces. Because of the desire of the invaders, certainly, to equal our defending troop strength to the best of their ability, we will use a 65:100 ratio for all further assumptions in this document.

It is certain that the support forces will include a significant portion of the Alliance Stellar Navy to protect the invasion force from our raiders, including on the order of 100 dreadnoughts, 100 fleet carriers, and 2,600 smaller escort vessels. This would up to one-fifteenth of the whole fleet strength of the ASN when the national contingents are attached, preventing them from effectually countering our recovery efforts elsewhere in the Empire when their other strategic interests in other universes are also considered along with the severe combat losses they would face in the destruction of our starfleet even with their vast strategic advantages.


THE ALLIANCE GAINING THE SURFACE.


With the scale of our defences, the usual Alliance preference for sudden and rapid assaults will be nearly impossible to enact. Instead, orbital space will have to be cleared first. This will take at least four Taloran months when the minefields are counted, during which our ground defences can only be further improved. Halfway through this period, however, the dark sides of the moons can be used for the concentration of Alliance forces in preparation for the landings. It is probably that Ytalla, Ghastan Island, the Great Reef, the Arctic and Antarctic continents, and minor islands, will be ignored by the Alliance landings. Instead, each moon provides a convenient staging area for an attack against each of the great Colenta.

Fortunately this means that the Alliance forces will have to clear no less than 75% of the batteries on the surface before they have a safe landing possible. It is likely that they will only attempt to reduce half these batteries; the difficulty would considerably increase otherwise, especially with the mobile launchers. The majority of the surviving ground-to-space defences after a period of an additional four months of heavy bombardment (in which the ASN is likely to lose 20 dreadnoughts to our defensive fire and 300 lesser ships) would be in the form of missiles, which have a limited capacity; so if they can accept initial heavy losses, further interdiction of resupply forces will be much less feasable for us.

The core of the pre-war Alliance Marine Corps is likely to be used for these assaults, so that an initial landing force of around 180 million troops will be used, sixty million per Colenta. It is unlikely that the Alliance can possibly concentrate combat drop forces for initial landings any larger than this. We should with some hope be able to kill 100 million Alliance soldiers during the landing operations with our missile defences, though these will be unmasked and largely destroyed in the process, and most of the defensive missiles expended. This loss in a single day of combat will have serious consequences for the Alliance at home, however; the war would have already stretched for eight human years, and it is generally agreed by all human military philosophers that a human democracy cannot sustain a war for longer than ten years. In this context, the loss of around one-fifth of all their prior fatalities from all sources in the war, in the course of a single day, will be a shock which is likely to dash public opinion at home.

It may seem in the context of such heavy losses in landing to be advisable to engage in immediate counterattacks against the landing zones. These are only likely, however, to draw out our defensive forces for their destruction at the hands of the Alliance dreadnoughts in the high orbitals. Instead, the ground combat forces should be deployed defensively around major cities where the densest concentrations of defensive shielding and weaponry render attack from space impossible. Here our tanks will do their most good on the defensive and in support of the forces defending the highly built-up cities.

Our missile assaults can continue over the period of the next two weeks during which more and more Alliance forces will be brought to the surface. In this period we expect to kill another 90 million Alliance soldiers outright before they can reach the surface, but with the price of the total loss of our effectual ground-to-space capability. Probably another 1 million Alliance soldiers will be killed and 7 million wounded to that date in ground combat over the first eleven days. Our own casualties in this situation will be very favourable, not more than another 1 million killed and 7 million wounded; at this end of this period however the Alliance will begin to be able to strip the passive defences from the surface and the strength of the Alliance forces on the ground will be built up to on the order of 1.3 billions despite their losses with another 1.6 billion still waiting to be landed.

The Alliance's first landings are likely to be the New Valleys region of Midela Colenta, Dalamar Province on Grenya Colenta, and the Central Valleys region of Lelola Colenta. Cities in these regions will be rapidly invested and besieged before Alliance forward movement grinds to a halt and the Alliance forces halt to await the transfer of their remaining forces from the surface and the effects of their preliminary air campaigns.


OUR DEFENSIVE POSTURE


The recommended planetary redoubt for the operations is to be the Crags of Leluno, Your Majesty. This area is the most mountainous, rough, and deepest mountain terrain on the planet, outside of the subcontinent of Ytalla, and is extensive with numerous mineral resources which will allow sustained industrial production throughout the operations on the surface. The crust bulges in this area, providing a depth to the defensive structures which will render effective orbital bombardment particularly impractical. In total up to one billion troops should be concentrated here to provide a rock of guaranteed resistance in which the Imperial government will be secure and can continue to direct the conflict, while providing a bulwark upon which the strength of the Alliance military can only falter. In all the initial dispositions should provide for 1.5 billion troops on Grenya Colenta, 1.6 billion troops on Lelola Colenta, and 1.1 billion troops on Midela Colenta, with 575 million troops as garrisons in minor areas, primarily with 300 million troops heavily dug in on Ytalla and 150 million on Ghastan Island.

The cities are to be in all cases defended to the last man. Each city will form a redoubt-fortress with exterior lines of defence which can rely on internal stockpiled weaponry, underground tunnels for resupply along with submarines in the case of coastal ports, and can ultimately fall back into the cities where ferrocrete mega-structures will be virtually impregnable even with greatly sustained supporting orbital bombardment. This phase will see the expenditure of most of our armour, with defensive combat relying on prepared fortifications in later stages for a static defensive effort.

During the later stages it is likely that the Alliance forces will attempt to seize the underground factories, city-sections, and refugee tunnels. The largest casualties will ensue in this period, from civilians, defenders, and the enemy. It is thought that Alliance casualties in this period could ultimately reach the rate of 1 million fatalities per day and seven million wounded. Due to the orbital support the enemy will enjoy, our own casualties will be up to three times higher despite our extensive defensive advantage. This phase will probably commence 5 - 6 months after the beginning of the stage of city combat. Our goal will be to contest every room of every tunnel to the last soldier, with the absolute objective of inflicting the uttermost casualties possible on the Alliance troops, taking 'not one step back' and forcing the Alliance to lose a platoon's worth of men killed simply to seize a communal bathing facility in a shelter, let alone a major underground factory.


LIMITS OF ALLIANCE ENDURANCE


Four months of the kind of resistance described above will entail the loss of 220 million Allied troops killed outright and 1.7 billion wounded. A similar figure for the prior six months of less intense combat means that up to 450 million Alliance soldiers will be dead on top of the approximately 200 million killed in the initial landings, and on the order of 3.2 billion Alliance troops wounded. Conversely our own fatalities will be around 1.4 billion soldiers killed in action and 8 billion wounded, of whom 4 billion would be returned to service. We would still have at least 10 billion personnel-4 billion called to the colours and 6 billion who could be called to the colours-discounting those who are projected to be wounded later but still before they could be called to the colours.

By this point, seven billion Alliance military personnel will have fought on the surface of Taloran Prime and nearly four billion will have been killed or wounded; on the order of 60% of the soldiers who have seen action. In all at least 10% of the Alliance's projected mobilized army strength will have seen action on the surface of Talora Prime, and 30% of the surface and 80% of the underground facilities would remain in our hands. The Alliance will now have been fighting the war for ten human years and will have suffered at least 1.2 billion fatalities in doing so even though we have been unable to touch their homeworlds. The demographic loss among their youngest and brightest will be most vivid, and we will have a reputation of hard fighters who have, unlike their prior opponents, not committed atrocities or otherwise attempted aggressive actions.

Democracies are fickle. They change against their leadership easily. After this period of intense combat, there will be very continued resistance to continued operations against Talora Prime. Other strategies will be proposed to bring the war to a conclusion. At the same time, however, our fleets will be built up to the point where resumed instellar resistance to the Alliance will be possible to a limited extent; the relief of Talora Prime will however remain infeasale because of the continued extreme strategic superiourity of interuniversal drive.

The estimates of the General Staff are therefore that out of inertia and determination to win, the Alliance will continue aggressive efforts to subdue our prepared defences. These efforts will continue for another three to four Taloran months, or around two-thirds of a human year, in a period in which we should suffer at least another 3.8 billion permanent casualties and an equal number returned to the colours. By that point our manpower reserves will be only 2.2 billions not yet activated on the surface, though this ignores ad-hoc units of last resort pulled off their factories and other sources of desperate manpower for the last-ditch phase of resistance.

Due to those sources of manpower we would have the capacity to resist for up to an additional four Taloran months. Additional resistance would be possible after this point in the Planetary Redoubt and on areas of the planet not yet attacked by the enemy, for example undersea facilities and the polar and sub-continents. Resistance in these yet-untouched areas could be especially vigorous, and the Planetary Redoubt is unlikely to fall for another four months yet, with Your Majesty and the government to be spirited off to the Arctic continent to sustain resistance for another six months until the last pockets have been subdued and the position is untenable.

However, it is considered highly unlikely that the Alliance would continue to prolong the war after the second four months of the hardest fighting. Being on the verge of the eleventh year of the war and with the prospect of another year of general fighting across the whole planet of the same scale ahead, followed by a year after that of continued vigorous resistance in isolated areas, the Alliance would have suffered an additional 225 million fatalities for a cumulative in the war effort of between 1.5 - 1.6 billion soldiers dead when resistaince in the other areas of the Empire is considered. In all some 900 million Alliance soldiers will be dead on the surface of Talora Prime, 200 million of them without even bodies to return home, vapourized in the initial landing waves. Another 6 billion will have been wounded, and of these probably on the order of 2 billion will be amputees, as the nature of the weapons involves favoures the survival of those struck in a limb, but guarantees the loss of that limb. The scale of the cybernetic implants required will be a graphic testament to the nature and futility of the combat on the surface.

With the prospect of another 450 million fatalities before the whole surface of the planet is subdued, and total fatalities in the armed forces of the Alliance rising above 2 billions, Alliance military command and the civilian leadership will be facing the prospects of a general collapse of all public sentiment at home. The resurrection of our fleets from the core of other heavily industrialized worlds-thirty-eight of which have the capability to resist in a fashion directly comparable in magnitude to Talora Prime!--will make the idea of the systematic reduction of the Empire seem absurd; even with the surface of the planet, through the combination of our use of defensive nukes, and their orbital bombardments, being rendered virtually entirely uninhabitable (in fact Talorans would probably not be able to live on the surface for thirteen years after the conclusion of hostilities), we would still be positioned to kill half a billion of their soldiers with sustained resistance on one of those worlds alone, and likely figures much higher, as all estimates for the number of wounded soldiers to be returned to action are extremely pessimistic, particularly in such a grave situation as this, as are the figures for mass mobilization--though it is assumed that for ethical reasons a posture of mass employment of civilians will not be adopted to avoid Alliance genocide of the surface populace.

In this light, it seems certain that either a negotiated peace will be sought, or otherwise, a revolution at home will compel a withdrawal; or finally, that the real possibility exists that we can build up a fleet which will at the very least force them to withdraw from Talora Prime. The later is the most likely course; they will find their supply lines steadily crippled as the industrial resources of those other thirty-eight planets complete thousands of ships and dozens of dreadnoughts which render even an IUD-based supply untenable, and allow us to possibly even return to raiding in CON-5. They will be forced to acknowledge the queasy prospect of spending years systematically demolishing our rebuilt forces yet again, simply to repeat a strategy of invasion which failed-and since the Imperial government is really your Person, Your Majesty, the immediate relocation of your person to the next most suited of the major industrial worlds for a second round of Fortress Strategy will promise the Alliance with the prospect of more than a quarter of a century of continuous warfare to simply have a chance to subdue us. No democracy could sustain that by their own admission, and the defence of the Imperial realms is therefore a practicable possibility, though it must be acknowledged that civilian fatalities on Talora Prime would reach a figure of 21.5 billion dead, for a cumulative total of 23.7 billion dead on the surface. out of 103 billion to begin with at the start of operations.

Ludicrous! It was all Saverana II could think of. Utterly ludicrous! The assumptions about the Alliance, and even about their own casualties, were off the wall in a pessimistic fashion, and the idea of an invasion of that scale... Still, I understand the underlying concern. They are afraid of interuniversal drive technology. And our own research is proceeding quite slowly.

She was Starfleet in her inclinations, like her ill-fated mother, however, and so she couldn't help but look for a way to render the scenario, obviously pushed by the Army, to be a moot point. I wonder if I could accede to the IUD control Treaty that the Alliance dominates? If we could get access to the technology, even under Alliance domination, it would in the short term alleviate these concerns...

Sitting at her desk where she normally signed directives in the Old Fort at Valeria, she had her secretary call archives and request a copy of the known contents of the treaty. It was delivered by vacuum tube about fifteen minutes later, and presented to her by said fellow. She read it. Ah, as I suspected. Independent research is formally banned. Saverana thought for a moment longer about the morality of what she planned. Then she looked back to the end of the Plan XXVIII review. It sent a chill through her, as she considered the chance, even if small and outlandish, of something of the sort actually happening. More than twenty billion dead innocents on one world alone. However remote, removing that possibility is quite worth a lie from a Sovereign. That is something grandmother reminded me, from time to time, that I would surely have to do. And so she did, though of course the details took time.


Washington D.C., Earth
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
9 April 2164 AST



A stack of papers of state were still being worked on by President Dale as he awaited the arrivals of Peter Wells, the Minister of Foreign Relations, and one of his subordinates, Song Huang-zhu, the Secretary of the Travel Office of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, responsible for one of the more mundane things Dale knew from his life; international travel, specifically the issuing of visas and passports.
With his eyes looking at the clock and counting down the hour or two until the Security Committee meeting later that day, Dale was relieved to hear Mrs. Higgins, his new secretary (Ms. Henley had stayed with him a while, after being Mamatmas' secretary, until she decided to retire and get married to a high school lover), call to say Wells and Song had arrived. He looked up in time to see Wells lead his subordinate in, taller and thinner than the heavy-set, jovial Chinese bureaucrat. They took seats and Dale asked, "Gentlemen, what can I do for you?"
"Mister President, Secretary Song and his office have become aware of an... issue regarding Taloran nationals and their passports."
"What issue?" Dale said, almost yawning, and wondering if Mamatmas would have bothered taking up such an issue.

"Well.... they're not legitimate."
Dale looked up. "Gentlemen, we have means to discovering forged passports. How do these people get through then?"
"No, Mister President, they are not forged. They are illegitimate. They are not legal documents issued by the Government of Saverana II. We have found that they are not only issued only by subordinate political bodies in the Taloran Empire, but that they are issued.... with laxity."
Looking at Song curiously, Dale asked, "Laxity, Secretary Song? Please, elaborate on that."
"Yes, I mean, they do no subject the people looking for passports to any kind of scrutiny. Our Embassy has confirmed, with firsthand witness reports, that the Talorans simply mail in or present a request for passports and they are handed out without any verification of the person's identity. A criminal or a terrorist could have ten different names, each with a passpower, and Taloran authorities would not know. They would even give him an eleventh."

For a long moment Dale just looked at the two men. "So you're telling me that for the past, oh, eighteen to twenty months we have been letting Taloran nationals without verifiable identification to go wherever they want within Alliance territory?"
"Yes, Mister President."
Rubbing hia forehead, Dale didn't respond to this for a few moments. "So, contact Ambassador itl Ghast, let her know that the issue is jeopardizing relations."
"Already did so, Sir," Wells answered. "Her reply is that the Taloran Imperial government has no authority to issue passports or regulate, in any way, travel in and out of their empire. Apparently our own travelers don't even have to show passports."
"Sir, if the media gets wind of this, or the Council..."
"I don't need the big picture, Secretary," Dale barked harshly, not wanting to put up with the bureaucrat's "cross-every-t-dot-every-i" mentality. "Okay.... here's what we're going to do. Mister Wells, please alert Ambassador Windsor on Talora Prime and ask her to commence a dialogue so that we can come to some kind of... accord with their government to solve this."
"Yes sir," Wells replied. "I'll see you at the Security Committee meeting."
Dale watched the man go and shook his head soberly. Of all the silly things....
Still, the prospect worried him. The Talorans weren't just aliens; the Alliance, and the nations that made it up, had been dealing with alien races for over a hundred years. It was their particular social structure, their feudalist mindset, and apparently a minimalist, trusting mindset that led them to neglect things like passports.

They were powerful, no denying that. They had twice the population in a single immense space empire which took months to traverse from end to end; even traveling from Talora Prime to Earth took three weeks in the fastest ships, he'd been told. This alone wasn't special; it took almost two months to get from Earth to the outer range of exploration in almost all universes in the ADN; FHI-8 would require half a year of travel to get from Earth to the outer edge of the Allerkan Empire. But all of that territory under one government?
They were, because of this, effectively as powerful as the Alliance, if no moreso. They had to be dealt with carefully, and introduced into the Multiversal power structure in stable fashion, with a minimum of culture shock to avoid the problems that had come from exposing other unique powers, such as the Federation from ST-3, to the Multiversal Community.
And, of course, they really needed to start issuing passports....



Alliance Embassy, Valeria
Talora Prime, Taloran Star Empire
Universe Designate Talora-1
12 May 2164 AST



The Alliance Embassy had been carefully picked to ensure suitable security, access to the Taloran government, and comfort for the two hundred or so Alliance officials and workers, and immediate families, who would be working a month's travel away from home. The result was the villa of a noble recently fallen on bad financial times who willingly rented the building out to the Alliance for the Embassy, giving it suitable protection against the handful of terrorist threats in the Taloran Empire, mostly the communitarian Farzians and their tendency toward bomb-throwing.

The preparations in the embassy's dining room had been careful and precise. Human and Taloran dishes abounded, to ensure that even without enzyme supplements both parties could eat comfortably, and liveried Taloran servants, locals hired into the embassy and veterans of service to nobility, waited patiently for any orders.
The Ambassador was waiting patiently for her guest. Her name was Elizabeth Windsor; she was, in fact, HRH Princess Elizabeth Windsor, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria III of Britain SE-1, and an older daughter of the Prince of Wales, Admiral Edward Windsor, who was now serving as Vice-Minister of Defense for Naval Affairs in the Dale Administration. A natural brunette with prominent patrician nose and blue eyes, though never quite as pretty as her dear late sister Anne had been, she was in formal attire, a high-cut black dress with high heels, and waiting with the kind of patience experienced diplomats were quite capable of at times.

Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno, was highly aware of human behaviour, unlike many other Talorans, and she consciously chose to wear her military uniform as a Vice Admiral of the Green, a rank which Saverana had created her--despite the fact that all her actual military experience was on land--as a favour to her closest friend. That meant that she was dressed in crisp blues and whites with plenty of gold braid and a cocked hat of crimson with green cockades, sword at her side, the blue coat of the uniform a pelisse trimmed in fur and lined with gold braid. She entered without any servants or guards, simply appearing to be a Vice Admiral on some sort of visit instead of one of the most important persons in the Empire, and walked up to the front desk, past the armed Alliance Marine guards. "Jhastimia Rulandh," she said, modestly, not mentioning her title and assuming the desk-keeper to know who she was. "I have a dinner appointment with Her Highness the Ambassador."

"Right this way, Ma'am," was the reply from the secretary, and Jhastimia was led to the dining room, which was large enough for a full banquet even if, now, it was only being used for a dinner for two.
Elizabeth stood and greeted her guest warmly. "Your Highness, welcome to the Embassy. I hope your trip was pleasant."
What would start now was two weeks of intense effort. Elizabeth had been given notification from the President to seek the opening of negotiations immediately for an agreement, even a treaty, to help integrate the Talorans into the Multiverse. And in the Taloran Empire, the best way to get things rolling was to get the attention of the Empress.
She had petitioned to the Chamberlain for an audience with Saverana II, but it was hopelessly stone-walled and clearly not going to happen. Instead the Chamberlain had moved her onto other subjects, including a brief question on whether she'd met the Archduchess Leluno and that she made a friendly dinner partner.
The Taloran court was not the court back home, but Elizabeth was no fool. As high royalty, the granddaughter of the ruler of an interstellar Nation, she'd been respectfully permitted into Taloran high society in a way a common-born Ambassador would have found difficult (hence the reason the Foreign Ministry had come to her in the first place), and she knew the gossip well on the relationship between Leluno and the Empress. And even if some of it was false, there was enough truth there to make it clear to Elizabeth that the way to the ears of Saverana was through Archduchess Leluno. So the dinner plans had been made, and a date picked to allow for the Archduchess to come to the Embassy for a friendly meal.

The Archduchess Leluno had immensely long hair to her knees, like nearly any fully adult Taloran, which was a delightful lavender colour and particular pretty when braided, while her eyes were a light blue. It contrasted heavily with the uniform, but to a Taloran that was considered prettier than matching. She followed the secretary in to the dinner table, and smiled when she saw the noble-born ambassador, in the faint Taloran way. "Your Highness... Thank you for the invitation. May I sit?" Jhastimia was musing over not merely the matters at hand, but also the details of Elizabeth's life, and the peculiar request that the Empress had told her of before going on this journey...

"Oh, please do," Elizabeth said. She motioned to a seat, allowing them to sit rather closely on opposite ends of the table. "I'm told that the chef who prepared the Taloran dishes on the table is a particularly well-liked one in Valeria and has catered Imperial functions before. I believe the name of the dish is something like Truvalia?"

"Ah, yes, that will be an excellent selection. Thank you kindly, Your Highness." Jhastimia smiled with some genuine pleasure at the prospect of well-prepared Truvalia. "I understand this dinner is for more than merely pleasure, however, which makes me rather pleased that you'd acknowledge someone like myself for the interests you wish to discuss."

"I'm thankful when I get the chance to speak with those of import here on Talora Prime, it helps with the duties I'm charged with after all," Elizabeth replied, looking forward to her own meal of roasted duck, curry kebobs, and various vegetables and salad mixes. "And to be honest, President Dale himself has written to me on what he considers a matter of import regarding our relations."

"I'm not important," Jhastimia answered. "I'm just the friend of a very imaginative girl, and neither of us finished growing up." The idea that she'd just called the Empress a 'very imaginative girl' was extreme, but she had not named names, and so it was comfortably acceptable, a sly recognition of the nature of her power. "Of course, I am the Imperial representative to the Convocate, but that is that..." She started to delicately sample the dishes. "What is the matter that His Excellency the Alliance President wishes to bring up in regard to the Taloran Empire? I'd be interested in hearing it."

Elizabeth did not show surprise at the way Jhastimia referred to her position. Among Talorans, the truth was often acknowledged while hidden delicately by terminology and colorful uses of language. But everyone in the capital knew that she was the Empress' closest confidant.
"The President is most interested in aiding the Taloran Empire into further connection with the Multiversal Community," Elizabeth replied. "He feels that such a thing would be beneficial to both of our societies and to the Multiverse as a whole. Of course, your people are rather unique in the Multiverse of today, and there are certain... differences of policy that have the potential of interfering with the Taloran Empire taking it's place among the leading states of the Multiverse. For instance, I'm sure your aware of the passport system used by the majority of Multiversal states?"

"Passports?" Jhastimia looked up, no longer modest, in fact, extremely alert. "Actually... No, I'm not aware of it. I know that.. The United Terran Homeland Party required internal passports for travel between its various nations. But what does that have to do with international travel between lawful states like our own?" To someone reasonably skilled in reading the ear movements of Talorans, the mere comment had made Jhastimia exceptionally concerned that she was missing out on something very major and very important, which to someone in her position... Was quite worrying, indeed.

Having eaten a little, Elizabeth gave her explaination. "Given our own history, the United Terran Homeland Party likely simply inherited an already-existing system. It has been our custom, for the past centuries, to have passports for travel between different states. These are, for the most part, required by other states for foreign nationals to be allowed entry into their territory, and must be gotten from the government of one's state with a regimen of ID checking to prove that the person getting the passport is not in fact someone else." Taking a bite, she added, "In most cases, it is a formality of the bureaucracy, but it is also used for aid in law enforcement and security to prevent, say, terrorism suspects from moving from one jurisdiction to another."

"Well, we don't have such a system. Terrorism has never been a problem in the Taloran Empire--if I may be quite blunt, we deal with it far more harshly than you do, and thereby discourage it--and I'm not entirely sure what the problem is associated with it. There would be precious little desire for someone from the Empire to attack your territories, and we, of course, do not even have the apparatus for enforcing such a strange mechanism. I scarcely even need mention, I do believe, that it would be regarded... Quite negatively by the Convocate." Jhastimia revealed in that comment that she was aware enough of what the issuing of passports would entail, certainly; but that could only be expected of an educated individual once the system had been explained.

"Unfortunately, this is one of those small, annoying issues that can cause undue hassle and damage to relations and trade," Elizabeth explained after finishing a bite, enjoying the succulent taste and reminding herself to thank the chef. "The President is hoping to find a solution to this, and any other issues of import between our peoples, through a negotiation and a legal treaty."

"Well, what this treaty entail on our part, Your Highness? There is not much we can do about this," Jhastimia answered, fishing for more information on the matter before making a direct answer, even as she enjoyed the delicacies of her own food, and categorized the cook as probably having worked at least for a Duke before this.

"A system that would satisfy issues such as the passport situation, as well as other sundry matters of economics that, I'm sure, are very important to the bureaucrats back in Washington." Taking a bite and finishing it, Elizabeth added, "There is also, of course, the issue of trade between your universe and others. Currently it is limited to travel through the rifts, which I am given to understand is becoming heavier and more congested as the months pass. The President is interested in any negotiation that might bring the Taloran Empire into the New Brasilia Treaty apparatus, including the construction of Jump Gate Assemblies, under Taloran control, to facilitate further trade with your home universe."

Jhastimia simply couldn't hide her shock at what had just been said. "Ah, Your Highness... It is actually a goal of the Alliance to have us accede to the New Brasilia treaty?" She asked, very pointedly, and unusual for this--it showed that her feathers had been ruffled, so to speak. "That is very interesting to say the least."

"It would be a good thing for both our societies, Your Highness, and that is my view as well. Signing the Treaty of New Brasilia would give your government a voice on the IUCEC and access to the Interuniversal Jump Generator technology, with the IU Jump Gate Assemblies built here being placed under Taloran control as is IUCEC policy for dignified, proven governments. I have no doubt that soon afterward your natural industrial potential would ensure the IUCEC permitted you to build dedicated jump ships for exploration." Elizabeth took another bite. "We don't mean to be seeing as pushing you into any of this, of course. It is rather like the extended hand, offering friendship and trust. The Allied Nations and the Taloran Empire can do so much as friends than we could as distant relations and potential rivals, as so many see us to be."

"You're aware that we also have a Zohan settlement?" Jhastimia observed delicately, as she was, of course, quite aware that some of the Zohan had settled in the Alliance, and she was testing them insomuch as how far they understood that Taloran interests lay in such research. Of course, Zohan drives were not capable of being aimed at that period--and the leadership of the Alliance would be, unfortunately or fortunately, aware of that as well.

"Yes, quite aware, and I've been told that they've proven a conduit for the trade links we already enjoy." Elizabeth smiled softly and took a drink. It was widely accepted, if not confirmed, that the Talorans would be involved in research, independent, for their own IU tech - between ADN and HRE possession of it, who would blame them? - and understood that the Archduchess would be fishing for indications of what she knew. Opting to be delicate, Elizabeth added, "I'm sure they're quite useful in research capacities, as I'm told they're very capable engineers. Some of our own companies have greatly enjoyed the fruits of their contracts with the Zohan clans living in the Alliance."

"I understand that in your own histories the practice of joining a general international treaty while stating specific reservations is not unheard of," Jhastimia answered, her ears flattening a bit. "As it so happens... One of the matters that the Empress discussed with me," and here her position came out in the open, but that was to be expected by this point, "was her intense desire to make an arrangement regarding the New Brasilia treaty so that we could obtain Interuniversal Drives of our own --as it is an issue we cannot easily afford to ignore, all circumstances considered." It was as close to mentioning Plan XXVIII as Jhastimia would ever dare come, and the idea that Saverana II was actively interested in acceding to the New Brasilia treaty, even with the comment about formal reservations.. Would no doubt come as a great surprise to the Alliance.

Elizabeth was profoundly interested in what she had just heard. "Such reservations would likely have to be brought up with the IUCEC. Despite appearances, the Alliance Government does not have as much a controlling share of it as would otherwise seem the case. But surely they'll consider reasonable terms in such reservations."

"Manufacturing would be an important component of our considerations, Your Highness," Jhastimia answered. "I can inform you right now that we would not accede unless it were guaranteed that component construction would take place in Taloran factories. If that were guaranteed, even under stipulation, however, we do in fact have quite considerable latitude for negotiation."

"The IUCEC does have stringent security measures, but they also contract out construction to many companies of signatory nations. I do not see how Taloran companies would be left out. Indeed, construction here would save a great deal on the costs of establishing gate assemblies in your universe," Elizabeth said, showing her own decent knowledge of the IUCEC. "They may even found their own companies in Taloran territory to perform such construction."

"That would have to be discussed in detail," Jhastimia answered. "But such discussions are certainly possible. And now that we've dealt with this matter.. I fear I will have to answer in some detail to the passport affair that you bring up." Her eyes focused, and her ears raised. "What precisely would it entail, for us to implement a passport system? Since I would be inclined to suspect that is precisely what you're hoping that the Empire will do."

"Well, for passports, the point I suppose would be the provision of proof that you are whom you say you are," Elizabeth said, after some thought and chewing to swallow her food. "In fact...." She was thankful for having the foresight to hand her passport to one of the liveried Taloran men in the room. She motioned to him and he immediately reached in and took it out. "This is the passport I once held before becoming a government official. Even we royals carry one, just in case." She handed it to Jhastimia, who looked over the leather-bound badge-like passport emblazoned with the seal of the Allied Nations Foreign Ministry's Travel Office. In truth, Elizabeth also had a British passport, but she chose to carry her Alliance one. This one had her face picture with a compilation of data and a passport number upon it, as well as a few visa stamps from trips she took as a private citizen. "Most citizens get one by going to the relevant office with various means of identification. Social Security cards for Americans, driver's licenses, National ID cards, whatever is applicable to their nation's system."

"Your Highness.. The information shown there is the sort of information that the Taloran government.. Does not collect. We do not have numbers attached to persons, or licenses outside of the operating licenses issued by the competent trade guilds, or any sort of identification card whatsoever. The Taloran government does not collect such information, and, more to the point.. I doubt the political feasability of it ever doing so. To put it quite frankly, I will use the terms of freedom which are popular in the Alliance. Liberty, to us, is precisely in a government which does not engage in such surveillance. It would be considered a gross tyranny, the sort of thing that the convocate would pounce upon and never sanction. You may well be asking us to do the impossible; the idea is literally unheard of throughout Taloran history, and the simple concept of collecting information on Her Serene Majesty's subjects... You might as well propose to indefinitely suspend elections in the Alliance for the Presidency."

"I'm not terribly surprised to hear that," Elizabeth said, "having lived with your people for the past year and a half." And having heard the snide remarks of nobles not quite so diplomatic, she added mentally. "Unfortunately, this isn't just a matter for our governments. So far your component governments have been issuing passports with what the report I was given termed 'laxity', and as governments across the Multiverse learn this it will cause serious repercussions. This is why the President wants a negotiation, to forestall these things. It is his hope, and mine, that a workable solution can be found."

"Well, these passports issued by the states probably rely on no data themselves," she answered, thinking for a moment. "The only real repository of data on citizens is military induction records, which are very incomplete, as only one person per village is taken... The census every sixteen years--which means that the data can be more than fifty human years out of date and is based entirely on self-reporting--and the birth and death records of the Farzian church. There are also records when someone changes residence from one state to another, but those only exist in the case of people who have done so, which is rather rare."

"Again, perhaps the negotiating team can find a solution that will be compatible with your people's opinion on the matter, using one or more of the sources you just mentioned," Elizabeth said diplomatically, more than a little worried that the intractable Talorans might very well refuse to budge on the issue. "And if you make such a deal with the Alliance, other states will certainly follow suit."

"None of the sources seem practicable at first glance. Perhaps you should negotiate with the Farzian Church on the matter," Jhastimia answered--and it was clear that she was only half joking. "Forgive me, ambassador, but this will be a delicate issue. However, we can certain arrange to have extensive discussions on the matter, as long as our existing policies do not result in trade infringement in the meanwhile. With any fortune an understanding can be made. I am just not sure of what nature."

"Perhaps brighter or luckier minds will find a solution for us in those discussions," replied Elizabeth before taking another sip on her glass. "If the Empress agrees to start making arrangements, I will happily send word to the President that the process has begun. In the meantime," she added, seeking to relieve the atmosphere with court gossip and small talk, "I have heard something of a new marriage being planned among the Midela Line's senior branch...."
Last edited by Steve on 2009-12-26 10:28am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Steve » 2007-07-01 10:49am

Palace of the Lesser Intuit
Talora Prime, Taloran Star Empire
12 October 2164 AST



It had been almost two years since Fayza al-Bakar's life had changed radically. Two years since her abduction, since she had endured torture and rape and humiliation on a soul-crushing scale, fought a short insurrection and a slightly longer war, and then been whisked off to Talora Prime a broken woman who's desire for sexual adventure had caused all that and the near-death of her best friend.
She wasn't even a normal person anymore. She was "Countess of Uralstia", an island on the frontier world of Eleutheria that Jhayka had bought to settle Amazons, Clanners, and other Humans from the Gilean Primitive Zone. A noble of the Taloran Empire, with all sorts of feudal rights, privileges, and responsibilities. Fayza actually didn't like the title too much; a part of her wanted to respectfully decline it and return home to the Alliance.
Return home to what though? She'd been discharged from the Navy, honorably, and had little hope of returning. She had little family left since her mother's death, and her father's family hated her as an apostate. She could get a job, but as a celebrated figure in the Gilean Crisis she would never know privacy in her life.

Nor did she plan to return to Gilead, the planet she should never have gone to in the first place, the planet that had scarred her permanently. Never in a hundred years would she return there.
At least, not until she found out she had a good reason why.
That reason was in her hand, a pair of letters carefully and beautifully hand-written, and a holodisc compatible with Taloran models. She moved quickly through the halls of the palace, passing one of Jhayka's polite cousins - who smiled fondly at her, as most pitied and respected her - on her way to Jhayka's office where she conducted the affairs of state for her principality. She was shown in, her large robes swaying with her movements as she entered the room. "Jhayka? A moment?"

Jhayka looked up from the grand wooden table behind which she settled, and offered a gentle smile to Fayza with the peculiar alertness of someone as disturbed and as addicted as she was, shifting another paper before finishing up. "Please, Fayza, sit down. What may I do for you?" They were quite informal amongst family, and Fayza and Priscilla, and to a certain extent Rodaka, had been adopted into the grander scheme of things, though the Norman girl was usually busy with her tutors. "I was going to address some of the details of my colonization plan for Eleutheria at table this evening, as a matter of fact.."

"I wanted to talk to you... about something." Fayza produced the letters and the holodisc and put them on the table. "I just got these, direct from the newly-arrived envoy of the Gilean government. You'll.... you'll want to see the disc, and then read the letter, but I'll tell you right now..." Swallowing hard, happy yet so sad, Fayza said, "Dani is awake, Jhayka. More than awake... she's... whole."

"That's impossible," Jhayka answered, stigmatic artificial eyes gazing blankly toward Fayza, a gaze with which everyone in the house was now familiar, of course. "The medical treatments were the forlorn hope, at best. How whole do you mean?" For all she denied it one second, she embraced it the next. "Can she... Walk? How are they reeducating her?" She reached for the holodisc and went to play it immediately, even as Fayza was there and she was waiting for the woman's answers.

"They did some new treatment on her. The Royal Medical College of Illustrious' Neurological Institute was working on some project with the Federation's Starfleet in ST-3, a new process of putting positronic implants into a damaged brain to replace and simulate brain functions." Fayza held up one of the letters. "She wrote... to both of us. They told her I was staying with you. She explained everything, the recovery, the telepathic therapy to regain her memories, everything..."
By this time Jhayka had gotten the disc activated, and they were treated to a sight. It was a recording of a grand ceremony in the Throne Room of the new Royal Palace of Gilead, built in southern Kalunda, and they both watched as Danielle, every bit as beautiful as when they'd last seen her and in a stunning silken dress, walked up to the throne of the teenage Queen Sara-Marie and gave feudatory vows.
"I pledge to you, Your Majesty, my oath of fealty and the fealty of my descendants, in the holy name of Farzbardor the Lord of Justice...."

The inhalation of breath was very sharp on Jhayka's part as she watched the ceremony, and it seemed that bitterness was trailing from her pores. "We recognized the Proctoran Dynasty, no less. The title is legitimate........ Duchess of Henley. Her Grace the Duchess of Henley... Danielle, the First Duchess of Henley..." It was as though she was going over the term over and over again in her head, unable, or unwilling, to stop, to take a moment to rest and process the magnitude of what had occurred. But she had to. She opened the letter with a filed down, broken old combat dagger that served as a letter-opener, and began to read it.

To my dearest Beloved,

I do not know what words I can write that will fit the feelings I have. I yearn for you so much now, and it was a dagger to my heart to learn that you were wed while I slept. If only I had been given better luck that day, we would have both been spared these pains.
But it was not to be. As Illavna would say, the Lord of Justice had his own plans for us. My road to recovery has been long and hard. My brain is half robotic now, operated by advanced electronics used to create a unique android in another universe; an android, I'm told, who has even aided in the research that made this letter possible.

Know that I do not blame you for what has happened. I can only imagine the hurt you suffered while I slept, the trials and sorrows. I know that you had to marry as you did and I am not angry, merely sad that the future we wanted together seems so out of reach. I hope that your new wife treats you kindly and loves you warmly, and once and a while, gives you a friendly ribbing so that the beautiful green blush of your cheeks comes out.
No matter what happens, no matter the things I must do as a part of my new responsibilities, I will always think of you, my precious beloved, and pray for the day we might be together again. If only for a moment, if only after I grow old and gray, I pray with all my heart that we will be together again.

May God watch over you as He has me.

With Best Love,
Dani

The second gasp was worst than the first. She looked like she'd been struck, and no longer even trying to politely conceal her addiction, settling, shuddering, back deeper into the plush chair, she reached for the needle-box and drew out the elegantly silvered hypodermic, measuring out the dosage herself right in front of Fayza, of the painkillers that worked inside of her, with the tremendous injuries and the lingering pain of the massive damage done her body in the siege. Her expression, her ears, even without her eyes, all betrayed even to a human the ghastly tumult of feelings inside of her. "What-What do you plan to do?" She asked, as she rolled up her left sleeve.

"I wanted to go see her. I'm told that she's now in the House of Lords of the Gilean planetary Parliament, and that their session ends next month. I intend to be there when it does." Fayza tried to hide her sadness over Jhayka's condition. She feared for what the drugs were doing to Jhayka, how they were effecting her emotions and her mind, and found herself always wondering how to save Jhayka from them.

Jhayka had, to her credit, never shown once a negative side effect, other than physical ones, which the Talorans tended to ignore. It was part of the rigorous discipline of the nobility, no doubt--as dependent as she was, she never let the drugs be in control. It was a continuous struggle which was the inevitable combination of both addiction on the one side, and the absolute demands of self-control her culture had placed on her from the moment she could think on the other side. She slipped the needle in and plunged it with a vague sigh, dead cybernetics looking to Fayza. Her initial vibrance settled into a sluggish relaxation at the effects of the drug as she delicately cleaned the hypodermic in alcohol and returned it to the case. "Fayza... Bring her back. I must see her again. I have my oaths to Drishalras. But..." It was almost but not quite a sob. "But she knows as well as I that if Danielle recovered, I would have to see her again. And so that much, at least, I must do. Please, bring her here, immediately. I will give you the fastest courier in the Principality."

Fayza nodded stiffly. She had, herself, not see her friend since the day their lives changed, and she had so much to apologize for. So much...
"I'll, I'll talk to her," Fayza promised. "For both your sakes, I'll bring her to see you."
"Just tell me when you'll be leaving, and I'll make the appropriate arrangements."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Vehrec » 2007-07-01 12:55pm

Gar. TGG fics make me want to create my own state. One that has features like an ant colony or a flock of birds. Decentralized government ftw!
Nac Mc Feagle wrote: Nae King! Nae Queen! Nae Lurd! Nae Masta! We Will Na' Be Fooled Again!
And as befits a HAB member, I would totaly neglect to give them anything like a normal military. Why muck around with planets? Just put all your resources in Orbitals, and then bomb the planets!
I really need to shut up about this.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-01 02:01pm

Vehrec wrote:Gar. TGG fics make me want to create my own state. One that has features like an ant colony or a flock of birds. Decentralized government ftw!
Nac Mc Feagle wrote: Nae King! Nae Queen! Nae Lurd! Nae Masta! We Will Na' Be Fooled Again!
And as befits a HAB member, I would totaly neglect to give them anything like a normal military. Why muck around with planets? Just put all your resources in Orbitals, and then bomb the planets!
I really need to shut up about this.
You're ignoring the fact that planets have more physical space than any other object a humanoid can survive on, so they have more generator capacity than any other object--being in the high orbitals around a major industrial world in TGG is suicide.
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Post by Alan Bolte » 2007-07-02 01:06am

Loving it!!!
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-02 06:27am

Palace of the Dhin Intuitan Princes,
Talora Prime
14 October 2164 AST.
38 Taliya, I.Y. 618.



It had been two days later when Jhayka finally got in touch with Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno. The woman who had played her like a istilk and married her to a woman.. I'm not completely unhappy to be married to, she had to think, though that thought just made her even more upset. For a whole season, now, a period of time nearly as long as a human year, she'd been relying on Drishalras' letters as the final bond which would keep her from cracking entirely, a narrow conduit down which the good in her life came. Drishalras had now been gone for four and a half Taloran months, and her deployment would end in another month and a half, the Slashahkimmar would return proudly home...

Jhayka drove her fist into the table hard enough to send a reverberating boom through the house at the same moment that Jhastimia's holo-image was displayed one-fourth size in front of her. Her ears flung back at the shock of the surprise noise, gray-blue eyes looking to Jhayka through a frame of lavender hair with a quizzical look. “Why planning to drive me deaf, hmm?”

“Thinking of Drishalras coming home,” Jhayka answered vaguely.

“That attached, already? Relax; it's just another month and a half, if I recall correctly.”

“You do. But, no, I'm not that attached and yet I'm attached at the same time and---Damn you to Idenicamos' harem, you schemer, you plotter, but Danielle has recovered! She's fully recovered! Sara-Marie has made her the Duchess of Henley! My situation may as well be completely insane for all this that's happened... What am I to do?”

“First, calm yourself, Jhayka,” Jhastimia answered, ignoring the words which could have led to an extremely tense situation, and which had for a moment given her a flash of anger. Yet she'd not be so easily dissuaded into something very silly. One thing about being the Empress' confidante was an ability to supreme discreetness, which included knowing when a slight ought be ignored.

“Second of all, remember your promises to Drishalras and to Drishalras' mother. Your position could at once become tenuous again, and I don't wish that to happen.”

“And I'm in love!”

“The love of the Sword and the General was unrequited, Jhayka. You can't even say that about your's with Danielle. It will simply have to change in some way, I suppose.” She frowned for a moment at that, but then shrugged as her ears swiveled back, slowly, betraying some nervousness at the prospect of another outburst. “Just be very careful. If you start cheating on the daughter of your biggest supporter in the convocate and break her heart, seeing how her family as dotted on her so, it'll turn your transformation from the enfant terrible of Valeria into a reclusive matriarch of your house back around overnight, and worse.”

“I'm going to bring her here no matter what,” Jhayka answered coldly, dead cybernetic eyes emphasizing the point. “You cannot stop me in that regard. Especially not now that the whole government has decided to take the moral high ground with the passport issue to forestall the Convocate....”

“Don't change the subject. You are going to keep your oaths, aren't you?”

“So we've traded insults,” Jhayka observed markedly, for it was a high offence to be asked for an oath of an oath, as it were called. “Yes, of course I am, Jhastimia. I love Danielle, but I can love her, and make her happy, without the sort of romantic relationship we once had. I just want her back.”

“Then why did you call?”

“Because I'm... I'm bitter, confused, and angry over how all of this is played out. I'm trapped between the love of my life, and a very beautiful fine young Princess who loves me very much and would sacrifice anything for my sake. And, reallly, for all they say that crowds are a good thing in romance, I could use to gut my heart out right about now—and yes, I am not serious. I haven't come this far to send myself to the Legions of Deception by suicide. I'd probably have to spend the next ten thousand years with Altonas at my side, gloating..

“Well, you're a friend, Jhastimia. And also the friend who is in no small part the person who got me into this. But also the person who picked me up each time I erred, and has tried to do her best for me. ..Do your best by me again, please? Or have I used up the stores of friendship already?”

Eyes and ears betrayed the expressions with Jhastimia as her face softened, and she thought back to the old Army Academy days where they'd first known each other, Jhayka the young plebe who tagged along on some escapades that Jhastimia would have to admit involved more than a bit of hellraising right up until the end of her upper term. “I'll make sure any gossip over this is quashed so fast it doesn't even need to be refuted,” Jhastimia answered, “and make sure that the King of Kings knows you will not betray your oaths to his daughter. I will think about whether or not there is anything more I can do.. And I suppose we will see if the time comes where there is a need.”

Her next comment, however, was an order: “Get off those damned drugs, Jhayka. You may have to wait until Drishalras returns, and if so, acceptable. But get off them. They're the real reason for this call. You're on combat drugs and you don't know how to deal with the situation except to be combative when you're hyped on those, and toward the person who has always just tried to help you, no less.”

“I will try. It's a hard task.”

“Good. We nobles were born to suffer.” Jhastimia cut the connection with those words.
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Post by Spice Runner » 2007-07-02 10:39pm

Simply full of awesome.

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Post by Steve » 2007-07-03 12:07pm

Kalunda, Gilead
Gilean Commonwealth
Universe Designate CON-5
66 Taliya I.Y. 618
10 November 2164 AST



The Willingham-Mannerhoff Hotel of Kalunda was one of the ritziest, priciest, hotels in the Multiverse, with nightly rates exceeding $500 ADN ($700 Gilead was the officially quoted rate), newly built along the Kalunda River not too far from the famous Sackon warehouse. It was right upon the river and included a marina and boating service for guests, while possessing palatial suites and individual rooms with the finest luxuries, as well as the usual five-star amenities.
One of the hotel's features was a large, splendid dining hall and ball room, and it was here that the crowd of well-to-do Kalundans, Gileans, and foreign dignitaries had gathered in celebration of the recent success of the government, the acceptance of the Gilean Commonwealth Constitution by the Parliament of New Friesland, which had failed to approve it before and nearly provoked a political crisis in the newly-formed state.

Danielle Verdes was standing in this posh crowd, wearing a gorgeous, glittering violent purple dress with spaghetti straps that flattered her body's figure. She had a necklace with a gem in it barely off the shade of Jhayka's hair, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.
Being a single noblewoman brought it's fair share of suitors, despite the fact that everybody knew about her love for another woman - an alien woman at that. She had just now managed to shake off one, a younger son of a Count from the Hispanic Empire serving with his nation's ambassadorial staff, and was leery of another coming.
She might have gotten shelter with the other high-born Kalundan women, standing off to their own, but she saw Sarina there and knew she wouldn't be welcome. Learning of the death of Amber had gone hand in hand with learning about how viciously angry and hateful Sarina had gotten for Jhayka... and by extension, people connected to her.

The chamberlain at the door was announcing new arrivals, a long custom in CON-5 centuries old, and Dani found that she knew almost none of them. She was standing alone, waiting for someone she knew to talk to (and there were precious few of those) and contemplating leaving the party early when she heard "Presenting Her Ladyship, the Countess of Uralstia" and her head turned, surprised to see a Taloran attending.
A look of pleasant shock came to Dani's face when she saw Fayza enter the ballroom in elegant fashion. She had a strapless evening gown, a deep navy blue color, with plunging neckline and ankle-length trim. Dani was surprised to see her hair had grown to a pleasant length and was not kept in any buns or tails; Fayza had always kept it so short the years they'd known each other.
"Fay?" she called out, and a couple heads turned to see the commotion as Fayza reacted by coming up to her and calling out her name, giving her a big hug. "It's so good to see you," Dani said with delight, a tear coming to her eye.
"I'm glad to see you're okay, I've been so worried about you." Fayza was holding back tears herself, trying not to think of all the guilt she felt over what happened to Dani in the first place.

Having Fayza present was enough to make Dani's mood lighter. Fayza was her best friend, the best she'd had in a long while (Even if she'd, for a while, wished for it to be something more), and seeing her again was one of the best things that could happen to her. It gave her someone to talk to, someone she could speak with on equal fashion unlike the servants at her new estate or the subordinates at the House of Lords or her old crewhands in Kalunda, who were more interested in veneration than casual talk.
"How is everyone? I heard you were living with Jhayka's family."
"Oh, we're all quite fine. Illavna is off at school, Priscilla is commanding a division of Jhayka's army, and Rodaka is still being tutored..."
"Wait. Who's Rodaka?" asked Dani.
"Oh, the Norman girl. The one Illavna befriended." Fay saw the confusion still on Dani's face. "She didn't tell you about her? She first met her while you were staying in Ar."

That cursed name made them both unconsciously blanch a little; they each had horrible memories of the city. "She renamed it after me," Dani said softly. "I didn't know how to feel, y'know? That she'd renamed their capital city after me. Did you know they want me to live there?"
Fayza looked at Dani increduously. "Really? Knowing what happened?"
Dani nodded softly. "Ar.... Verdesmarn... " Just saying that name felt surreal to Dani. "The planetary government wants to organize the city as the capital of the region because of it's position on the rail lines. And since I'm Duchess of Henley, the figure representing them, they say I should live there. In the city where I was touched against my will and then tortured half to death. Given half the people here think I'm insane for being a lesbian in love with a Taloran woman, putting me in a city I'll have nightmares about for the rest of my life isn't exactly the wisest thing."
"I know the feeling," Fayza said, not particularly desiring to return to a city where she was brutalized and gang-raped. "So, if you're not there, where are you living?"
"I found this beautiful home on the east bank of the Henley in old Amazon territory, no far from the rail line. It actually used to be a manor and fortress for the local Amazon magistrate, since the river was the old border with the Normans. The owners died in the war and it defaulted to a distant neice who is moving with Leeasa Avrila to... what's the planet Jhayka bought?"
"Eleutheria," Fayza replied, "about three hundred light years from Earth."

"Yeah. Anyway, back when Sara first began her plotting on this title they gave me, she bought the estate and had it modernized. They'd just finished the last bits of wiring and redecorating when I got here. So that's where I'm staying. In another month the direct road connection to Kalunda will be finished and I won't have to take the train, unless I want to anyway. And I don't particularly like going right past Ar." Dani smiled at Fayza. "Want to stay there? I have plenty of room."
"I don't mind the thought, Fayza answered, "but I wasn't planning on staying long. Jhayka... really, really wants to see you, Dani."
"And I her, but I... I didn't know if I should come or not, at least not until I know when her new wife will be home so she won't think we're up to funny business." Dani looked down. It was odd, as for the longest time she'd had some pretty romantic feelings for Fayza too, and now Fay was playing the go-between for her and Jhayka. "I love her too much to hurt her, Fay."
"You don't understand, Dani. Jhayka.... she needs to see you. Urgently."
"I... I don't trust myself, I don't trust myself not to lunge across the room and kiss her." Dani saw the look in Fayza's eyes. "Is she really...?"
"I was told to bring choloroform and rope," Fayza joked. "Yes, Dani, she does. For both of your goods. Things... have not been good for Jhayka since the siege. I dont' want to say, not here, but...."
"That's fine, we'll talk on the train ride home," Dani replied. "So, you must tell me what Talora Prime is like..."
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Post by Steve » 2007-07-05 05:31am

Verdes Estate, Henley
Gilead, Gilean Commonwealth
67 Taliya I.Y. 618
11 November 2164 AST


Dani's new home along the river was as spacious as promised, once belonging to one of the wealthier magistrates in the old Amazon Confederacy. Many of the local workers who provided Dani's servants and farmhands were themselves Amazons, the "marked" ones that had not joined Leeasa Avrila and were therefore barred from emigration to Eleutheria. A road inked it to the rail line, and from there a small station allowed her to board a private train to Kalunda, one she had sarcastically named Lesbian Express given that the crew was made of Amazons and meant for her transport only.
Dani's bedroom was on the third floor of the manor, complete with a balcony overlooking the Henley River. The river had a bloody history, with countless Amazons, Normans, and slaves having left their bones in it. The conflict over it could be testified to by the still-existant stone wall along her manor's eastern perimeter, from which the magistrate's forces once looked over the river with crossbows, bows, and javelins, and in more recent years, bolt-action rifles. Now only a handful of Gilean Army troops were there, her official protection assigned due to the kidnapping/assassination attempt on Devenshire two months ago.

When Dani woke up, she put on a simple robe and looked out on this sight, but her heart wasn't considering what she saw but what she had heard the previous night. Fayza had told her everything and it broke Dani's heart that Jhayka had still not recovered from the siege, that her body was wracked by addiction. It drove her desire to see her, to help her, to even greater heights.
Tears were running down her eyes at the thought of Jhayka in such desperate need, and her fear of the harm she could do to Jhayka by being around her. Dani didn't trust herself, she couldn't. She loved Jhayka so fiercely, longed for her so much, how could she resist the impulse, day by day, to make love with her?

There was noise at the door and Dani turned to face an eighteen year old Amazon girl, with lovely dusk-tanned skin from Persian ancestry and chocolate brown eyes to go with her dark hair. The girl was dressed in proper uniform and dress for an estate servant, most of the Amazons here having willingly abandoned their breast-baring fashions save for a few old die-hards. "Your Grace, your guest is... she is not well."
"What do you mean, Drusilla?"
"She is... she is crying, very hard."
Oh no, Fay, what did they do to you, Dani wondered as young Drusilla led her to the guest room where Fayza had spent the night. She heard the crying in the hall, and entered to find Fayza curled up against the wall, chin resting on her knees, sobbing. "Fay? Fay...." Dani knelt down by her. "What's wrong?"
"He hurt me," Fayza cried. "I was hanging by my arms and legs, and he pulled my legs apart, and.... and...." Sobbing cut off the description of whatever torture she was remembering. "He told me I was his. That he could do it whenever he wanted! And I COULDN'T STOP HIM! I COULDN'T STOP HIM! HE MADE ME HIS SLUT!"
"Shhh..... shhh......"
"Why did I do it?" Another sob. "Why did I come here?! WHY DID I COME HERE?! WHY DID HE HURT ME?! IT'S ALL MY FAULT!"
"Fay, shh, it's okay.... he's dead, they're all dead. They can't hurt you anymore." Dani held Fayza close. She was familiar with these kinds of nightmares. Reliving the torture, or drowning in the river, often enough in her sleep.
Fayza said no more, breaking down into weeping, and all Dani could do was hold onto her friend tightly and mourn the fact that she had not been there for Fay these past two years.


Planetary Parliament Building, Kalunda
Gilead, Gilean Commonwealth



Fayza's attack had given way to calm in time for her to get ready and go to Kalunda with Dani. She had actually gotten formally dressed on the train ride, wearing a sleeveless green blouse and patterned blue skirt, and Dani had issued her with the credentials to watch the House of Lords commence it's debate from the gallery.
The Gilean planetary government had been re-modeled after the British Parliament, with the democratically elected Gilean Assembly as lower house and the appointed House of Lords as an upper house. There were a number of different types of members of the House of Lords, including the hereditary aristocrats like Dani, Count d'Estaing from the Sedevacanticists, and Dao Zi, representative of the Zhai Kingdom. Republican constituencies that were not stricken of their rights by the Mandatory Regime, such as the Wiccan Kelvintowne, were granted Senators, appointed by the Regency Council in the Queen's name, to represent them in the House of Lords, an arrangement born entirely of the disputes on the new government between the intervening powers. The House of Lords did, admittedly, have some more powers than most of it's British counterparts, but it was no Convocate of Nobles or Senate.

Dani was in a seat midway down, dressed in a respectful blue blouse and ankle-length dress, fiddling with a device in her hand. It was a Motorola V15 PDA, like the one Fayza was holding, and the two were linked. Fayza could see her friend was bored stiff as some matter or another was debated, though she seemed to be working on her PDA.
A moment later it vibrated in Fayza's hand, and she picked it up. On the screen was a stick figure, with a frowning face and head drawn with long hair, clearly meant to represent Dani. "Talking talking talking talking, always talking...." was written in a word baloon beside the figure.
After a vote was taken on a subject, Dani went to work again, and Fay giggled when she saw a childish sketch of a starship with massive guns appear on her screen. "Oooh, big guns! We must always build BIG GUNS! They are cool!" was the new sentence in the Dani-stick figure's word balloon.

Fayza wrote back, playfully replying, "It'd be a nightmare to work on something like that, too much stress on the frame."
A few moments later, a reply. "You're no fun!" Then a new design popped up, one of a nature which made Fayza blush and try to hide the screen. "This looks good, doesn't it?", was the text for it. "I want one."
Her reply, a few moments later, was, "Dani, I thought nobles were supposed to be above dirty things?"
And then... "I never agreed to give up being horny."
Trying to suppress her giggles, Fayza replied, "Aren't you supposed to be paying attention to this session?"
The response soon popped up. "Why? They're debating whether to allow the Assembly to fund repairs on a roadway in the eastern half of Atlantica. It's going to pass no matter what I say or do because nobody wants to hear the Wiccans bitch. Wake me when we get to naval rearmament."

A couple issues later, a rather lovely but shrill-voiced woman stood up and harangued the House of Lords. She was Catalina Lucia Solivar, Countess of San Cristobal de Galanzo in Southern Pacifica (the secondary continent on Gilead). Her subject, of course, was on the failure of the government to do more to "convince" Wiccans and "other polytheists and atheists" to convert, and that a failure to do so would only mean disloyalty to the Crown.
Fayza listened to the hateful screed ruefully, remembering that Wiccans had helped saved many girls from Illian Berglund and had served in the Resistance and then the Berglunder Army faithfully, and a tone brought her attention to her PDA. Dani's stick-figure was back again, and this time the text read, "I can't believe it, but when that woman gets going, she turns me on."
A groan came from Fayza, even as a second message from Dani flashed, "Though she is a real bitch. I thnk I'd just tie her up and spank her for a while before I did anything to make her come."
Rolling her eyes, Fayza didn't reply on that issue at all, but asked, "How do you even get along here? You act bored."
"I am bored, Fay. Terribly bored. Thank God this is the last day of our session and I'll have six months off to see Jhayka."

Sighing, Fay went back to watching the ongoing discussions, trying to absorb all the protocols of speaking, who has the floor and can speak, and how votes were carried.
Finally Dani seemed to take interest in an issue, the last of the day. It was a motion on funding a civil war memorial in Kelvintowne for the people there who died fighting for the intervention forces. Countess Solivar rose up and in shrill denunciation decried the idea of honoring "rootless polytheists" who were, in "my view and the views of many good, honest Gileans, as responsible for the catastrophe as the barbarians were!".
This got Fayza's blood up, but it was Dani who could speak before the House, and she asked for the floor. Eyes turned, as everyone knew that the Duchess of Henley, an engineer by trade, was more interested in those matters than anything.

"That is the most hateful and unworthy argument to have ever been made in this House," Dani boldly remarked. "As a Farzian I believe the Wiccan faith to be as untrue as Christians think it is, but we have a duty to recognize those who sacrifice for Good no matter the beliefs they hold! This memorial would commemorate the good men and women who fought and died for freedom, for civilization, against the barbarism of the Normans! It is a monument to the best to be found among the subjects of Her Majesty the Queen. To deny it is to do no less than abrogate our duties to Her Majesty!"
Applause and disagreement briefly broke out before order was called for, and Fay found that her friend's short appeal had stolen Solivar's momentum. Other voices approved the memorial, and it was voted on by a comfortable margin. With that, the House of Lords ended it's 2843 session, and would not convene for six more months. Dani could now go see Jhayka.
Fayza just hoped that the visit would make things better, not worse.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Alan Bolte » 2007-07-05 05:42am

Steve wrote: Fayza just hoped that the visit would make things better, not worse.
That would be far too easy, though.
Any job worth doing with a laser is worth doing with many, many lasers. -Khrima
There's just no arguing with some people once they've made their minds up about something, and I accept that. That's why I kill them. -Othar
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-06 01:19am

HSMS Slashahkimmar,
Dastramik March.
12 November 2164 AST.
67 Taliya, I.Y. 618.



The battlecruiser Slashahkimmar was a truly incredible ship. At 2,250 meters long it was far longer than any alliance design, or indeed most other ships in the multiverse except for truly tremendous bulk freighters, and of course the Taloran superdreadnoughts themselves. The hull was, however, only 250 meters in beam, and 300 meters in height, so that the ratios were as fine as those of an old water-born battlecruiser.

Like all Taloran battlecruisers she was armed with the heavy particle cannon which were identical to those mounted on Taloran dreadnoughts and battleships. Her contemporary class in the dreadnought rating, however, the Empress Saverana II-class, mounted fourteen quadruple turrets for the massive particle cannon, 56 in all. Conversely, the Kalammi-class battlecruisers mounted four triple and six twin turrets. The triple turrets were in the A and E positions fore and aft, ventral and dorsal; the twin turrets occupied the B,C,D positions with the dorsal C turret masked fore and aft, and the ventral C turret conversely capable of 360 degrees of open field of fire, as was standard for Taloran ships. In all she mounted 24 guns, all of which could fire in the broadside; this was precisely half the broadside of the Empress Saverana II class. Her rate of fire was a full-power broadside every 15 seconds; conversely the larger dreadnoughts could, by deactivating the two quadruple turrets masked in broadside fire, manage a full-power broadside every 12 seconds.

Her superstructure rose precipituously out of a hull that looked like two real ship hulls had been taken, one turned upside down atop the other, and fused together. It was really a vast collection of armoured sensor equipment and docking stations and points for CIWS and other light weaponry, though one could mistake the two halves with the turret in between for the command and control sections of an old naval warship. The ventral superstructure was just a box with rounded edges, with two side-launch/recovery bays, one foreward and one aft of the C turret. Great, very vertically thick but horizontally long wings extended out of the midsection of the hull at mid-level. These, projecting out a couple hundred meters, met very long and narrow cigar-shaped outriggers, each one 600 meters long and about 120 meters wide at the widest point.

Today, Her Highness Captain Drishalras Retgariu, Princess of the Coasts, had her most difficult day in her life. The Kalammi-class, once intended to comprise of 80 ships of the most modern type, had been reduced to only eight ships of which the Slashahkimmar was the second, for the sake of a massive increase in the number of fleet carriers being built to try and match the Alliance and deal with their starfighters. But the Alliance fighters were far smaller than their own, and they were accordingly far more numerous. So a further solution was needed. Battlecruisers were virtually unarmoured—though they could transfer their engine power to shield banks which were as strong as those of a dreadnought—and were not intended to fight in the line despite the power of their guns. The idea was proposed to equip them with pods—the pods were modular, but normally only carried massed missile banks—which were self-contained fighter operations systems. Each one had sixteen launching tubes and two aft landing strips.

Drishalras was not a starfighter commander. The ship's airgroup commander, Wing Commander Tilas Ritam, was, and he was more at home with these operations; the Starfleet and the starfighter corps had no small bit of rivalry, though, especially since the starfigher corps and its adjunctant aersopace fighter corps was unique among Taloran military branches in being almost entirely male in the combat arms, and a lot of the females were human females. Accordingly she had essentially had to learn how to direct airgroup operations in the midst of extensive manoeuvres. By all accounts she had done rather well; the 192 fighters of the combined airgroup of the Slashahkimmar had performed excellently and she had held up.

But the experience in major fleet manoeuvres, even after five months of deployment on her beautiful battlecruiser, was extremely exhausting, especially since it had been taken very seriously: It had a second purpose in intimidating the Dastramik.

She returned to her quarters and settled down at her desk, a plush, leather-bound chair there and the desk made of real wood, all gifts from her father. But what she cared about more was the picture of Jhayka on the table. She stared at it, longingly, for a long moment, and then looked at the reports on the computer that she really ought take care of before stripping off her clothes and stumbling about for her first bath in three days, and then sleep. A cold wrap had been laid out on the desk thoughtfully by her batgirl, and she was already eating it, when she realized something.

The ship's dispatches and fresh supplies should have arrived several hours ago, when the dispatch ship had made its rounds of the squadron just after the end of the exercises. Which meant there should have been two, maybe three scrolls neatly bound up and tied in silk cords. The letters from her wife, the Princess Jhayka. The letters she had promised would always come.

The wrap was dropped unthinkingly back onto the plate. Drishalras was an exceptionally intelligent woman; perhaps smarter than the neurotic and romantic individual she'd married, whose heart and brashness often hurt her intelligence. Her yellow eyes closed and she yanked against her own red hair, sobbing as Talorans do, the body wracked with convulsion but without enough tears gathering to ever fall on the cheeks. For the past five Taloran months, a human year, Jhayka had been perfectly faithful in writing the letters to her.

She knew the one reason that would change that. The only reason. She had looked into her wife's, her love's heart; and knew that Jhayka would always love one single woman more. And she had accepted that. But Drishalras had never seriously considered the possibility that Danielle Verdes would recover. And she knew now that all of her happy plans and dreams for the future, her desire for them to arrange a heir perhaps soon after she'd returned home, were all smashed and brought to dust.

“No,” the word was whispered. Her eyes opened; she looked into the picture. “I... She's sending a signal by not writing me. She's not being dishonest. She'll... Keep her oaths, I can hope. I hope. And out of that... We can find something which still leaves us content in each other.”

She had no one to talk to but herself. She could not, as she had done before, write letters to Jhayka. She would let Jhayka write her, when Jhayka felt that she could; or else they would not speak again until they saw each other in the flesh. She was a captain, of a ship, and she could only open up to other captains, removed even from her own officers, dining alone save in formal events. It was the loneliest job in the universe under normal circumstances.

Under these, even the piratically optimistic Drishalras would be tested to keep her spirits up. A false hope clinged at her: It was an accident; the messages had simply missed the ship. But she couldn't bring herself to send a frantic message to Jhayka along those lines; to be, if it were true, the paranoid lover. Instead it was addressed to a woman whom she knew would give an honest answer, without mincing words. Trembling, twelve fingers danced on the keyboard as she wrote it out: Your Grace, the Ducal Pretender of Pranton, Priscilla Laurentii, Greeting.....
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Post by Steve » 2007-07-07 06:40am

P.D.I.S. Ytrashla, 20 Hours Out from Talora Prime
Taloran Star Empire, Taloran Home Universe
8 December 2164 AST
20 J'ina I.Y. 618



The nimble Ytrashla continued on her hurried way, bearing Dani Verdes and Fayza al-Bakar back to Talora Prime. Only after three weeks of travel, first through the direct non-hyperspace route from Gilead to the Taloran rift and then on to Talora Prime, were they even this close to making it.
Dani had spent the trip a nervous wreck. Most nights she dined with Fayza, and other nights she couldn't manage it from her fear and anxiety. Would Jhayka push her away for fear of what could happen if they met? Would her mere presence destroy the things Jhayka had married to preserve? Would they even allow for Dani to see her?

Fayza had assured her that Drishalras was a nice girl, less than 20 years older than Dani and thus rather young by Taloran standards, and that she was away with the service. Which made Dani's fears all the worse, and at times she'd considered turning back, leaving on her own to avoid the agony and humiliation of rejection upon her arrival. Such fears dominated her nightmares, at times intermingling with those nightmares she had about drowning and the torture she suffered in Xueson's basement.
The two were seated in the eloquent dining hall built into the ship, linking their two bedrooms and the couple of others on the small, swift courier. This had been where they had enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner just a bit over a week ago and where the Taloran chef hired by Jhayka had provided them with many excellent meals. Currently it was roast duck and a variety of pastas and salads, Dani trying desperately to get rid of the bit of flab that had appeared on her belly over the months of convalescence and reduced activity without resorting to drugs and treatments.

The ship's communication officer called them on the intercom, informing them that a call had come for "Her Grace the Duchess of Henley". Dani dismissed herself from the table, leaving Fayza to finish her portion of the meal while she went to her room and took the call. The woman who appeared was well dressed for Talorans, which meant exceedingly colorful for humans, with long lavender hair and light blue eyes that were examining Dani intently. "This is the Duchess. May I ask whom I am speaking with?"

"A friend of Jhayka's," the lavendar-haired woman answered rather coyly. "So. Danielle Verdes, the Duchess of Henley. We meet at last, after a fashion--and no doubt in person soon enough--and you seem to be doing well for a person thought entirely dead." Her refusal to identify herself, combined with the fact that she did not use 'Your Grace' to refer to Danielle, indicated that the woman thought she was Danielle's social superiour. Her use of the name Jhayka for Her Highness the Princess of Dhin Intuit meant she was at least a Princess herself, and possibly... More important than that. "Why are you coming to Talora Prime when Henley is in such poor condition? I imagine the matter must be quite personally urgent for you."

"Henley has capable men and women to run things without me for a time," Dani replied, not entirely comfortable with the way the woman was speaking to her. She seemed haughty and proud, a bit too proud, and certainly powerful. "I came to see Jhayka. I want to see how she's doing."

"She's doing fine," the woman answered simply. "Her wife will return to her soon, and then the only problem she's suffering from will shortly be remedied. I've actually spoken with Drishalras about it.... I suppose the Countess of Uralstia told you. Combat drugs, of course. I heard from intelligence reports that you don't use them in the Alliance, which to us seems odd. Most of the nobility has probably used them at some point or another, so it's hardly an uncommon issue. You can break your addiction to them with sufficient force of will. I've used them myself, once before. I understand she's also taking painkillers, but considering the amount of damage to her body, and the way she developed a severe infection just after her cybernetics were implanted, the nerves around the joints can be prone to continued pain of indefinite duration due to damage in the inflammatory period. Her medical condition is, in short, perfectly normal." The Taloran's ears bent down, outwards, not forward, almost like a questioning squint. "Bluntly, Danielle of Henley: Are you here simply to inquire after her health, or are you here to be her lover again?"

Dani took in a breath. It was the question she'd asked herself over and over again, and all of her doubts about if she could control her passions returned. Finally, tears coming to her eyes, Dani replied bluntly, "I love Jhayka too much to hurt her in any way. I... I just want to see her, one last time if need be." As the tears came down her eyes, Dani sniffled and almost sobbed, "If it's asked of me, I'll never come back, no matter how much it hurts. I just want to see her."

"I don't have the power to ask that of you, and, Danielle of Henley, I wouldn't." The Taloran seemed to appreciate the emotional response--which, because sobbing was so rare in the noble place, and she extended Danielle the benefit of the doubt--seemed to be an expression of extremely considerable emotion. "I'm a friend of her's. Did... Did she ever tell you very much about Lashila of the Clan Yuvan and Motherline of Ghiatar?"

"The one who betrayed her," Danielle replied. "The one who nearly cost her everything."

"Quite." She hesitated for a moment, and then.... "We were friends at the academy, back in the day. When the situation with Lashila came apart, she came to me. I was the one who... Arranged things to save the Empress' life based on the information she provided me. At the time, doing so caused a very large scandal, in no small part due to my own actions. But it was largely blamed on her, and only the outrage of what I had done to the Convocate guaranteed she be not punished. Suffice to say... She is in dangerous terrain right now. Her reputation has largely been restored, and she is highly popular with the common folk, while the marriage with Drishalras has brought an air of respectability to her again. But Drishalras is the daughter of the King of Kings of Rasilan, Jhayka's main defender in the Convocate. If she were to cheat on Drishalras... Well, her father dotes on her utterly. She is a rather eccentric type, and the baby of their family. She is finally happy, even though I am not fully sure if Jhayka is. If you destroy Drishalras' happiness.. It is quite possible that the resulting scandal will probably come as high as a declaration of kanly by her father, and general social shunning for Jhayka."

"That's what I don't want," Dani said. "I'll leave and never come back to prevent that from happening, no matter how much it hurts. It'd hurt me more to know I'd caused Jhayka to suffer like that. And... I wouldn't do that to Drishalras. I've heard too many good things about her, and I know what it's like to be in her position. You have my word that I will leave after I see Jhayka."

"I don't want you to do that," the woman answered after a moment's thought, and at some length. "She is deeply in love with you, Danielle of Henley. I just want you to remain celibate in regard to her. I want your word that you won't sleep with her. Stay as long as you wish, otherwise, and visit as many times as you wish. But don't bring everything crashing down on her head, please. She deserves better than that, and I have covered for her as much as I could. I'll admit to you outright that I'm the one who arranged the marriage between her and Drishalras. Because I wanted her to be stable, I didn't want another scandal to hurt her. And I thought you were as good as dead, to be honest. But you've proved not just alive, but a very worthy person. I heard about your conversion, Danielle of Henley. Help Jhayka to keep her oath before Farzbardor, don't tempt her instead. Remember... The love of my ancestress with Taliya was never consummated." She delicately revealed precisely where she was in the Taloran world in the conclusion, though all the information provided offered most of the pieces of the puzzle to Danielle.

It's her. The Archduchess Leluno, Dani realized. "Your Royal Highness, I give you my solemn vow I won't sleep with Jhayka. An embrace will be as far as I will let myself go. If I must leave the day I arrive to keep that oath, I will."

"I don't think that will be necessary. You're both noblewomen. And..." She smiled vaguely, gently amused. "Leluno is only a Grand Royal, not an Imperial, Appanage, so I'm only entitled to be called Her Serene Grace. At any rate... Beware. If you really want to help her, you can start weaning her off those combat drugs now, instead of waiting for Drishalras to return home. And that may mean many a long night in a chair by her bed, wishing you could join her in it."

"Fayza told me how badly she is addicted. I'll... I'll do my best to get her off the drugs." Dani sniffled a little, quailing at the prospect of that ultimate temptation as Jhastimia had just described it. "Your Serene Grace, might I write to Princess Drishalras?"

"I think that would be wise, actually. Battlecruiser Slashahkimmar of the 86th Battlecruiser Squadron, Dastramik March Oversector Command; Captain Her Highness Drishalras Retgariu, Princess of the Coasts, commanding, addressed to the CO. That should be enough information for your ship's communications system to get the message to her, I do believe," Jhastimia concluded.

Dani made sure that the address was recorded. "Do you know how long it will take for the message to arrive? I'll send it electronically... and when will she be returning from deployment?"

"Her ship isn't due to return until the 4th of next month--fifty-seven days, or two human months about. Our operational deployments generally last about a bit longer than a human year," she explained to Danielle, adding, after a moment's calculation, "probably about two days, give or take. Our FTL comms are fairly fast, and the Dastramik March is one of the closer border marches."

"I will write the letter and send it immediately, Your Serene Grace," Dani replied. "Is there anything else?" Dani desperately wanted to get the Archduchess off the screen so that she could break down and cry to herself.

"No. Thank you for you time, Danielle of Henley." The lavendar haired woman's image vanished of her own accord.

When the Archduchess' image disappeared, Dani broke down sobbing. She remained in her room for a great while, crying on the bed and into her pillow, before she calmed down enough to compose the letter she knew she'd have to send sooner or later. She'd already partially finished it, but now gave it the final touches before ordering it's transmission to the Slashahkimmar.

Your Highness,

We have not been formally introduced, I fear. I am Danielle Bethania Verdes, Duchess of Henley. And I confess to you now that I love your wife Jhayka without reservation. My heart wishes never to part with her and to be with her until my death.

I shall also confess to you that I have the utmost sympathy for your position... for I have been there as well. I once had a lover, a woman named Sharon, whom I cared for deeply. She was the first lover that I truly considered as a lover in the eternal sense, not just a short-term relationship but someone I felt devoted toward. But she, for all she might have loved me, had another she loved more deeply, someone she had endured great trials and pain with, and when this woman returned to her Sharon picked her over me.

I know that pain, Your Highness. I will never cause another person to suffer it. Nor will I destroy everything Jhayka has regained. I will stay alone for the rest of my life to preserve Jhayka's marriage to you, no matter how much it hurts me. If I am fortunate, God might yet soothe the pain by providing me with a spouse like you have been to my beloved Jhayka.

So I only intend to remain long enough to see Jhayka, and if our hearts can take it, to help her in her physical afflictions. I will leave before I allow things to go any further than that, for Jhayka's sake, for my sake, and for your sake. I wish you Godspeed on your deployment and a safe voyage home.


With utmost affection,
Danielle Verdes

The letter written and transmitted, Dani returned to the dinner hall to finish her meal, Fayza having already retired for the day to sleep. She soon found she didn't have much of an appetite, but forced herself to eat. She'd need the energy when she met Jhayka, to resist the temptation to violate the promises she had just made.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-08 04:48am

HSMS Slashahkimmar,
Dastramik March.
10 December 2164 AST.
22 J'ina, I.Y. 618.



She wrote me. It took Drishalras a while to process the words and what they meant, to understand that Danielle at least professed no desire to destroy her happiness. And she had already received a reply some weeks ago from Priscilla, explaining the matter of Jhayka's having heard of Danielle's recovery, and the sore point that had left her in. But she was increasingly feeling improved in her sentiments toward the human woman as she considered what it had taken for her to write the letter.

Drishalras wished that she knew a way out of the dilemma. Reading about Danielle's past suffering in life had left her feeling more than a little sorry for the other woman, and it seemed that her own happiness had been founded on someone else's pain. Altogether, it did not sit well with her. Is it truly unfair that I condemn her to another lost love as she had before? But we're locked in our courses; Jhayka and I are married and this can't be undone, and I don't want it to be at any rate.

Her ship wouldn't be heading home for more than thirty days. Danielle had, based on the transmission stamps of the message, certainly already arrived on Talora Prime, and met with her wife. Drishalras could only wait and wonder what was happening there, what she would find when she got home. She converted, Priscilla had said. Trust that she'll obey the religious laws she went to by strength of conviction, surely? Would not anything else be an immoral assumption in and of itself?

The Slashahkimmar would spend the next thirty-two days patrolling, and then head home for maintenance while the crew received furlough. They still had plenty of work to do, though at least the fighter operations were starting to come along. Her ship had developed the sort of strength as a fighting unit, crewers and material coming together beautifully, that was every captain's goal, and the young Drishalras could at least find some solace in leaning against the metal bulkhead of the ship against which her room rested, and running a hand up against the gray-painted surface to feel the distant feedback thrum of the gravitic impellers.

Do I write Jhayka, and say that I know this? Of course; anything else would be pure dishonsty. A quiver ran through her, and she pushed herself up and back to her desk. But she couldn't bring herself to write the letter then, and so she got up entirely, instead, and moved to settle into one of the more comfortable chairs in her parlour where she could host guests informally, dinging a bell as she walked.

Her batgirl, named Unasla, was a Ghastan Islander with dark green hair and a spring to her step as she left her own quarters in the Captain's suite and came up and over to Drishalras' chair. “Your Highness?”

“Would you rub my shoulders?” Drishalras asked informally, looking up with a smile. Unasla by no means had to, but the girl had once let slip that her great-grandmother had regularly made use of her hands, an admission of skill, and the girl didn't have a problem with sometimes working the knots out of the Captain's shoulders as well, when they were sorely needed gone, as now.

“Of course, Your Highness,” Unasla answered, smiling now, and adding a bit gently as she started with her skilled and strong hands, a working girl's, “Your Highness, I've put in an order with the officers' mess for steamed Irtask-fish this evening, with Orol,” she named a sort of eastern grain, “and spiced red soup.”

“Spiced red soup?” Drishalras closed her eyes. “Dare I ask?”

“I think the chef wants to keep the ingredients a surprise, Your Highness. He proposed that part himself to go with the other dishes.”

“Five months in space and he's still capable of surprising us? Perhaps our success should be ascribed to the cooking staff rather than my person.”

“Nonsense, Your Highness.”

“Well, at least,” she added rather wryly, “It might be worthwhile to stay out here longer if the quality of the food stays constant.”

“Oh, surely, Your Highness, it is good to go home. After all, family is family... I miss mine, certainly.” The girl was, of course, to polite and schooled in appropriate behaviour to ask after Drishalras' directly.

“Family is family,” Drishalras agreed, the truism to a Taloran bringing a smile to her lips, most vague but heartfelt. Perhaps there is a place for Danielle in it all. And.. Perhaps there's even a place.. For me.
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Post by Steve » 2007-07-08 11:01am

Co-written by myself and Marina.

Princely Palace of the Lesser Intuit, Talora Prime
Taloran Star Empire, Taloran Home Universe
9 December 2164 AST
21 J'ina I.Y. 618



It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Dani allowed Fay to lead her into the massive palace that Jhayka's family had owned for millennia, thinking of how it was supposed to have been so different. It was Jhayka who was going to bring her here as her lover. They were going to explore the palace and the land around it together, ride through the grass...
Instead she was here almost unwanted. Jhayka was married to another, and neither could allow themselves to slip for even a moment to avoid destroying everything Jhayka had worked to retain.

The palace itself was more of an administrative structure than a simple residence. It sprawled, and sprawled, and sprawled. There were multiple buildings; the stables were built out of marble and looked like they were a palace in and of themselves, but they held simply rostok and effavsur and perhaps some Yaltila. It was built on a mound, a fairly sizeable one, and Fayza had taken some amusement in explaining that the mound was made of the remnants of palaces of the past which had been built here for the past ten thousand years, until they were buried or crumbled and all that remained was a vast network of catacombs under the buildings. The administrative complex was closely tied to the cluster of buildings that served as the home of the Princely family; and it was through the administrative complex that they entered, some of the Talorans there, farmers mostly, waiting in line to file complaints while an old-style steel-railed electric tram picked others up outside. There was very little evidence of modern technology except for a few sleek hovercars parked outside and a very large transmission tower in the center of the palace complex.

The interior was decorated with rich mosaics of scenes of hunting and women bathing--nudity was there but tasteful--and of historical battles and great events; tapestries hung in some areas without mosaics, with the same themes, while others seemed geneaological, and more than a few were straight out of the writings of the Prophet Eibermon. They walked down a long corridor like this and arrived in the palace proper. Fayza knew where to lead Dani, and the mosaics and tapestries gave way to richly carved dark hardwords, filled with incredibly intricate scenes, and nonetheless seeming warm and welcoming.

"And you've lived here how long?" Dani asked, taking in these sights and trying desperately, oh so desperately, to hide her incredible apprehensions.
"Oh, a year and a half, give or take a few weeks," Fayza answered. "You understand, though, that it took me a long time to even be functional. After you drowned.... I was a wreck, Dani. A complete and utter emotional wreck, and quite a bit suicidal. I blamed myself..."
"You shouldn't have," Dani said.
"No." Fay shook her head angrily. "It was my fault. You didn't want to go to Gilead, and when I pleaded and begged and prodded you into it, you wanted to go to Kalunda. I insisted against it. Had I listened to you either time, none of this would have happened..."
"True." Dani smiled sadly. "But I wouldn't have fallen in love, no matter how much it hurts, Jhayka would still be alone, and only God knows what would have happened on Gilead if I hadn't accidentally tripped everything up."
Fayza sniffled from the tears growing in her eyes, and then she made herself stop and say, "Here, this is where Jhayka is waiting for you. She'll be doing state paperwork as usual... she is the Head of State for the Lesser Intuit, after all..."

Dani entered the room, swallowing hard. Her modest robes of blue and purple and green had been chosen carefully and modestly, to prevent appearances from being deceiving, and as a kind of restraint on them. With all her heart Dani wanted to take Jhayka into her arms and kiss her and make love to her, and she knew she couldn't.
And it hurt.
"Jhayka," she said gently, trying to stop her voice from breaking.

Dead robotic eyes looked up with the head raising. The ears reflexively fell back and flat against the head in a posture of shock, bordering on guardedness. She took in the look of the woman in front of her, and then choked out a sob. Her first words can only remind Danielle of what was important to an alien. For all that Jhayka was mutilated badly, she seemed to think Danielle had the worst of it: "Oh God, Dani, but they had to cut your hair.... I'm so sorry. Oh Dani...." She lurched forward, pushing herself up upon the desk and bracing herself against it, breaths ragged and uneven.

Dani moved cautiously forward. Her hair wasn't much shorter than what she usually liked, just at shoulder blade level compared to how she'd used to wear it at mid to upper back level, but Talorans liked it long, and Jhayka had especially been pleased with the two and a half months of no hair cuts that had made Dani's hair get to the small of her back by the day she drowned in the river.
But for Dani, Jhayka's hair was far from her concern. Her weak, jerky movement, as if she couldn't stand hardly, and her eyes... Dani had seen the stigmatic eye implants before in the video of Jhayka's wedding, but to see them here and now, in person.... to no longer see the gray eyes that once hid so much emotion... Tears rolled down from her eyes as Dani asked, "My God, Jhayka, what... why did you do that?"

"Because I love you," Jhayka whispered back. "And I couldn't stand to see a universe.... without you in it." She reached out a trembling arm toward Danielle, once a paragon of such strength. It still had it, coiled in muscle which would never atrophy, no matter the damage done. But it is clear that she had suffered immensely, as she reached forward to reach out and try and touch Danielle. To regain the physical contact which had been lost. She was overwhelmed with emotion, her long pink hair, at least, as vibrant as ever, and a renewed energy in her body from seeing Dani standing in the flesh before her.

It took Dani a second to trust herself to take Jhayka's trembling hand. Her eyes welled up with tears and she began to sob. "I'm sorry," she cried. She pulled Jhayka close and gave her an embrace, her heart longing for so much more while she considered the horrible pain Jhayka had suffered while she slept. "I'm sorry for this.... I'm sorry...."

"It's all my fault, Danielle. I should have.. I don't know. I regret everything and nothing. But, before God, forgive me, at least, that I made the mistakes I did.. Please, please don't hold them against yourself." She clung to Danielle and was filled with bittersweet sorrow, and yet at the same time relieved to have her around. The hug was like a drink of water in the desert; the embrace was a moment's pure happiness. They were together again. All was worth it because of that. Nothing had been lost. They had survived... And yet they'd never be together again in intimacy, as they had in the hull of a river gunboat at the city of Kalunda. It was bittersweet, indeed.

"If only I'd had the strength... we'd be together... you'd have your eyes...." Dani wept. This hurt, and it hurt worse than she had expected. "Why did this... happen?"

"I can only blame my own sins, love. Only my own sins." She clung all the tighter to Danielle. "Please Danielle, you've come back from the dead to be here with me. Let's just try to find a way that we can both be happy."

Dani nodded, but in her heart she wondered if they could ever be happy now. There seemed no choice for them but to accept that Jhayka was remarried and they could no longer be together. The entire future they had talked about all of those nights in besieged Kalunda, it was gone, and Dani saw no way to regain it.

"Could you help me to sit, dear? The pain at the joint of my artificial leg has been acting up again," Jhayka asked a bit regretfully, hiding the feeling in her that she wanted to stay like this forever, motioning outside of the office and across the hall, where Fayza had settled into one of the numerous drawing rooms of the palace. And, in doing so, her lips brushed against Danielle's cheek. Idly, as though the past year and a half had never happened. Wishfully, even.

Don't kiss her, don't kiss her, Dani thought to herself, feeling the contact on her cheek. "Of course, dear," she replied, helping Jhayka over to the drawing room. A part of her begged for a kiss, just one.... but she wouldn't, she couldn't let herself give into that temptation.

"How was the trip, Fayza?" Jhayka asked solicitously as she walked over, and then settled down onto a couch in the far room, just across from Fayza, with plenty of room for them both. She murmured toward Danielle: "The cybernetic replacements should have prevented this, but I had very severe inflammation from a systemic infection just days after they were emplaced, and I made it worse by being active in that period.. Right up until I collapsed. They may have to cut off more of the finger and the leg and make new attachments further up at some point."

"It was long but managable," Fayza replied. "I brought you back some pictures of Kalunda."
Dani settled beside Jhayka, ignoring the worried look from Fayza. "The city is as beautiful as ever, even if a bit different. There are high-rises along the river west of the palace now, and with the planetary and Commonwealth governments using the city as their seat, the population is already pushing past a million again."

"Oh wonderful," Jhayka answered. "I wasn't sure how they were using my money, or even who was setting things up in the end... For a good human month after the siege I was more or less under medical care... Not nearly as long as you, Danielle...." She put an arm around her lover and leaned against her slightly. "It seems it all came out to be a good deed in the end."

Dani brought a hand around Jhayka's side, trying to avoid putting it on her hip or any other intimate spot. She didn't want to send the wrong signals to Fay, to Jhayka, or even to herself. "How is everyone?" Dani asked. "Where is Illavna?"

"Ilavna's fine. She's studying a special academy programme for high-end psychics. And finishing up some post-doctoral work; she was given her medical circles for her exposure to combat conditions on Gilead, seeing as my trip was sort of a residency for her anyway. We could be there in about... Six hours by maglev. A lot less if we flew. She'd probably like the visit--she thinks very highly of you after your conversion, for which she was quite lauded, which just embarrassed her, the proper girl she is..." Jhayka shifted a bit, comfortable without intimacy, her eyes, as they always would now, seeming to stare into space in front of her. "Priscilla is in the military staff headquarters back in the administrative wing right now, I believe, and will be joining us for dinner as usual. I hear Devenshire forced you out over my kindness to her."

"Well, more like because some terrorists killed some palace guards in an attempt to kidnap or kill me, and they were afraid that I stuck around there'd just be more attacks and it'd cause even more problems with Pranton," Dani replied sheepishly, not wanting to show her own bitterness. "Sara... Sara Proctor that is... was incensed at them. She'd been trying to make me one of her nobles, a Countess I think, before we found out about you and... Drishalras," Dani said, trying not to cringe too much.

"Don't be angry at Drish, Dani. Please. My fault that I agreed to this. She's been wonderful. I told her, point-blank, when the Archduchess Leluno had set up the match, that I'd always love you more than I'd love her. And she accepted that without a murmur of complaint. The poor girl just wanted to be happy herself... And she thought she'd be doing me a good deed, keeping me in one place. She did. I'm not sure if I would have avoided falling apart entirely with her..." She whispered, and added, very softly... "But she's very much second in my heart, and she knows it."

"No, no, I'm not mad at her. I'm happy she kept you going like this," Dani said. Sad and despairing, she added, "Sometimes I think I shouldn't have woken up."

"Don't ever say that!" Jhayka abruptly squeezed herself tightly against Danielle. "Your survival is... The highest fortune. Love isn't all about sex, Danielle. We'll find some way for ourselves, while keeping the faith. It will be very difficult for both of us, but we will find a path..."

"No, that isn't it. I can love you either way... it's just that..." Tears filled Dani's eyes. "I have a baby brother that I'll never see again because of my mother... and now you and I are unhappy and I'm sure Drish is too, and...." She sobbed softly.

"What's happened with your mother?" Jhayka asked, somewhat confused. She couldn't see, for all Dani had explained the problems, what would lead to such a breach. Not with her Danielle, at least... "And look. We'll all compromise, and though it may not be ideal, in the end it's worth a bit of sacrifice so two others may be happy."

"She... she tried to take advantage of my mental state after I woke up, when my memories hadn't been fully restored. She wanted to convince me to become fully straight. And they caught her, and when the telepath who was treating me refused to use her abilities to make me attracted only to men, my mother.... she left me.... didn't even say goodbye, didn't let me say goodbye to my baby brother..."

"How could someone's mother do that..." Jhayka was breathless, trying to comprehend a brutal inanity of humanity that she couldn't come close to. "It's... You didn't really do a single thing to deserve it. It's a minor sin, even by the standards of your faith...." The embrace grew all the more close; Jhayka couldn't help it, and it was clear that if she still had the capacity to sob her body, shuddering faintly, would be. It would be obvious that in the past year and a half, something had shattered the normal iron restraint of the Taloran nobility in Jhayka. She still functioned, but the barriers had been ripped away.

"It's like... we can't catch a break. Nothing works, nothing nice happens..." Dani held onto Jhayka tightly. "What are we going to do Jhayka? What are you and me and Drishalras going to do?"

"I don't know yet. But don't leave, Danielle. Don't leave.... I have a suite prepared for you. Help me. I need off the combat drugs. In combination with the painkillers.. They're especially bad." She sighed heavily, clinging against Danielle for support. "We're safe here, amongst my family... Safe here. Let's stay safe. Just stay here. And we'll see what comes of it."

"For you, yes. It won't be easy, but I'll get you off these drugs." Dani took Jhayka's hand in her's. "And I'll make sure we don't break our promises and Drish won't have a broken heart."

"I was a shell without you...." Jhayka quietly settled against Danielle, the pillar of strength in Ar and Kalunda all used up. She was warm, true, for Talorans were hotter than humans; but she radiated nothing else, and proved, with her thinness, to be slight indeed despite her height when she shifted to end up, now, shamelessly, and needfully, sprawled over Danielle. Her robotic eyes deactivated, she just held Danielle, and didn't make an attempt to do anything else, her silence broken only by the sound of her steady and peaceful breathing.

At that moment Fayza stood, giving Danielle a sorrowful and cautious look, hoping desperately that Dani could resist any temptations here. Dani nodded to her and watched her leave, holding onto Jhayka strongly. It was so odd, so terrifying in fact, to see her strong lover reduced to this. The reserve, the strength, was gone from Jhayka, she seemed as weak as a kitten in Dani's arms. And her wounded, mutilated body wracked by addiction couldn't be helping her wounded heart at all..
Now she would have to help Jhayka heal completely, and at the same time avoid the temptation to resume their relationship. It would be the hardest thing she had ever faced in her life.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Alan Bolte » 2007-07-08 04:35pm

That last line felt unnecessary. I feel like you're summarizing a little too often.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-08 06:43pm

Alan Bolte wrote:That last line felt unnecessary. I feel like you're summarizing a little too often.
*shrugs* It's hard, stylistically, to mesh together the work of two different authors, and it will always be inferior to a story written by one who has total stylistic control. Steve and I are actually pretty unique in the dynamic which lets us combine our work fairly smoothly. But we don't expect it to be anywhere near perfect.

It's something we'll talk about, though.
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Post by Alan Bolte » 2007-07-08 06:53pm

Oh, don't get me wrong, I've been very impressed overall.
Any job worth doing with a laser is worth doing with many, many lasers. -Khrima
There's just no arguing with some people once they've made their minds up about something, and I accept that. That's why I kill them. -Othar
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-08 11:39pm

Palace of the Dhin Intuitan Princes,
Taloran Star Empire, Taloran Home Universe
14 December 2164 AST
26 J'ina I.Y. 618



I will create you the Duchess of Eleutheria, Jhayka had promised in the end. Or, in otherwords, rulership of a collection of freed slaves, fresh freehold settlers, Amazon matriarchists to be raised up in a proper civilized fashion, and the violent bitter-enders of the Clans of Kerensky. And all the preparations were well underway; the terraforming crews were at work, and the colonists were being registered, and the shipping was being mustered.

And once again, just like the Battle of Ar, I find myself handling all the details myself. Priscilla Laurentii was far more prepared for it by now, after more than a year and a half in a general's position. She'd found herself at least a competent administrator, and at least lives were not resting on it now. The problem was simply that it had been unexpected; until a Taloran week prior, Jhayka had been handling the work. Well, she is getting what she desperately needs to get.

The door opened behind her, rather abruptly interrupting her thoughts, and Priscilla turned back to see who it was. She was surprised to be rewarded with the image of Danielle Verdes, and the woman wasn't looking all that good.

"Do you mind if come in, ah, Priscilla?" She was still training herself not to say Arshon.

Priscilla was seated facing a grand picture-window looking out from her fourth story suite toward the gardens below, when Danielle came in, and she rose, turning toward the other woman with a vague smile on the Euro-Arabian features of her face, now framed by her hair grown out long and coloured dark green to fit in with Taloran sensibilities. "Welcome, Danielle. Come in, certainly, you're not bothering me at all... Some wine or cognac, perhaps?" The offer was made as she gestured with one hand toward the other chair by her own, a hardwood table set between the two of them, and the view outside a fairly pleasant one. They were in the middle of summer, after all, and it was fairly nice outside.

"I could probably use it," Danielle admitted. She was dressed in modest Taloran-style robes, as she had been since arriving, and the bags under her eyes and the expression on her face were all that needed to be seen for someone to understand how worn she was. She sat down in a fashion indicating further lack of sleep. "But not too much. I'm trying to stay off of alcohol."

Priscilla nodded and poured them out both a shot of cognac, looking slightly wry as she filled the small glasses and set them down on the table between them before sitting again, herself. "You must be having it very hard right now, to put it mildly. How bad has it been for her? I haven't really seen her in the past few days and I know her cousin Ghisal is taking care of the affairs of the principality."

"She's a wreck," Dani lamented, and tasted the vintage, which was... Certainly of considerable expense. Dani had gotten used to that. "Only her pride and upbringing keep her from begging for a dose, I'm sure of it. She never does, but you can tell... She can barely move at times, it's hard to get her to eat or drink, she has nightmares, she wakes me up every night screaming and crying..." Heading off any remarks at the pass, Dani said, "I've taken the room next to her so I can be closeby, but I've used the chair in her bedchamber more than the bed in my room."

"I'm told that it can take as long as thirty days for the symptoms to stop entirely, though after repeated addiction cycles they can usually kick it faster than the first time, but it's also harder during the withdrawal cycle, even if it's shorter. The whole thing is a pretty hidden problem in Taloran society, frankly; they're very, very big on dealing with these things entirely on their own willpower, since they don't actually have an addiction theory in all of Taloran medicine," Priscilla explained after a moment, sipping her cognac.

"It's rejected by the nobility, at least, as absolving people of personal responsibility. But there is a drug that can dampen some of the effects--it's highly effective against lesser combat drugs, but the RY-68 she uses is of the highest order; it can keep you awake and alert with maximized response time and acuity and high adrenaline levels for a week on end. I have the anti-dote for it in divisional headquarters in a small supply. But don't expect a miracle cure. And you probably shouldn't tell her it's being used--she's immensely stubborn about these things. I suggest putting it in her painkillers. I asked the Surgeon General of the Principality about that and he was quite certain it wouldn't be a problem."

Dani nodded. "I can try it. Just have to make sure she doesn't catch me. You know how Jhayka is."

"Very good, Danielle. I think that, well, you ,at least, she'd forgive for it, even if she wouldn't forgive anyone else." Priscilla smiled for a moment, and then, very quietly, asked... "Will you tell me about Devenshire is like now?"

Dani was glad for the chance to change the subject to something else, to get her mind off the harrowing effort. "Well, Illustrious is nice, it always is... the planet Devenshire itself I didn't see much of unfortunately..."
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-16 02:20am

Palace of the Dhin Intuitan Princes,
Talora Prime.
28 December 2164 AST
40 J'ina I.Y. 618



It had been nineteen days. Nineteen days since Danielle had arrived, and more or less at once been immediately plunged into the no small task of dealing with the legacy of the drugs which had allowed Jhayka to coolly direct the breakout from Ar and massacre the Normans herself; to retain control of every aspect of the siege, sleeping three-fourths of the time for only three or four hours each night, and never for longer than seven once in the whole siege; and to frequently go without entirely to direct each aspect of operations with a cool precision that she'd retained even while in the grips of fever and serious injury while leading the armies on their march of revenge back to the gates of Ar. Nineteen days of her being a broken shell. No easy experience for a healthy relationship, for the shattered remnants of one that they had, it must be especially difficult. This night had been different, however. For some reason or another Jhayka had drifted off to sleep and slept peacefully through the night, and long beyond, leaving Dani to slump in her recliner and drift off, herself, for quite some time. It had been about fourteen human hours since Jhayka had gone to sleep...

...When she awoke slowly, and pushing herself out of bed, pulled a robe over her modest-but-not-quite nightclothes and walked delicately to the bathroom, not wanting to wake Dani up. Again and again she drank, until she must have consumed a whole liter. Her mind a bit fuzzy, she needed a bath, and had a bit of a headache; the water had not been as satisfying as it could have been. But there was nothing else. She stepped out of the bathroom again, and saw Dani there sleeping. And she remembered when they had escaped from Ar. I slept in the chair, then, and watched over you. It wasn't spoken. She reached for her cane, fine silvered pommel resting against her hand, and walked over to the window with its aide. The pain was in the joints of flesh and metal again; but she ignored it for the moment. Opening the curtains a crack to let in some light--it was now well into the day--she buzzed the kitchen staff. "Have some steamed gheri on grilled ulost-bread," she asked for a sourdough, "brought up. Hmm. Use the clam sauce." Some simple creatures were universal without much variation in the universe; though Talora Prime had nautiloids in plenty and Jhayka fancied one for dinner at that moment. Gheri for breakfast would be fine. "And make it two plates..." Her ears bent back as she heard Danielle stirring.

Over the past couple of weeks, nearly three now, Danielle had weathered the storm of Jhayka's withdrawal with a reserve that surprised even her. It had been so painful to see Jhayka gripped in her afflictions, unable to eat very much and constantly wracked by nightmares and all of the other psychological and physical effects of quitting the drugs cold turkey. She had, thankfully, been able to hide the use of the counter-drugs from Jhayka, mixing it with her drinks and painkillers very easily.
Her eyes opened and Dani grimaced, her back a little stiff from the recliner. She looked over to see Jhayka at the window, allowing light in the room. "Unnnhhh... Jhayka? Why didn't you wake me when you got up?" Dani fully expected to find that Jhayka had been up for hours, trying to force herself to do something, as she had been the prior few days, getting tired, as expected, of being dormant.

"I just got up, Dani," Jhayka answered after a moment. "I'm feeling a lot better now. I was thirsty, that's all, and now rather hungry, so I'm having some food sent up. I have a headache. And I feel like I could stay in a steam-bath for a year. And there's an edge to me right now like I could use to go back to sleep even though I've been there for better than half a day's cycle already. But, I don't need the drugs anymore. That's.... Gone. And thank you. Because now you've stood by me just like I stood by you that night after we blasted our way out of Ar." She was quiet after that, remembering.

"It was the least I could do," Dani said humbly. She had already been told that when the addiction broke it would be very sudden, the body just ceasing its dependency, but it still seemed strange, almost insane, that Jhayka had recovered so quickly. "What did you order for breakfast?" Even as she said those words, she realized there were far more important things to discuss, and that their situation was not resolved yet, and likely wouldn't be until Drishalras got home.

"Gheri," Jhayka answered. "I like it, among other things, but I think we had it on the train once. The first evening. Not the same dish, however. But it's a flightless bird, vaguely related to the effavsur, from Midela Colenta originally. The bread is sort of a thick sourdough toast by human standards, and the sauce is made with the juice of bivalve shellfish. We think of it as a breakfast food..." She turned, facing Danielle, and smiled, a clever and secretive look under those artificial eyes. "It's a marvelous feeling when you're off those drugs. They suppress natural adrenaline when their artificial ones. At some point the hormonal system realizes the lack, and picks it up again. That's what the, ah, what my restlessness was because of." She shook her head a moment, ears falling. "I have done this three times before. But this time was the worst. I'd never been in sustained combat for so long before, with doses that high."

The idea of it being commonplace for Talorans to get addicted to combat drugs was one of those things that made them so alien to Dani, and to anyone raised in her fashion. "Hopefully, this will be the last time you have to do this," she said in a hushed tone. "But it's good to have you back on your feet."

"Thank you. I hope so, too." The door opened and a young serving girl--she looked from her appearance and colouring like a relative of Ilavna's--came in with a tray which she set up next to a table, head lowered as she transferred to the dishes to it, and then rose, and bowed. "Your Highness, Your Grace," she offered. "Your meals are here."

"Thank you, dear," Jhayka replied. "You can tell the kitchen staff that I'll be taking the evening meal with the family."

"Of course, Your Highness." She bowed again, and backed out of the room with her head bowed. It was clear that Jhayka was so familiar with the etiquette of such an exchange that she fell back into it in a heartbeat.

"Most of my estate servants are Amazon girls that were too young to join either side in the war, and they nearly kiss the floor when I'm around," Dani said. "I... I don't know if I can get used to people acting subservient to me."

"The problem is getting used to it to fast, if you're not born into it. If you're uncomfortable, good. You have to remember that... These people are your responsibility. Always your responsibility. That's the same reason I use combat drugs. That we all do. We have a responsibility to be our best, even at a price to ourselves. We don't really understand why you don't do things like this... Of course, your combat is more restrained than what we're used to. Have been, since the great communitarian uprising." She started over to the table, flashing a slight smile. "But shall we eat while we talk, at least?"

"Gladly." Dani was, admittedly, rather hungry; she had slept nearly as long as Jhayka, having gotten little sleep the past weeks while looking out for Jhayka. She took her seat and began picking at the plate, enjoying the taste of the first bite of the succulent steamed poultry with bread and clam sauce. She finished swallowing before asking, "I'd been wondering if you wanted to visit Illavna sometime after you finished recovering."

"You want to see her, I take it?" Jhayka smiled. "She will be rather pleased, I am sure. And glad that I'm doing better, at any rate, though I am rather glad of that myself." Her ears showed her attentiveness, high as they had not been in some time. "Yes, we'll see her. I suppose I should also tender an invitation to the Archduchess Leluno at some point to come over and have dinner with the family. I've been unkind to her of late over the matter with Drishalras, and, well, she could have made this a lot harder on all of us." Jhayka ate for a moment, and then continued. "You see, the Princess Imperial Sikala, the reigning Empress' mother, was killed in a jump malfunction while overseeing the response to a fairly minor border conflict about two decades ago. Only daughter of the Empress Intalasha the Third, though she'd had three sons. And of Sikala's children, she'd had two sons.. And the youngest child was the Empress. Saverana, the second to bear that name. She's the youngest Empress we've had in quite some time, and Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno of the Lelolan branch, has been like her older sister.. Well, since she could talk. The Imperial position is a very demanding and lonely one, and Saverana is neither married nor particularly prepared for it. So she confides in Leluno. Their closeness is such that it is commonly believed that they're lovers, though I know for a fact that they're not. Jhastimia and I are old friends from the academy--she was in her senior year when I was just entering--and several times now she has, I suppose, prevented me from shooting myself in the foot. You have much to thank her for in that regard, regardless of Drishalras."

"I would like the chance to thank her for not making this even harder. She was very candid with me when we approached Talora Prime. And rather protective of you." Dani smiled slightly. "I'd be happy to meet her in person."

"Good. Perhaps in a week, two at the most, then. That will give us time to visit Ilavna in a few days.. And then, after that, I'd like to take you to Ytalla," she finished. The look on her face was a bit pained, that she couldn't express herself with her eyes. "You'll love it. Drishalras' father gave us a large estate there as a wedding gift. I want to show it to you because I want..." She couldn't go on. It was to painful to enunciate what she felt inside herself, the dreadful prospect. "I want you to have your honeymoon there like I did, at least. Drishalras agreed... You'd be welcome to use it for as long as you wished."

Saying the words had left her exhausted, and she settled back, the last bits of her food abandoned for the moment.

Dani couldn't bring herself to take the bit she'd already brought almost to her mouth when she heard Jhayka say those words. She put the utensil down on the plate and looked at Jhayka for a few moments. She didn't know what to say at that, and it just seemed to twist the knife in her heart. "Thank you," she finally managed. "I suppose... if I ever get married.... I'll take you up on that offer. Provided whomever I marry agrees. Provided I ever get married, maybe."

"I didn't want to say that, you know. There's a part of me that wants to run off with you tomorrow. Avoid the scandal simply by disappearing. Duty compels, however; that isn't an option and we both know it. Stay for a long while here, at least. You have to meet Drish, and she should be home in thirty-six or thirty-seven days."

"I will." Dani looked down at the partially-finished meal. Both had clearly lost their appetites due to the turn the conversation had taken. But both knew it would eventually come to this, and that temptation would have to be fiercely resisted. "I don't know if I can ever find my own Drishalras, but I cannot wait to meet her. I don't even know if she replied to the letter I wrote on my way here."

"You can probably ask someone about that, I'm sure someone's been keeping track of our personal correspondence..." Jhayka was forcing herself to eat, then, and it showed; she was aware that she needed it, and that was about it. "Like you said when you first arrived, we can't ever catch a break. But maybe now we'll finally have a chance."

"It would be nice." Seeing Jhayka eat, Dani forced herself to take another bite. She liked the taste, but she was too busy holding back tears to enjoy it. She was willing to live a celibate romance with Jhayka, content in the memories of their nights together in besieged Kalunda, but here she could barely dare kiss her as she so wanted to do, she could do nothing to make Jhayka seem unfaithful.

"We've got each other. We can just stay here, I imagine, for quite some time. Or perhaps I'll accompany you back to Gilead. I need to let Sarina beat me up once, at least," she remarked with a trace of bitterness, adding, "I really regret getting Amber killed, you know. But the foreigners treated Kalunda as scarcely better than the powers they were fighting against. I knew they would, in general. The Kalundans had to prove themselves before the stage of the multiverse. Julio realized it. Amber realized it. And Amber paid the price for it. But it was my order, my recommendation. And her sister has the right to hate me forever for it."

"They were so close..." Dani realized something at that moment, and added, "Did you know she's had a daughter? There's a little Amber d'Kellius running around now. I've heard her other mother, genetically, is one of my old gunboat officers, Helen Carver."

"I didn't know that," Jhayka confessed. "They're fortunate. Uhm." So sleek, so graceful, but emotionally dead without her eyes, though the subtlety of her ears now perhaps opened up a bit of her inner heart to Danielle and revealed she'd just had a curious, tracing, passing thought. "Wouldn't you celibacy at least allow you to reconcile with your parents?" It was like she was trying to find some way to fish a positive out of this, and she knew she'd probably fail. "I feel tremendously horrible that I've had a hand in sundering you from your mother. To us... One respects one's mother, always, and this kind of... Rejection.... Is the most painful thing imaginable."

Dani smiled at that and Jhayka's selfless thought, but it was a completely sad smile. "Unless you want me to renounce the Farzian Church, go through Confirmation as a Catholic, and marry a Catholic as severe as my mother who will always be suspicious of me and insist I be a good housewife, it won't work."

"That is quite hard to imagine. Sometimes the vagarities of human religions drive me to distraction.... Most of them are very impractical," she concluded, finishing a last bite of food very slowly and reluctantly. In some ways it was like she had come out of a fever. "As for the other matters at hand... Well, we really need Drishalras here. Until then we should just try to relax. As we've not gotten a chance to do much of since the siege. Since before it." A dry laugh was allowed. "And to think that was supposed to be my great long sabbatical in which to recover."

"Well, you were there for a reason, as was I. I suppose despite our situation, and all that's happened, we've actually had a good outcome." Dani took another bite to match Jhayka's. "Fayza told me you made her laugh when talking about how we met."

"It'll always be a fond memory," Jhayka replied agreeably. "I believe I have a promise to keep to you, first and foremost, which is one that I certainly can, and owe every obligation to you. Anyway, I'll be much more my old self while doing it, because for all my weaknesses at current, I'm still just as skilled as ever a-rostock, so... Tomorrow morning, we'll start your lessons?" The look on her face seemed even... hopeful.

Dani smiled back. "It'll be interesting to see how rostock compare to horses. I have one, you know. A riding horse, a mare named Esther. Sara Proctor gave her to me." After taking another small bite and swallowing it with just a second of chewing, Dani added, "I had to rent a stable from one of the nobles living around Valeria, Countess.... Drusahla? Drusihla?"

"You brought the horse with you? I must see her, then," Jhayka replied. "And I think you're talking about Drusahila Livorntai, the Countess of Kilangras. Just north of the capitol district, yes?" Perhaps the most impressive thing about the nobility is that they could usually remember each other's names in dozens and dozens if not hundreds or thousands of cases, as well as the attention paid to geneaology. Though it could get more than a bit stuffy at times.

"Yes. She has the only stable of horses near enough to here and had a spot open for Esther, so I asked kindly and offered her a generous renting fee. She refused it, actually, when she found out who I was." Dani took one of the last handful of bites she had left.

"Yes. You have to get used to the nobility. We accept gifts, not commissions or payment," Jhayka explained with a smile. "Our economic matters are always quite informal amongst ourselves. And.. There's something strangely heartwarming about referring to you as a peer. I am glad for that at least."

While Jhayka made her statement Dani finished her plate, wiping her mouth softly with the napkin to get a bit of sauce that dribbled onto her lip. "That was wonderful," she said. "Your cooking staff needs a raise."

"I will distribute a bonus all around if you wish...." She smiled vaguely, ears dipping forward. "But, if you'd rather, I could also introduce you to them--for really they lack nothing--and you can tell them in person. They shall like that. And to see me moving around again, I think." It had been past time for her to resume her activities fully, walking stick or not.

"Why, sure.. I can tell you want to get out of here anyway." Dani forced herself to smile. "We've talked enough for now."
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-07-17 03:45am

The Blue Palace,
Valeria, Talora Prime.
31 December 2164 AST
43 J'ina I.Y. 618



The Baron Jhistam of Hurracari was an interesting fellow indeed, manipulating events from his long-held perch in the elderly Blue Palace, home of the Foreign Ministry that he led. He was scarcely more than five and a half feet and green haired with cool amber eyes, an elder diplomat who had served the Empress' grandmother for quite some time in the same capacity, and Saverana had not really made her own appointments, being young and somewhat in awe of Intalasha III. He was looking intently at the man across from him whom he entertained, as he spoke: Travis Wilcock, the ambassador from the United Federation of Planets (which had been sending out quite a lot in its bid to gain influence among potential allies against the ADN in the broader multiverse) had suffered a lot in the adaptation to a world, a culture, an Empire that was difficult to understand from his Alpha Quadrant home and perspective.

He had done his best, though, being a party man for his whole life, just like his father before him. And the Taloran Star Empire, despite many frankly barbaric customs—which were largely excusable since they were aliens, at least--was a potential ally against a far closer and more serious threat. There had been rumours of the Alliance and the Empire moving closer together, which would have been a very grave matter indeed.

Now, however, the Baron of Hurracari seemed to suggest that it was not the case, and over a series of meetings had made his points strongly. It was a point he was reiterating now. “We are not approaching any sort of alliance with the Alliance, Ambassador, but rather trying to assuage their fears. You must understand that from our position the Alliance presents the largest challenge that the Empire has ever known. It will preferably be a peaceful one, but who can say?

“So, certainly our intention is to try and arrange affairs peaceably with the Alliance, but we must also make preparations should that not be the case. Since any military arrangements with them currently would be, ah, inadvisable at best, as they would see themselves as the dominant power in such an arrangement, we must find ways to contain them as an opponent. I assure you, Ambassador, that the Taloran Star Empire will never take its marching orders from Washington. We are just as much concered with their overweening arrogance as you are.”

And the council respects that so much they simply let the passport issue drop, Travis thought to himself, and it was an understandable thought, because it had been a very weird one. But the Federation was feeling increasingly pressed by the outside situation, and internal matters were not good, either.

“Lord Jhistam, suffice to say that the United Federation of Planets largely shares your concerns. We are, however, worried about the show of interest in a comprehensive arrangement with the Alliance that you have made. And I understand I was invited here today to specifically discuss that, rather than our own efforts to bring our nations and peoples closer together independent of the subject of the Alliance.”

“You're very correct. The issue is a credible one, though, again, I assure you that we are not working toward the Alliance in any way that regards military arrangements, nor subordinates us to Alliance interests. We are, in fact, vigorously defending our sovereignty on every matter from the passport affair to our tariffs on food imports and beyond. We are simply trying to regularize affairs between two equal powers in a peaceful fashion.”

“I will certainly convey that message strongly to my superiours,” Travis answered. He was sipping hot dhpou as he spoke, having acquired a taste for the drink—which to a human seemed rather like a very strong and spicy Jamaican ginger ale being served as hot as coffee. “but it seems that you had a more concrete matter to discuss.”

“Yes. It's rather straightforward. We are also interested in pursuing relations with the United Federation of Planets more closely... Potentially commercial ones, where our firms see many prospects in your territories for trade.”

“You understand our laws about corporate involvement are quite strict.”

“Indeed. To aide our companies in understanding how to operate in your system, we've therefore decided to extend a full Ambassadorship to the United Federation of Planets, and submit a proposal—which I'll have sent to your office—for a sizeable embassy to handle a research staff, a cultural library, and possibly an exchange university, along with extensive resources for encouraging learning of the High Taloran language, among other matters of interest both for your citizens and our's about each other, with some provision for Talorans to study and live on earth while still having a place at which they can retire for the comfort of being with their own.”

Travis settled down his glass of dhpou, still-young face looking across with brown eyes widened in surprise. “This is an extremely generous and grand step on the part of your people. I'm frankly amazed to hear of it... If your goal was to dispell our fears, I think this will certainly succeed, Lord Jhistam.”

“Splendid.” What Lord Jhistam did not mention was that the whole thing was a ploy from the government to press the Alliance to come around to favourable terms. The Taloran Star Empire thought rather lowly of the UFP, though of course they had no problems with watching the great corporate combines make money off doing business with their economy. It might yield some gains there, as well as in the form of pressuring the Alliance in the proper direction by threatening a similiar initiative with one of their largest existing diplomatic rivals...
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Post by Coalition » 2007-07-17 01:00pm

I wonder how the opinion will change as the industrial representatives get a better feel for the Federation economy?

Nice political maneuvering there. Please keep going.

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Post by fgalkin » 2007-07-17 02:23pm

Coalition wrote:I wonder how the opinion will change as the industrial representatives get a better feel for the Federation economy?

Nice political maneuvering there. Please keep going.
I don't think it will matter much, given it was a ploy by the Talorans to scare the ADN, and the fact that in two years, the Federation will cease to exist.

Have a very nice day.
-fgalkin

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Post by Steve » 2007-07-19 07:11am

First part co-written with Marina, last entirely by me.

Palace of the Dhin Inuitan Princes,
Valeria, Talora Prime.
8 January 2165 AST.
51 J'ina I.Y. 618.


Jhastimia Rulandh invariably spent the rest-day of the five day Taloran week with the Empress. So it was only the day after that she was available for the invitation that Jhayka had extended, and after her work of the day, she had gone riding with Danielle--who after eleven days of practice, and with her prior experience a-horse--was just beginning to get the hang of things enough for them to ride freely across flat ground on the snorting, powerful rostok that looked for all like giant boars, down to the horns. Jhayka, as promised, was mostly her old self when she was a-rostok, and it had been an exceedingly pleasant day. Then she'd confided to Danielle what was coming next, and the two of them, of course, had to go get ready for the Archduchess, which meant all of their finest clothes, even though her visit was strictly informal. Jhayka had insisted--and Dani had laughing obliged--to reserve the services of a hair restoration specialist who had fused lengths of artificial hair made to match to human type against the tips of her own, so that they effectively formed one continuous strand, in a laborious process which had taken up the whole of the last week's thirdday, and then had it all coloured to her choice. It could only serve to heighten Jhayka's desire for her; but Jhayka controlled herself as befitting one of her stature, and nothing more came of it.

Now, of Taloran meal custom, after the introductions, the bulk of the meal is normally consumed in comparative silence, and talk on light matters only. And so it was mostly a conversation on how certain festivals and gala balls had gone, with Jhayka and Jhastimia, the hostess and the ranking guest, sitting together at the head of the table, Priscilla to the left, Dani to the right, Fayza just down from Dani and then packed on both sides a sundry list of Jhayka's cousins and uncles and aunts who were mostly countesses, the younger cousins on Fayza's side below her; the older aunts and uncles on the left after Priscilla, since the left, rather than the right, was the favoured side for Talorans. It was only when dessert was served that it was normal for conversation to begin, and in the same way, Taloran meals were eaten quickly--and this was, of shellfish, as superb as all the others--and then people lounged their way over the desert, which was also the point when the sweet-wines, really liquers since they were made without grapes, there obviously being none on Talora Prime, were brought out.

Beyond that, afterwards there was also a reception, in which the guests could mingle and indulge in some harder liquors, stretching the evening meal on straight into the night if it was started a bit later than customary, as had been the case here. Jhastimia, for her part, was utterly striking in the green-red-and-blue checkerboard pattern of her dress and the pink sash crossing it, lavender hair pulled back and done up with a series of sticks, with plenty of it left to hang down at random crazy angles, accentuating neatly her eyes, and leaving her light blue eyes free to sweep the table. And, interesting, her attention turned more to Danielle and Fayza than to Jhayka as the conversation in the dinner began. But then, something was on her mind. "Ladies, have you been following the news from the Alliance lately? I ask, because there's been growing publicity there over an issue which has been considered quite trivial here, and I'm trying to figure out why it's been seized as a matter of popularity."

"What do you mean by that?" Fayza asked, allowing Dani to sip a little from her glass figuring her friend needed a chance to unwind. She was dressed in a colorful Taloran dress of blue and greed and bright yellow, her hair done up in a pony-tail. Dani hadn't yet accomodated herself to wearing the gaudy colorful Taloran dresses and took up something more like a robe of purple and blue, her artificially-lengthened hair flowing down freely to her posterior with tinges of chestnut red around the black.

"Well, the Alliance government wants us to implement a system of passports," Jhastimia answered. "Which we don't have any precedent for whatsoever. Something about security measures and so on. The negotiations have been going on for quite some time now, more than half a human year I believe, but without much substance or impetuous behind them, because other issues are involved and also because nobody really wishes to implement additional procedures on our part. But there seems to be increasing pressure on the Alliance government to get a resolution favourable to their stance." Across the table the two Alliance women could see that Priscilla, who was following the issue, and found it incredibly naive and obstinate of the Talorans, was trying not to laugh, and managed to at least succeed ably at that. For everyone else at the table, the matter seemed largely irrelevant though Jhayka leaned in and added: "You know the Convocate will never support it."
"Please, Jhayka, I want to hear their answers.." Jhastimia replied, a bit chastising, though gently.

"Well, uh.... everyone has passports. It's been around before the Alliance, for centuries really," Dani replied. "It's mostly just another form of ID like driver's licenses and social security, just that you use it for traveling between different countries."
"In fact, you used to need them for traveling between countries within the Alliance," Fay added. "It was only about ten or so years ago that President Mamatmas got a law through the Council allowing people to use other IDs like birth certificates and driver's licenses or, best for us, military IDs." She looked between Jhastimia and Jhayka. "I mean, it's not too big of a deal for most people, just another bit of red tape at most. The biggest thing about them that I know is that if you're on trial and out of jail on bail for it, local authorities can temporarily hold your passport to prevent you from fleeing the jurisdiction."

"Countries in the Alliance issue driver's licenses?" Jhayka leaned over the table again, and even Jhastimia allowed herself to be somewhat perplexed. The rest of the conversation sort of quieted down. Again, Priscilla was utterly out of the conversation thanks to her stalemated war to keep herself from laughing. "I thought I was an expert on humans and I didn't realize you were, well, that statist."

Dani looked at Jhastimia and Jhayka with an expression of utter bewilderment, while Fayza, knowing just a bit more about Talorans, seemed more concerned about the attention, looking around and seeing the growing interest in their conversation. "Well, yeah. You get them when you come of age and take tests to prove that you can, in fact, drive a motor vehicle. Don't you have them too?"

Jhastimia leaned back, clearing away from Jhayka, ears bent down forward as she thought. "You do realize our social services simply.. Don't work like your's? And we don't even have licensing requirements as such, it's just that the teamster's guilds won't let anyone on the roads they haven't certified, except farm equipment in rural areas."

Dani stared blankly at them. "You... you mean your local governments don't give driver's licenses? You have a union do it?" she asked, still bewildered.

"Well, most people don't own private vehicles other than farm equipment unless they're... Of a refined class which can afford a driver from the teamster's guild," Jhastimia explained, with a growing sense that the level of incomprehension on the issue was far greater than even she had expected. "Vehicles large enough for a whole family are very expensive, after all, I think you'd call them buses."

"Well, how do people get around, then?", Dani asked. "I know your cities go up and down instead of sprawling out, but certainly you have people who move goods from the countryside into the city, or people in the city who vacation in the countryside? How do private people who aren't upper class get around?"

Jhayka decided to intervene, as Jhastimia was not used to explaining things: "Well, there's lots of transportation. The farmers come by electric trams usually when they want to have an audience with me. They'll ride farm equipment into town and take a train from there, or hitch a ride with some friends. There's little buses which run on routes out in the countryside where they'll deviate to go on a call and pick people up like that. The big maglev lines have rural stops with slow trains to service them, and the friction-rail freight lines run short distance services like that, too. A family outing is a very big affair, and so you'd have to plan it in advance anyway.... And most rural people stay predominantly in their villages. When someone goes off to school or so on, they're gone for quite some time. After all, they have the datalink services planet-wide...."

"So... you don't have cars?" Dani shook her head. "Back home, everyone wants to have a car. It's just something you have, unless you're too young, old, or you're entirely urban, where it's too expensive to pay for parking. One of the happiest moments in my life was when my Dad gave me his old GMC pickup when I turned eighteen and got my operator's license."
"It's considered very American, actually," Fay explained. "There are nations in the Alliance much like your's, or at least where car use is far less prevalent and trains and buses are more widely used. But Americans have been major car buffs ever since the automobile was first invented. I mean, I cried when my mom bought me a used Cadillac when I turned seventeen." Fay sipped at her drink, and it had made her inebriated enough to blush and add, "I have a lot of good memories about that car...."

"Well, we have rostok," Jhastimia finally answered, looking a bit perturbed. "Though I suppose this very clearly demonstrates the issues at hand for our two peoples, does it not? Apparently this is considered a serious matter back in the Alliance; here, the government does not even collect the information which would make the issuing of passports possible."

"It's not just a big matter for the Alliance, Your Serene Grace," Dani added, not quite believing the turn the conversation had taken. "Everybody issues passports. It's just expected that when you travel to another nation you bring a passport to be allowed entry."

Priscilla finally chuckled, and all eyes turned to the Devenshiran mercenary, even Jhayka's nonexistent set. "She's right. The only reason the CON-5 powers haven't been enforcing this measure, Your Serene Grace, Your Highness, is because of racism. They desire strong trade ties, and so they've chosen to simply ignore it because they imagine they can fully monitor the small number of those of the Taloran species within their worlds, and have yet to encounter more than one or two humans from your territories at the most. I imagine the same is true most elsewhere. That this scandal has developed first with the Alliance is proof of their good intentions, not ill ones; they are giving your people the benefit of the doubt by treating them like everyone else."

The two Taloran magnates exchanged looks with each other before going back to their dessert, not initially answering, though Jhastimia--using the Devenshiran title quite casually--at last posed the question to the two other human nobles. "Is the Grand Duchess correct?"

"I can't speak for the CON-5 nations," Dani replied, "but from what President Dale has been like in his career? Yes, I'm sure he's worried about any problems your people might have on this issue and he's trying to solve it before it gets bad. Of course...." She smiled at Jhayka, remembering a note from one of their very first conversations on Gilead. "I'm a navy girl, so maybe I'm biased."

Jhayka gave a little soft laugh, ducking her head a bit at that, and Jhastimia then seemed more interested in the interplay between the two than in the question she had originally posed. The topic, at least, fell off after that--it seemed it had reached the limit of useful information exchanged--and so everyone proceeded ahead to finish their desserts, though for dessert conversation it was unusually muted, everyone digesting the ramifications of what it meant. Jhayka waited until everyone had finished their desserts, and then tinged with one of what the humans had gleefully ridiculed as The Taloran Spork against her table, which, bluntly enough, it really was. Instead of a proper fork; they had a skewer. They had chinese like spoons for soup, and for all other spoon and fork tasks, the ubiqtuitous object which in English could only be called a spork. With a very sharp knife that was used both for cutting and, reversed, spreading, the Taloran cutlery was equally something to get used to. But it made a very pleasant sound against the side of a crystal goblet... "You may take your drinks and head to the reception room now if you wish," she explained. Gradually everyone got up from the table; Jhastimia waited until after Dani had, and then followed her to the elegantly appointed room just over, chendalier on the ceiling and tapestries all around with a hard wood floor for dances, though that was not the purpose tonight.

Fayza headed off into the room, having attended enough family functions and lived in the palace enough to be an acquaitance with some of Jhayka's younger relatives. Dani remained near the door, letting Jhayka remain alone for a moment before she noticed that Jhastimia had followed her directly. "Your Serene Grace?"

Jhastimia gestured toward a darker hallway leading out of the grand hall. "If you're follow me, Danielle?" It was clear from that, that she wished to speak quite informally, and her voice was little above a whisper. As everyone settled down, it was the perfect time to slip out without it really being noticed that they'd gone together.

Wondering what the Archduchess was doing, Dani allowed her curiosity to lead her into the dark hallway, where they could be alone and mostly unnoticed. She suspected she was about to be interrogated on Jhayka's condition, or perhaps more carefully, onto if she had preserved Jhayka's marriage oath to Drishalras. "Yes, Your Serene Grace?" Dani said the words carefully, hiding her slight irritation on having to keep repeating the title.

"We're acquaintances of similar station, no need to be formal," Jhastimia allowed at last. "Especially when we have to discuss a matter as important as the one I'm about to bring before you."

"Go ahead then, Jhastimia," Dani replied, relieved to be addressing someone by name again.

"You're in love with her, and she won't be happy without you." The ears were bent forward, and that spoke of embarrassment and shame at that angle and it was clearly, and surprisingly, initially apologetic. "I've wronged you both quite grievously, and Drishalras of the Coasts besides. The oath cannot be broken. That would destroy Jhayka. But...." Light blues eyes caught Danielle's insistently. "There is a way. It will require the Princess of the Coasts' concurrence... And I must immediately ask you, before I proceed, not to speak any of this to Jhayka until Drishalras of the Coasts returns and I have spoken to her in person. Let her, if she assents, bring it up."

There was a surge of hope in Dani's heart, even if she had no idea on what the Archduchess had planned. She nodded stiffly. "I promise, I won't tell Jhayka."

"Good. You'll need Drishalras of the Coasts' consent for this, since, of course, divorce is entirely illegal, and the sacred contract was for all eternity." Jhastimia braced herself, ears flicking up, not sure of the reaction she'd get out of Danielle. "I think that, if the Princess of the Coasts concurs--and remember that this is legal in our faith but is extremely rare, especially for women who desire each other, especially, but again there is nothing against it and indeed it is fully sanctioned--that you should be married to Jhayka as her second wife."

There was an uncomfortable pause that lasted several seconds. Finally Dani gave a reaction, blinking and delicately remarking, "I'm... I mean, I know I've done... well... Jhastimia, I'm not that kinky."

The disciplined descendent of Valera could not help it. She flushed slightly her sickly green, and frankly held her hands up in a warding gesture. "Ahh, Danielle, forgive me. I don't mean for... Well, I don't mean for you and Jhayka and the Pr... Drishalras," even her formality was abandoned in a moment like that, "well, for all of you to be in the same bed together sleeping with each other and have sex together, no, not at all, that would be just as sinful as your having an affair with Jhayka. You and Drishalras would be having affairs with each other then. It's more that, well, Jhayka has both of you. We don't allow marriages in common. But the head of a household can contract several specific marriages to different people, each, well, independent of the other. And that's what I'm proposing. Drishalras has to agree to it, however, or else it can't be legally done."

"I see." Dani sighed, hope meshing with fear very strongly. This was everything she could want, the future she desired being allowed for the most part... "Well, if you put it like that.... I'll be forever indebted to you if it happens, but I... I don't want to hurt Drish with it, that wouldn't be fair..."

"If she's satisfied with the arrangements that the two of you can come up with, she'll be happy, and she'll consent," Jhastimia answered rather simply. "There's nothing more, or less, to it. She'll be more hurt by having Jhayka pining over you forever, anyway. Your attitude is a good one, though. She wouldn't deserve to be pushed to the side. Nor would her family approve. She's going to have to be a willing participant in this whole process or else it won't happen from the start, and, well, that is really between you and Drishalras." She smiled vaguely. "I see you're already using Jhayka's nickname for her, which I imagine to be a good enough start."

"I've been where she is now, Jhastimia. I wouldn't wish this heartbreak on anyone, and I'll do everything I can to make it easy for her," Dani said intently.

"Then start thinking in terms of what's possible for the three of you. And that includes being realistic about the sharing of the marriage bed." Jhastimia seemed amused with herself as she continued: "Or, in otherwords, if you're lucky, you'll get your pink-haired beauty three days out of the week." Her next comment was more serious, however. "Do try to have your mansion back on Gilead prepared and everything. The Convocate can't stop this if Drishalras consents; you need only find a Priestess who is willing to perform the ceremony, and then that is that. Your rank is recognized, effectively, by the treaty by which we recognized Sara-Marie as the queen of Gilead. So you are of the proper emanation. But it's probably best if you, oh, take a long vacation of several Taloran months if this does go through. And I promise I'll speak to Drishalras as soon as she returns."

Dani nodded, smiling. Everything looked brighter to her now, knowing she wouldn't have a lonely existance as she feared. "I'll make the arrangements immediately." And she had a good idea on just which priestess would assent...


Washington D.C., Earth
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
10 January 2165 AST.
53 J'ina I.Y. 618.



It was a Thursday in the busy capital of the Allied Nations, everyone freshly returned from Christmas vacations and the Alliance Council soon to start the first 2165 session, sure to be a heated one with the Council and Chancellory elections coming in November.
Normally this day would be reserved for President Dale to sign the various state papers that were part of the more mundane duties of his office and to purview memos and reports from the various Ministries. The next night he was due to attend a function at the British Embassy (the British of FHI-8, not CON-5), and the following week was to mostly include more of the same while working with his staff on the 2165 State of the Alliance speech.
But this routine, to be maintained until his "vacation" in February (which was more like a working holiday) and a three week trip to CON-5 in late February and early March, was now broken up. Standing in his office was a bureaucrat from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Silvio Burlucci, and Council Representative Andrea Samari, a Democrat and representative of Italy LRC-19. Burlucci was not an average bureaucrat, but was in affect an effective "ambassador" from the Italian government to the Alliance government - not in a diplomatic sense, but a bureaucratic one, as his function was to ensure communication between the Italian LRC-19 civil service and the Alliance Government's bureaucracies. He was a thin man, very quiet and unassuming, having gotten through the bureaucratic ranks primarily on "merit", which meant unflinching devotion to the rules.
Samari was a different man. Stout, affable, and with a reputation for caustic humor, he was a politician through and through, and a vigorous partisan for the Democratic Alliance Party. He had long made it known he disapproved his party's decision not to contest the 2162 Presidential election in the face of Mamatmas' endorsement of Dale, and that he intended to vigorously campaign for any Democrat who rose to challenge Dale in 2168. For the moment he had to work with the President, of course, but he did not necessarily like it.

The door opened and Peter Wells stepped in. The Foreign Minister looked at the two Italians before fixing his eyes on Dale. "Mister President, I just finished my call to Ambassador itl Ghast."
"Yes?"
"The man's name is Lokhe Iltanish, Sir. He is a Taloran merchant, a trading company co-owner looking to buy raw material from the Italian mining facilities in the Cartelli System."
Dale nodded. Looking to the two Italians, he allowed for them to speak next, and Burlucci was the one to do so. "Mister President, I regret this situation as you do. But the rights of the Italian government must not be infringed. Mister Iltanish does not have a proper official passport from the Taloran Star Empire, and thus by Italian law he is forbidden entry into our territory."

"The Taloran Star Empire does not issue passports," Wells replied to Burlucci. "They don't ask for them either."
"And that is their decision, but that does not change the fact of Italian law. And I do not see why this decision is so controversial, Mister President. The law is the law; passports are required."
"If the Talorans are so eager to trade, then maybe they should be like every other state and issue passports," Samari cut in. "This is a problem of their making as it is, and I will vigorously protest any attempt to interfere with my nation's right to enforce its laws concerning the entry of foreign persons."
"It is politically impossible for the Taloran Imperial government to do so," replied Wells. "They'd consider it an abuse of government power, an attempt to control the ability to travel."
"Well, then they cannot complain when we refuse to admit any of their nationals," Samari retorted. "They will remain isolated and alone from the rest of the Multiverse, and it will be entirely their fault. We will see how the little throwbacks act when they cannot travel past their own borders...."

"Mister President, I am not averse to making some kind of arrangement to handle this," Burlucci said, returning to the conversation and trying to undercut Samari's hostility. "So long as our laws are maintained..."
Having listened, Dale drew in a sigh and rubbed at his forehead. "Very well. I'll handle this personally." Dale reached over and tapped a couple of keys on his personal computer, accessing the system to replicate an official document. "His name is Lokhe Iltanish, correct?" Dale's fingers went over the keyboard in an attempt to anglicize the Taloran name, and when he was done a press of the main key let to a humming sound, a bright light appearing around a materialized paper on his desk. Taking up a pen, Dale gave it his signature. "This is a Presidential Travel Writ, authorizing Lokhe Iltanish to travel wherever his business requires him within Alliance territory under my official authority. Would this suffice, Mister Burlucci?"
As Samari reacted with silence and an angry expression, Burlucci nodded amiably. "Why, of course Mister President. If you can arrange that copy's transmission to Mister Illtanish, I can send word to our authorities to permit him entry into Italian territory."
"This.... this is an abuse of your power, Mister President!" Samari shouted. "You were granted that power to allow for persons of vital interest to the Alliance to travel through our territory, not to let a Taloran peddler free rein in our territory!"
"Mister Samari, we are currently looking into a diplomatic solution to this problem, but until then, I am not going to damage the growing ties with the Taloran Empire over such a trivial issue," Dale replied sharply. "You gentlemen have a good day."
"I will go to the Council when it convenes!" Samari thundered. "And mark my words, Mister President, this time next year you will be dealing with a strong Democratic Council because of your heavy-handedness!"
"I'll let the voters make that decision, Mister Samari," Dale responded, well aware that for all his bluster and fire, Samari was hardly a major member of the Council and did not carry much influence among the other Representatives. "For the time being, I have work to do. Please, my secretary will see you out."
Unlike the calm Burlucci, who clearly held no major stake in the issue and was merely pleased to have such an acceptable solution that remained within the rules, Samari nearly stormed out of the room. When both men left, Wells looked to him. "He'll go to the press."
"I know."
"They'll make a fuss about it. More governments will realize what's going on and will refuse to accept the Taloran minor governments' passports."
"I know, I know..."
"Mister President, this can..."
"I know," Dale said harshly, ending Wells' complaints. "And I can't issue a Travel Writ to every single Taloran entering ADN territory. For the time being, we'll have to find other solutions. Contact Ambassador Windsor and ask her to see if she can get the ball really moving on this. We've lost enough time on minor diplomatic talks, time to go to the next step."
"The next step?"
"Yes," Dale answered. "We have a few issues of concern with the Talorans and they have some with us. It's time to settle it all, with a general treaty if need be. Before this situation gets blown out of hand."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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dragon
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Post by dragon » 2007-07-20 07:56am

Not bad but where's the fighting :cry:

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Post by phongn » 2007-07-20 03:17pm

dragon wrote:Not bad but where's the fighting :cry:
Plenty of fighting. Just not with weapons of war :P
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