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Across the Stars (Emah)

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Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 26th January 2014, 09:25

Have you ever gazed upon Gallinore from afar? Have you ever seen the rainbows scattered through the atmosphere as sleek silver darts from beyond the heavens rush down to embrace its beauty? It is a world that would be beyond compare in any other place, but in the Consortium it finds itself competing with sixty-two sisters of equal beauty. Such is Hapes. Such is home.

They were elegant words, words written from the heart. Etched in elegant cursive script upon a touch sensitive dataslate edged with filigree and pearl, using a stylus that bore the same elaborate decoration. And a moment later, there were gone, wiped clean as the owner of the slate sighed and set it down, the very faintest of frowns creasing her fair brow. It was the fourteenth time she had written that passage since her journey had started, and the fourteenth time she had deleted it. After the fifth attempt, she had attempted to turn her attention elsewhere. She had tried painting, but each gentle watercolour or vivid panorama had sat uneasily with her. She had tried studying the works of the ancient philosophers, but the subtle truths had eluded her. She had even tried joining the women of her bodyguard in the gynasium, hoping to improve upon her skill with the blade, yet such was her unease that each bout in the circle had left her stinging from the electrorapier's kiss within moments. And still she knew not why.

Rising from her writing desk, brushing an long strand of hair like spun gold back into place beneath a hairclip of woven electrum and rainbow gems, she moved across her cabin toward the viewport, eyes like sparkling sapphires staring out questioningly into the entropic depths of hyperspace that were visible beyond the transparisteel hull of her vessel. "Chume," she whispered into the void, offering the solitary word a special reverence, "What is it that you plan?"

No answer was forthcoming from beyond the viewport, yet the young woman lingered a moment, one elegantly manicured hand coming up to brush against the cool glass. The question she had spoken had been resting uneasily on her thoughts since first the Queen Mother had first summoned the noble families from across the Consortium for the grand assembly of the Royal Court, yet voicing it aloud when others might have heard was unthinkable, for to question the Queen Mother, the Chume, was as near to treason as made no difference. Even now that she was alone it was difficult to speak the words, but the young noblewoman couldn't ignore the deep disquiet that had settled upon her soul.

A chime sounded, abruptly stealing her away from her doubts and uncertainties. A moment was enough to compose herself, to glance about the room to ensure everything was as decorum demanded and to brush a fragment of dust from the shimmering silk of her cerulean dress. "Enter," she called, her voice warm, inviting, but still commanding. A moment later, the doors parted, and another woman entered. Taller than the noble, and heavier of build, though no less beautiful for it, she was clad in a simple bodyglove which bore the crest of Gallinore upon the left breast. A short sword was scabbarded at her right hip, and a precious gun of command sat in its holster upon her left. She bowed low, dark hair falling across her features momentarily before tumbling back into place as she straightened. "Lady Aurelia," she murmured, an affectionate smile touching her lips, "I trust you are well rested?"

The look of fondness was mirrored on her mistress' features as she inclined her head in assent, before adding, "I have missed your company on this journey, Lutea." There was truth, and sorrow, in her words, for the noblewoman had often whiled away the hours of a long journey with her bodyguard. Tet there was also understanding, for Aurelia of Gallinore knew that if there was anyone in the galaxy who could see through her courtly manners and carefully constructed masks in order to sense her unease, it would be Lutea, the woman who had been her shadow for so many years. "Apologies, my lady," Lutea answered softly, "But I thought it an appropriate time to review your guard. There will, after all, be a number of your relatives at this assembly, many of whom feel that you may be a contender for the Chume'da's affections."

The Chume'da. Heir apparent to the throne of the Hapes Consortium. Or, since Isildor was merely a man, the future consort of the heir to the throne, for there was not a woman in the Consortium who would see a man raise himself above them. And some saw her, perhaps, as being in his affections? They were deluded, if so, for the raven-haired Prince had spared her barely a handful of words over the entirety of their encounters, and she herself held little enough affection for the older man.

But then, what did truth matter in a place such as the Royal Court, when intrigue and deception were so very much more palatable?

"Wise as ever," Aurelia complimented her guard, grateful that she at least was thinking practically rather than dwelling on intrigues, "Tell me, do you know when we will arrive?"

Accepting the compliment with a nod, the bodyguard drew a dataslate out of a pouch on her belt and consulted it briefly. "Captain Casso believes we will leave hyperspace at the edge of the Hapes gravity well in six minutes from.... now. From there, it is usually two hours to arrival in orbit, factoring in security protocols. Today, with representatives from the sixty-two sisters in attendance? It could be hours longer."

Hours. That wasn't the answer the noblewoman had wanted to hear, but she masked her disappointment well, drawing a smile onto her features, "Well then," she suggested, "Do you believe that the Captain would permit us to join him on the bridge? I would like to catch a glimpse of Hapes as we break from hyperspace, and perhaps we shall see which of my cousins are in attendance upon the Chume."

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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Emah Naverone on 28th January 2014, 08:10

"Why me?" Was all Emah could ask of Wedge Antilles, as they stood in his office on Noquivzor. It was a temporary set up until that fateful day when the Republic standard rode high upon Coruscant. Emah never really saw what all the fuss was about the traffic was murder, people were prats, the poor were poor and the rich were rich; In short Coruscant was just the same as any other world. This reasoning was probably the reason she had never been given command of anything larger than a garbage hauler-until now that was.

"I can make it real simple or give you the entire political ins and outs." Her set jaw and angry raven brows told him all he needed to. "They won't respect a man. They won't respect someone that isn't strong and worthy of that respect. Also, I said so. Now get out, the Commander-in-Chief is about to walk through that door any minute now." He shooed her away with a hand motion and continued to do so whenever an argument dared threaten to fall from her lips, until she found herself outside in the corridor feeling like she'd just been sharked at sabbac.

She blew a strand of black hair out of her face with frustration and raged her way up the corridor to the waiting transport. Somewhere in orbit was a Mon Calamari 80a Star Cruiser that was about to get a new commanding officer.

The transport ride was spent deep in deliberation, what should she say to her bridge crew? Should she say anything? And what about the mission they had been tasked with? The dataslate Wedge had given her was a boring and lengthy summary with recent history on the Hapes Consortium. The general etiquette for a court visit and even more when in the presence of the Queen Mother herself.

She chewed upon her lip and nervously fiddled with the command pips that designated her as Lieutenant Commander, she would have been higher-ranked but she had a terrible attitude and a blatant disregard for military protocol that didn't tend to fast track you to captain.

The transport docked and she was greeted by her second before being guided up onto the bridge. The crew were standing when she entered and she took too the raised dais with the command chair. The black globe like eyes of the Dac crew seemed to bore holes through her.

"You have all read the briefing material. So, set a course for Hapes." Better than a rousing speech, she thought. The Cruiser pulled away from the planets gravity well like some space-bound whale and fired into hyperspace a moment later.
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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 28th January 2014, 09:37

The bridge was awash with activity. Officers clad in the deep blue uniform of the Hapan Royal Navy peered intently at terminals, or strode purposefully from one station to another, pausing occasional to discuss their duties. And watching it over it all from his command chair was Captain Aturus Casso, one of the few men to have risen to the esteemed rank of Captain of the Honour Fleet, the force of Sixty-Three Battle Dragons that represented the worlds of the Consortium. He was a stern man, with a narrow face beneath close cropped hair the colour of durasteel. Close beside him stood his first officer, Commander Lelana Fioro, a tall, dark haired women ten years his junior, whose fiery temper was well known even beyond the fleet. It was she who glanced across at the doors as they slid open, and the click of her heels as she snapped to attention drew Casso's gaze across.

"Lady Aurelia," he called in greeting, rising to his feet and bowing formally, "What brings you into my domain?"

"Please, Captain, don't stand on ceremony for me," Aurelia demurred softly, inclining her head in acknowledgement of his greeting, "This is, as you say, your domain, and I pray you will forgive my intrusion into it, but Lutea informed me that we would be arriving at Hapes shortly, and I hoped you would allow me to remain and catch a glimpse of it." She chose her words carefully, mixing a trace of flattery with honesty and sincere sentiment. Many in her position wouldn't have bothered with such pleasantries, for while Aurelia wasn't a member of the Hapan Royal Navy, her status as a member of the Royal Family afforded her more than a small measure of influence over the fleet. Yet that wasn't her way, and never had been, for what benefit was there in earning the ire of those around her when her proximity to the throne had already earned her more enemies than she could ever hope to overcome.

Casso, it seemed, was one of those people who appreciated her approach to such things, for he smiled approvingly, responding, "You have a honeyed tongue, milady, but far be it from me to object, or to refuse you your glimpse of Hapes. If you'd care to cast your eyes on the front viewport, you'll see Hapes in..." He broke off, glancing quickly across at Fioro, who finished for him, "Twenty-six seconds."

Twenty-six seconds. Truthfully, that was no time at all, but to Aurelia it seem an age, and she found herself having to wrap her fingers around the silvered metal of the nearby guardrail lest they beat out an impatient staccato on the metal.

"Ten seconds," Fioro noted, after what seemed to have been ten decades. Her voice was echoed through the commlink as well, granting it an eerie, echoing quality as it was piped to every deck of the massive starship. "All sections report ready. All hands brace for hyperspace reversio in five... four... three... two... one... mark."

There was a shudder, and a flash of light. The entire ship jolted, like a ronto trying to shake its rider, and Aurelia stumbled against the rail a heartbeat before Lutea's hand caught her, steadying her. The young noblewoman barely noticed, for her shining blue eyes were fixated upon the viewport, where the starlines were fading back into pinpricks of light, and a luminescent nebula was swirling across the darkness of the avoid. And there, in the center of it all, orbited by seven gleaming moons and ringed by the blinking lights of its defence networks, was the verdant jewel of the Consortium, fair Hapes herself.

"Beautiful," Aurelia whispered reverently, her eyes wide.

"How many times now?" It was Lutea who spoke, her voice soft as Aurelia's own and betraying the gently teasing grin that the noblewoman knew her guard was wearing.

"How many times have I seen it?" asked Aurelia, closing her eyes and smiling as she thought back, remembering, "Ten. And each time I find myself believing it can't possibly be as beautiful as I remember. But I'm always wrong. It's always every bit as wondrous as my memory suggests."

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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Emah Naverone on 30th January 2014, 00:25

Uncomfortable. That was the only word to describe the mood upon the bridge and Emah knew that its epicenter was herself. Officer training school had covered tactics, discipline and a plethora of other topics but even the Imperials couldn't cure anti-social and she was just that, a loner and an island unto herself. Other people were interlopers and trespassers that she had no clue how to deal with.

So when the navigation officer announced reversion to real space she couldn't help but feel relieved. When the cruiser finally burst from hyperspace a murmur spread across the bridge like wildfire.

"Well that's a sight...." She said standing from her chair as before them were arrayed Sixty-Three Hapan Battle Dragons. Her training quickly kicked in, shoving aside the awe and she barked to her coms officer "Signal the Hapes Fleet, inform them we are non-hostile and are here by invitation of the Queen Mother."
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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 30th January 2014, 06:39

Light bloomed and flowered off the Battle Dragon's starboard bow, and another starship slid smoothly out of hyperspace. This one larked the stark, unyielding lines of the Hapan fleet, instead displaying elegant, fluid curves that seemed entirely out of place on a ship of war.

Somewhere in the ceiling over Aurelia's head, an alarm began to shrill its harsh refrain, and the light bathing the bridge took on a crimson cast, bestowing upon the crew an almost infernal appearance as their activity took on a sense of fresh urgency. "Mon-Calamari Star Cruiser," a crewman called from somewhere toward the rear of the chamber, "Class eighty-aurek. Weapons... weapons are inactive. Weapons are inactive and shields are down." He sounded calm, or, at the very least, he was fighting to offer an illusion of that, but few enough were the Nobles of Hapes who might have missed the subtle rise in inflection that betrayed his relief when he noted the Mon-Calamari cruiser wasn't preparing for conflict.

"They're hailing the fleet," another officer called from off to Aurelia's right, "Identifying themselves as representatives of the New Republic, here by personal request of her eminence, the Queen Mother."

A murmur of surprise ran across the bar at that, only to fall silent as the first officer drew a narrow baton from her belt and rapped it sharply against a rail. Captain Casso nodded once at his second, then turned to address his crew, "Do you question the Queen Mother? Any one of you? What of you, Laurec? Or you, Selarin? No?" Casso paused, his icy gaze sweeping across the deck as he sought response, but there was nothing; A silence so deep that the distant thrumming of the Battle Dragon's engines and generators seemed almost deafening. A moment later, the Captain nodded, essaying a grim smile as he did, "Good, for we are here to serve, not to question, and any one of you who forgets that will earn themselves a stay in the brig."

His words were harsh, but Aurelia could find no fault with the passion behind them. In truth, she was moved by the Captain's sincere loyalty, though she knew better than to express such thoughts before the women and men of the crew. Thus instead she turned her back on the assembly and stepped lightly toward the viewport, Lutea, as ever, at her shoulder. "Imagine," she murmured, barely loud enough for the words to carry across the bridge, whilst raising one hand almost longingly toward the amplified image of the Star Cruiser, "Just imagine how far that ship has travelled at the will of our beloved Chume. The people aboard - the women, men, and aliens - gaze now upon wondrous Hapes for the very first time. And how, I wonder, shall we greet them?"

Soft spoken though the words were, it was almost as though the question within them travelled across the ebon void, for but a heartbeat after her words had faded into memory, a strong, powerful voice broke through the communications network, broadcasting itself across every ship in the Honour Fleet. "People of the Republic, this is Prince Isolder, Commander of the Song of War, Admiral of the Honour Fleet, Chume'da of the Hapes Consortium. On behalf of my mother, Ta'a Chume, I welcome you to our worlds, and bid you know no fear whilst you are here."

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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Emah Naverone on 4th February 2014, 13:07

Emah was pleased. They hadn't been fired upon, which was a grand start by any measure and hearing the greeting of none other than the crown prince himself set her more at ease. She nodded to the coms-officer and he opened a line to Isolder.

"I thank you, Prince Isolder. I am Lieutenant Commander Emah Naverone, representing the New Republic." She casually flicked through the information Wedge had provided her. It wasn't exactly thorough. At a guess she deduced it had been thrown together at the last minute. Which explained why they had dropped out of hyperspace into the middle of a fully assembled honor fleet. The invitation to initiate diplomatic relations must have been unexpected, so much so that the pencil pushers back at head quarters were utterly unprepared but it was too good an opportunity to miss; Hapes as allies would surely tip the balance of the war.

"My apologies Prince Isolder, we appear to have arrived at an inopportune moment." She was fishing, hoping to high hell that her lack of preparation wouldn't show. It could only put her on the immediate back foot for the diplomatic negations she had been sent here to conduct.

"Perhaps one of our diplomats could arrange another meeting at a later date? We would hate to intrude."
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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 5th February 2014, 06:36

To say that the Chume'da's words had caused a stir amongst the women and men of the Hapan fleet was akin to saying that Rainbow gems were a touch on the expensive side. Whispers swept through the crew, and Aurelia found herself raising a hand to her lips to cover her startled exclamation as her eyes sought out the shape of the Song of War amidst the gathered fleet. "Isolder," she whispered, forgetting decorum in the shock of the moment, "Cousin, what are thinking?" No answer was forthcoming, of course, but for that of the Republic to Isolder's words of greeting.

"I thank you, Prince Isolder. I am Lieutenant Commander Emah Naverone, representing the New Republic."

Aurelia nodded in numb approval when she first heard the voice; a woman was good, it showed the Republic had at least a basic grasp on Hapan culture. And the voice was strong, proud, but respectful, as one would have expected from a woman of Hapes itself. Yet the rank... the woman's calm announcement of her rank chilled Aurelia. "Only a Commander?" she wondered aloud, turning to glance askance at Lutea, seeking assurance from one more familiar with the military mind than she herself was, "Do they realise the insult?"

"Likely not, ladyship," her bodyguard answered, a thoughtful tone lacing through her words, "In truth, and if my memory serves, this may well be the highest ranking woman in their military. So to send anyone more senior..." She trailed off, leaving the comment unspoken, but Aurelia inclined her head in understanding nonetheless. To send anymore senior, they would have had to send a man. The Hapan had to admit, the Republicans' decision made more sense when considered in that light, although the fact that women seemed to hold no real rank in the Republic was concerning enough.

"My apologies Prince Isolder, we appear to have arrived at an inopportune moment," the woman from the Republic continued, "Perhaps one of our diplomats could arrange another meeting at a later date? We would hate to intrude."

Isolder's rich voice answered almost instantly, warm with amusement, "Intruding? Lieutenant Commander, you intrude upon nothing; the Honour Fleet has assembled for you. It has brought the members of the Royal Court from across the Hapes Consortium to hear the words of the New Republic."

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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Emah Naverone on 14th February 2014, 16:34

Kill. Wedge. Antilles.

This was Emah's first thought after had Isolder finished. The next was just how much rested upon her shoulders now, this was more serious than she had ever imagined. She had expected this to be merely a meeting with a low level delegate, possibly a quiet word with the Queen Mother not an occasion as to warrant such a procession.

"Well then, we are honored. Although I must confess, taken aback by such a display for our arrival." Her eyes flicked to her second, a woman that Naverone hadn't even asked for her name. She was a head smaller than Emah, with mousy brown hair pulled back into a pony tail and the expression on her bronzed face mirrored that of Emah's own. It was nice to know she wasn't the only one off balance by this development.
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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 17th February 2014, 00:42

The Republican's admission of being caught on the back foot was a frank, bold gesture. Too bold, perhaps, for the words would surely be relayed back to each and every member of the Royal Court within minutes, and there were many amongst the court who would be quick to seize upon the impolitic words. Yet there were others who would appreciate the fact that the Republic had spoken with such sincerity though it assuredly meant that they would be speaking from a position of weakness in the negotiations to follow.

The question, as Aurelia saw it, was which faction held more influence over the Queen Mother? Was it those who saw despicable weakness, or those who saw admirable honesty? In all truth, it was impossible to predict, for the influence of favourites in the Court ebbed and flowed like the tides, and those who held Ta'a Chume's ear on one day might hold naught but her contempt on the next.

But Isolder was a fair reflection of the Queen Mother's mood, and so Aurelia found herself listening intently as the Chume'da spoke in answer to the Republican woman's words. His words - a meaningless hand wave intended to dismiss the woman's doubts - swept over her unheeded, for it was the tone she cared about. It was warm, but powerful. Welcoming, but authorative. He, at least, seemed unperturbed by their admission, although perhaps that was unsurprising when one considered that he must surely have known the visual impact the assembled Honour Fleet would provide.

"Has the formal assembly been called?" Aurelia inquired, dismissing the Republic from her thoughts for the moment as Isolder passed control of the communications channel across to an officer who set about explaining landing protocols to the Republic. It was for the assembly that the Royal Court had been summoned to Hapes, and now that the reason for the summons had made itself so blatantly apparent she was keen to discover what her peers thought of the situation.

Glancing down at her datapad, Lutea nodded. "Schedule is just coming through. General assembly commences in one hour, and will last for an hour while the council meet with Prince Isolder. That's to be followed by a meeting of the privy council, and then a short break before a formal reception for the envoys from the Republic. Anything after that is subject to variation."

Aurelia considered the schedule thoughtfully, her blue eyes bright with life. She wouldn't be invited to the privy council, of course, so her only formal duties were the general assembly and the reception. That was fine by her, for although a place on the privy council would better enable her to determine Ta'a Chume's intent, and the break between the assembly and the reception would at least allow her to meet with some of her cousins to get a feel for how the mood was taking the court. "It would seem there is much to do," she concluded thoughtfully, "Please have my shuttle prepared."

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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Emah Naverone on 19th February 2014, 09:29

"Docking clearance coming through from the Song of War." Emah took a breath, steeling herself for a face to face meeting with the Prince himself before nodding at the coms-officer,

"Prepare a shuttle, I'll leave at once." She made to stride from the bridge and then stopped, turning toward the woman that had stood at her side throughout. "Lieutenant, with me." The smaller woman gave no indication that she were surprised by the invite. She came into step beside her as they exited the bridge.

"Have a name?" Emah asked, her strides long and with purpose while the smaller woman struggled to keep pace along the corridor.

"Teller, sir. Miranda Teller." The Lieutenant responded. They lapsed into silence when they stepped into the turbolift and it continued for several more minutes before Emah spoke again.

"Mucked that one up, eh?"

"It isn't my place to say, sir."

"So you agree then." She replied with a cold smile as the doors swished open. The transport ship sat idling, outside it stood two armed escorts. They snapped their blaster rifles across their chests as they approached and followed them into the transport.

"What do you reckon this is all about then?" Naverone inquired as they took their seats. Miranda hesitated for a moment, using the act of buckling herself in to avoid the question. "Don't be shy, you aren't much use to me if you can't speak your mind when asked to."

"Sorry sir," She replied. "It doesn't sit right with me."

"Glad I'm not alone..." Emah responded as the shuttle lifted from the hanger bay of the Cruiser and slipped out into the black, its destination the crimson red of Isolders personal Battle Dragon.
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Re: Across the Stars (Emah)

Post  Lady Aurelia on 26th February 2014, 07:21

The crew of the Song of War were well used to playing host to dignitaries. They had to be, for even discounting the multitude of ladies and lords who sought the honour of attending upon the Chume'da in his martial domain, there was also the fact that, while Ta'a Chume most often chose to meet with her son on dear Hapes itself or within the palatial expanses of her own vessel, the Star Home, she did sometimes decide to visit Isolder aboard the gargantuan Battle Dragon.

Despite this, there was an almost palpable sense of anticipation in the air as the doors of the primary hanger bay swished aside with the merest whisper of hydraulics, allowing Prince Isolder to stride into the bay. A tall, powerfully built man, he played the part of the Master and Commander perfectly, offering a crisp salute to the officers who had gathered there prior to his arrival. A simple glance at the shimmering forcefield that shielded the bay from the frigid grip of the void was enough to confirm that the representatives of the Republic had yet to arrive, and he turned his slate-grey eyes to a lithe blonde in the dress uniform of the Honour Fleet. "Report," he ordered crisply.

Captain Terrakis, nominal commander of the Song of War, glanced down at her datapad briefly before responding. "The Republic are sending a Lambda-class shuttle. ETA is two standard minutes."

Nodding, Isolder raised a hand thoughtfully to his jaw. "And the Honour Guard?"

"Are standing ready, and will fall in as soon as the shuttle has landed," Terrakis finished smoothly, drawing a broad smile from her commander.

"Excellent," he noted, "Let us show these people of the Republic how it is done on Hapes."




Meanwhile...

Not too very far from where the women and men of the Honour Fleet prepared to formally welcome the Republicans to the Song of War, Aurelia stood silent and alone on the bridge of her own vessel. Behind her, the crew bustled about their assigned tasks, a low murmur of conversation the only noise beyond the occasional beep of a terminal and the distant thrum of the engines. Aurelia heeded none of it, for her attention remained focused on the barely visible speck of light that had leapt from the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser's docking bay some minutes previously. It was, she knew, the shuttle carrying the Republic's emissaries as they traveled across to the Chume'da's flagship.

How many of them would there be, she found herself wondering. Would the woman who had spoken be there? It seemed likely, but who else would be with her? Diplomats, surely, for all her reading on the subject of the Consortium's galactic neighbours had made it apparent that the Republic put a great deal of stock in their diplomats. More, perhaps, than was wise, but that was a consideration for another time. Who else, then? Soldiers? Would they be wise enough to understand that many in a martial culture such as theirs would see the absence of soldiers as an insult?

In all truth, it was impossible to predict, but still the thoughts danced through her mind until, at last, Aurelia's contemplations were disturbed by the gentle chimes of her commlink. "Lutea?" she asked softly, raising the device to her lips.

"Your shuttle is ready, my lady," came her bodyguard's voice, projected clear as crystal by the device, "Do you wish me to arrange clearance for launch and travel to Hapes?"

Hesitating a moment, Aurelia let her gaze linger on the distant shuttle just a heartbeat longer before answering, "Yes, please. I'll be with you in a moment." With that, she clicked the commlink off and, with one last look at the Republican vessel, turned from the viewport and strode toward the bridge's exit.

It was, she felt, going to be a most interesting day.

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