Emerald Legion, chapter fourteen
“Curiouser and curiouser” – on the disposition of allies and enemies
Ambassador Sivar Banel of Titan had been expecting this contact for some time, but was annoyed at the timing of it. Still, he raised a finger to silence his guest, and placed his palm on the amber disk of psi-crystal.
~Ambassador, have you heard from Reyu Nataal?~, Imra’s mental voice began brusquely.
~I expedited his passage home only this morning. His shuttle should have departed by now.~ the Ambassador thought reassuringly, ~It is good that you have contacted me, Imra, I had meant to make contact with you regarding the Nataal case.~
~That was weeks ago, Ambassador, and now I find that details regarding his treatment have been suppressed by the Commissioner.~ Imra began, gathering a head of steam.
~At my request, child. There are currently six hundred Titanians on Earth, and many thousands scattered across the United Planets. It would serve nobody to create a panic, save the monster who would thereby be warned that we are seeking them.~
~The people must be warned, Ambassador. Surely, you can see that their safety is more important than the mere appearance of order?~
~Imra, you are young yet, and not versed in the ways that these things must be done. I have many considerations that you have clearly not considered. Any can look at the evening newsvids and see the Champions of Venegar flying over the docks, saving the day like the knights in some ancient tale of romantic fiction, but *I* must dwell in the real world, where it has been said that up to a dozen SP personnel may be filing complaints for unwarranted telepathic coercion.~ the Ambassador stated forcefully.
Imra thought back to the moments after the battle on the docks. None of the SP personnel seemed bothered by her actions, and several had actually praised her for her quick thinking…
~No. You are lying to me now. I will discover why you would protect these monsters over your own people.~
The crystal went dark under the Ambassadors hand and he looked up at his guest. ~The girl will be trouble, Commissioner. And I sympathize with her position.~
“Ambassador, we cannot afford to let this information get out. We cannot risk this predator escaping us again.”
~And if Champion Ardeen goes public?~
“If Champion Ardeen goes public, then Reyu Nataal will be asked to corroborate her testimony. And he will be unable to do so, won’t he, Ambassador.” The Commissioner said pointedly.
The Ambassador’s eyes narrowed to slits, ~I like none of the interpretations of that comment, Rellos.~
Commissioner Rellos raised a hand, “I simply mean that the unfortunate young man will be in counseling, and that it would be a poor time to have press hounding him for details of the horrors he was forced to endure. Nothing sinister was intended.”
~And if she persists?~
“If were to persist, you would find a request upon your desk to have her extricated back to Titan.”
~On what grounds?~
“For her own safety, of course. Between the Mindfire dealers, the protesting SP officers and whatever enemies she has made by fomenting panic and discord among the Titanian émigré population, it would be safer for her, and others, if she were back home.”
~I was unaware that any formal protest had been lodged.~
“As of yet, only concerns have been expressed. But perceptions change over time, and the situation remains fluid.” The Commissioner settled back in his chair, satisfied that this business was resolved, for the time being. “Now, about that other matter.” he added, pointing towards the shacked and hooded figure seated behind them.
~Eve Aries is exiled from Titan. We will not take her. Treat her to your justice.~
“The iridium and rhodinium mesh will block her telepathy?”
~Correct. Even still, the mesh must encompass at least 60% of her head. Some telepaths find their abilities atrophy when confined in this manner. Others acclimate to the dampening effects of the metals, so if her guards report anything out of the ordinary, the mesh must be expanded. If needs be, her mouth should be covered, and she should be fed intravenously, and tubes inserted to provide her with oxygen. No guard with access to the release codes to her confinements should be permitted within ten meters of her person.~
“That sounds quite extreme. What if there is an emergency in the holding facility, and she must be moved quickly for her own safety?”
The Ambassadors eyes were cold, ~Then remember the many dozens at the Talokkian Embassy whom she held passive and unresisting as they suffocated and felt their lives slipping away, but were powerless to even crawl to safety. If the holding facility catches fire, let her burn.~
Ambassador Banel blanched at the cold-bloodedness of his own statement and shuddered. ~Please leave now, and take *that* with you.~ he added, pointing at the bound Titanian.
Sarya had been called upon as a ‘neutral third party’ to arbitrate a trade dispute between Cargg and Talokk VIII, as Venegar was one of the few UP worlds that had not yet a firm trading arrangement with either power. It was to be her first official diplomatic task, and she had been interested in the nature of the arbitration process.
That was then. Now she just wanted the damn thing to be over.
Ambassador Ravin swept majestically across the floor, gesturing broadly, glistening bracers of armor decorating his slender arms, enormous night-black cloak billowing. He had foresworn his usual jewelry of gold and wore only select bits of armor, and mere scraps of cloth, showcasing his lean body. His presence was calculated to appear majestic, and yet hungry, as if he represented a proud but poor and hard-working people. Sarya had lost interest in his specific words some time ago, but made a point of every time he compared his own proud warrior-people to those of Venegar, or his own situation, as Ambassador from a less technologically savvy world, at risk of being ruthlessly taken advantage of by sophisticated inner-worlders and their Byzantine ways, to her own situation. Six times so far.
Finally he concluded, and favored Sarya with a precise courtly bow, before sweeping back just majestically to his delegation, whereupon she was certain that she saw a functionary praising his performance and kissing his hand.
Representing Cargg, Veanli Guampti shuffled into position, the picture of contrition. Her clothing was subdued, and evoked the innocence of a child, with ruffles and bows. Sarya noted with amusement that her shoulder-length hair had been cropped to a boyish length, and her bangs hung to her large and expressive eyes. She informed Sarya of how Cargg had no significant material resources of its own, and was only able to compete economically by taking advantage of the unusual stable wormholes orbiting the world at three specific points. In perpetual risk of being nothing more than a waystop, always being bypassed by the bustle of commerce, her people had ended up on the short end of many deals, and now had a surplus of unwanted cargo that they hoped to sell at spare profit to themselves. The unfair terms of the deal brokered between her naïve and unsuspecting self and the rapacious and worldly Talokkian Ambassador would only bring hardship to her people. It would be grossly unfair for her people to be punished for the unwise choices of a foolish girl, so far from home. Sarya watched raptly, wondering if the girl would go so far as to shed tears, but apparently she realized that this would be a step too far.
She finished her presentation with a curtsy, and trudged away, biting her lip and wringing her hands, looking for all the worlds like someone had just landed a shuttlecraft on her little brother.
Sarya signaled that she would review the documents, and instead chose to watch the delegations out of the corner of her vision. The Talokkians had put up a silence field, and begun arguing most strenuously. After a point, the gesticulating became effusive, and the field became opaque as well. She idly thought that if they butchered each other in there, she would not have to hand down a ruling… The Carggite delegation was quiet and respectful, the picture of control, and Ambassador Guampti chatted quietly with his daughter, heads downcast as he held her hands in his own, the very picture of a solicitous parent.
Sarya looked down at her pad, which recounted the pesky little detail that the Carggite surplus had resulted from over a decade of cheating, swindling and extorting the diverse worlds that came to make use of their unique system of wormholes for expedited transit. ‘Sometimes you fell the tree. Sometimes the tree fells you.’ She thought, recalling her childhood in Vaul province.
She signaled her readiness to decide, and the Talokkian privacy field shimmered and fell, revealing that Ambassador Ravin was now seated, and one member of his delegation had apparently lost consciousness at some point during the conversation, and was now being tended to.
Ravin and Guampti stepped forward. Guampti’s step did not betray her mood, although she did not shuffle quite so mournfully, while Ravin did not so much ‘swoop majestically’ as thunder forward gracelessly, standing with his voluminous cloak folded about himself, no longer seeming interested in showing off his ‘lean, hungry’ physique.
“Ambassador Ravin,” Sarya began. “Your presentation was equal parts fantasy and farce, and I was particularly unimpressed by your incessant attempts to evoke my sympathies by comparing Talokk to Venegar, and your own situation to mine.” Ravin closed his eyes, and Sarya could see the slightest tremor move through him as he contained some angry retort. “Young Miss Guampti,” Sarya said kindly, fingers tenting as she leaned forward supportively, “Your performance was, if anything, worse. I find for Talokk VIII. This arbitration is ended.”
Sarya stood quickly, crushing the pad in her hand contemptuously and flinging the broken shards to the floor in front of the two representatives, before striding from the meeting chamber.
Behind her, she failed to see either Guampti’s display of temper as she stormed off, or Ravin’s calculating stare at her receding form…