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[Mars] (Galactic Nations' Headquarters)
Deep in the Martian antarctic stands a testament to humanity's resilience and ingenuity; an homage to its ancient past and a promise to its distant future.
At approximately 5400 feet in height, the GNHQ was by far the most imposing shape in the Martian antarctic, and possibly in the entire southern hemisphere of Mars. The immense, black pyramid was an intimidating sight from afar, with the light of Sol glistening off its sleek surface, though it was rather more welcoming on the inside.
The 4th floor was especially pleasant, with celebrations afoot. As the large, holographic banners made clear, today was the 50th anniversary of the GN's founding. In celebration of this, and in a symbolic commitment to the future of the galaxy, a very multicultural group of children from a few local schools had been invited tour the facilities and meet the ambassadors, with a few of the older ones even making presentations before the General Assembly.
Chairwoman Mnhiri Alaura had actually been quite impressed by these presentations. The few children who had been brave enough to compose one had conducted themselves very well, with cogent, well-researched points and more respect for decorum than some of the actual ambassadors. Of course, she would keep that latter remark to herself. The topics themselves had been quite inoffensive, things like the the importance of access to potable water and proper sanitation, but even if they hadn't been, was any GN ambassador really tactless enough to heckle children?
Trying not to think too hard about the answer to that question, she had capped off that part of the session with a quick and well-rehearsed speech thanking the children and reminding everyone about what the GN has stood for these past 50 years; peace and stability in the galaxy, and the betterment of all sapient beings. Lots of warm, fuzzy feeling and very little substance. She had never really cared for speeches all that much, but it remained an important part of her job to set the correct tone for the Assembly, and to represent the GN as an institution in the eyes of the galaxy.
The session was in recess for now, enabling the ambassadors (and their staff) to look good for all the press that was around, to socialize, to grab a quick meal or even to do a little politicking. The rest of the children, those who hadn't been brave enough to stand up in front of a room full of some the galaxy's most important adults and tell them what's what, had tables set up for them, upon which they each had a project set up. Some were more relevant to the GN than others, and while some sported things like genuinely impressive dioramas or comprehensive biographies of current or former ambassadors, others were little more than a few bare-bones holo-papers, unloved and largely unattended.
Either way, none of it was terribly exciting. Not for long, anyway. Mnhiri's mind was focused on what they'd be doing after the recess; they were set to debate Resolution 601: A Commitment to Galactic Peace. Much like the speech she'd given earlier, it was all fluff; full of non-binding clauses and feel-good wording. It was supposed to pass easily, but if there was anything she'd learned from her time as Chairwoman, it was that the business of the General Assembly was hardly ever easy. Hopefully today would be an exception, though, as there would be children in the gallery, some of whom had helped draft the resolution - with the help of their teachers, of course - as well as numerous reporters broadcasting the session live to people across the galaxy. Surely no one would make a fuss in front of such an audience?
“Wouldn't you agree? Chairwoman?”
Mnhiri snapped out of her brief reverie and smiled. She had been speaking to the World Web's ambassador, Mammet Artetu, who had a tendency to ramble, which had a tendency to make the Venerable Chairwoman daydream. Luckily their conversation appeared to be wrapping up.
A keen observer would also be able to spot of few other groups or persons of interest in the crowd;
[Neptune Station] (Waiting Room)
Neptune Station was perhaps best described by what is was not. It was not populated enough to be a major population centre, nor was its permanent population small enough for it to be considered a mere way-station. It didn't generate enough revenue or attract enough business to be a trade hub, nor was it losing enough money for the Martian government to justify shutting it down. It was not the worst place to live in the Sol system, but it was far from the best. Neptune Station just sort of... was. A semi-forgotten station of the edge of the system, quietly going about its business, undisturbed, for years on end.
As such, aside from supply ships, Neptune Station did not receive many visitors. If this was not made clear by its woefully underdeveloped hospitality industry, it was perfectly exemplified by the barren state of its spaceport. The room where would-be passengers waited to board was large, mostly grey and mostly empty. There were a few rows of chairs in the middle of the room – all adjustable to suit most species, but hardly comfortable – all facing a glitchy holographic display that showed the ETA of the only ship expected to arrive today; the CSS Horizon.
Checking baggage, passports and tickets was a lone, surly Yaha and a few old robots. The customs agent certainly took her time inspecting everything, and was certainly not in the mood for small talk. Helping her ensure order were some “customer service drones”, spherical little robots that hovered all around the room, responding to any questions with one of a handful of vague and unhelpful lines, providing some limited information about arrivals, and occasionally bumping into each other.
About the only thing about the room that was not depressing were its only two occupants (aside from the custom agent); a human female who, while not quite dirty enough to be a vagabond, certainly didn't look like she was showing up to a new job, and a Visst female who looked she was probably too young to be starting a career aboard a long-haul freighter.
There was also a brightly-coloured vending machine up against a near-by wall that offered a variety of cheap snacks. Next to it was an old-fashioned screen embedded into the wall, displaying a local 24/7 news channel.
"Attention passengers," chimed the uncannily-happy voice of the automated announcement system. "The C.S.S Horizon will arrive in..." There was a lengthy pause. "Minutes. The Martian Transport Authority thanks you for your cooperation and wishes you a pleasant day."
"So I hear, 'something...something... police!' and I'm barely sober enough to comprehend the last word. Yeah, the police had arrived to break up the party and we're all underaged and sloshed as hell so we all start running out as fast we we can! I run through the laundry room, around the pool to where I thought there was a gate to the front yard, but nope! Just a fence. But I can hear the cops in the back! So I keep running and think to myself 'I've never climbed a fence this high before' and then I woke up at home."
Away from the children and more puritanical adults in the room, Ambassador Myrir Munbeem of the United Stars of Woglinde was trading stories of youthful indiscretion with his compatriots in the Galactic Nations. His spherical body stayed in place, held up by three large tentacles while the other five mimicked running motions. Likewise the four eyes that could face his group did so while the other half around his body lazily scanned the rest of the floor.
Staff looking busy, security looking for trouble, ambassadors trying to look important, children excited, in awe, or bored depending on how invested their were in the spacial-political climate of the Known Galaxy. Who was that chubby jiptohr double dipping in the salsa? Not much different than the usual fare for parties like this. Munbeem did feel a certain sense of excitement in the air though that was different though. The 50th anniversary did feel like an accomplishment for the Galactic Nations. 50 years of not blowing up the galaxy - mostly - did certainly feel like something worth celebrating.
Tyoni Marusul looked into the camera embedded into his palm and started recording just as he hopped into the room.
"Hi, guys!" he started brightly. "I'm back and I am speaking to you from..." he tried to remember the name. He could not. "... Middle-of-Nowhere, Mars! After the hustle and bustle of the capital's spaceport, this place is like the land that time forgot. It just is, just being, like a rock in a meadow, waiting for the acid rain to slowly erode it."
Tyoni thought for a second. "There's erosion in space, right? Like, space dust and space rays will erode this place? Yo, one of you smart people in the comments, get on that."
He switched from the palm cam to the ones atop his eyes. Unless one was near enough to hear what he was saying, one would be none the wiser that Tyoni was recording. Granted, with the total lack of anything else going on, it would be hard to miss the dotur's commentary.
He spotted the first two occupants of the room and hopped over to them when he saw the vending machine. Killing the video feed, he abruptly changed course to meet the insatiable demands for sugar from his metabolism.
"Attention passengers," Tyoni stopped short when the broadcast came on. An ear snapped to attention, turning in the direction of the nearest speaker "The C.S.S Horizon will arrive in... Minutes. The Martian Transport Authority thanks you for your cooperation and wishes you a pleasant day."
"Minutes?" Tyoni echoed. "That's flippin' vague as fiddlesticks. Not ten minutes? Not 15 minutes? 60 minutes? 600 minutes? The people want answers here!"
Forgetting his snack, Tyoni returned to his original destination next to the human and Visst. "What's your take on the classified nature of the ship's arrival schedule? Bureaucratic red tape? A Martian government conspiracy? Yohzhu's shady new drug? The TAWN fooling around again?"
[Mars] Galactic Nations Headquarters
Acoatl Tzahualli stood off to one side, a stemmed glass of nectar in hand and a neutral expression on his face. The zhur’ryan’s three eyes panned slowly across the room, taking in his fellow ambassadors, the scores of hatchlings from numerous races, and the dozens of projects which the latter had set up in an effort to impress the former. Some, in his opinion, were successful in that regard; others fell far short of the mark.
One of his bodyguards leaned over. “At least your daughter won’t lack for the company of others her own age, sire,” she whispered.
Acoatl clicked his tongue against the roof of his beak. “Quite.” His precious Moon Flower was due to arrive shortly, a reward for good behaviour and academic excellence. He’d agreed to the visit as it would be an opportunity to broaden her horizons and enrich her understanding of the galactic community, things she’d need in the future.
Of course, if he’d have known just how many children would be present today, he might have postponed the visit for a later date.
While his primary eyes continued to observe the room, his third eye glanced at the bodyguard. “The security detail is waiting for her at the spaceport, yes?”
“Of course, sire.”
“And you’ve instructed them not to let her out of their sight?”
“They shall watch her as a cuauhtli watches its prey, sire. No one will ruffle so much as a feather on her head.”
Acoatl’s own feathers twitched, the nanites within them cycling their pigmentation from hot pink to lime green. He took a moment to exhale, and as he calmed down the cycling colours slowed to a less hectic speed.
“We have taken every possible precaution, sire,” said the bodyguard. “Your daughter will be perfectly fine.”
Acoatl said nothing for a long moment. He lifted the glass to his beak, his tongue darting out to scoop up droplets of the sweet nectar. A pleasant warmth suffused his throat as the drink went down, soothing his frazzled nerves. “I will hold you to that, Captain,” he finally said. “And I suppose I’ve loitered enough.”
As he spoke, his eyes fell upon the ambassadors of Mars and the Grand Confederacy. Their nations were the Tlatlathui Imperium’s closest neighbours to the galactic east and south, and the sight of them holding a whispered conversation off in a corner, clearing trying to keep to themselves, was enough to make him raise an eyebrow. He began moving through the crowd in that direction, making small talk as he went, stopping every now and then to look over one of the hatchlings’ projects with a critical eye. all throughout he would glance surreptitiously towards the two ambassadors with one of his eyes, trying to make out what was being said.
[Neptune Station] Waiting Room
Xaltozan Ceehecatl had found himself in plenty of seedy places over the last few years, but this one was easily in the top fifteen. Whether that was a mark for or against Neptune Station was something he hadn’t decided yet.
He ruffled his feathers in annoyance as the station’s customs official checked his belongings and documentation. He’d dealt with Yaha before, but even so it rankled him to be subjected to the whims of something so small. Some of the tools in his bag were longer than she was tall. Hells, some of the things he’d eaten were bigger than she was—and with her multiple eyes and gossamer wings, she didn’t look too different from some of those meals, either.
Naturally, he kept these thoughts to himself. The last thing Xaltozan needed right now was to get thrown into whatever passed for a brig on this rundown station.
Once the Yaha finished with his belongings and handed them back to him, he slung his bag over one shoulder and moved into the waiting area. He watched the flickering holographic screen, listened to the canned voice over the loudspeaker, and let out a chuff as the announcement ended. “What good is that?” he muttered to himself. “Either tell us the damn time or keep your beak shut...”
He took a seat, adjusting the height until he felt somewhat comfortable. That was the curse of being zhur’ryan; you were taller than most other races, but your legs were shorter in proportion to the rest of your body. Once he’d gotten it to a position where his feet could actually touch the floor without his legs being too straight or too bent, he let out a relieved sigh.
He chuffed again. “Chairs. Give me a perch any day.”
Shrugging, he let his bag slide off his arm onto the ground. He started to reach inside, grabbing a pack of cheap lho-sticks, then paused and glanced over at one of those spherical robots. “Hey, droid. This place got a no-smoking policy?”
“It’s red!” Meztli Xochitl tore her face away from the shuttle’s viewscreen. “Look how red the planet is, Miss Ahuic!”
“Yes, milady,” her tutor said distractedly. “The red colour comes from the large deposits of iron—”
“In the planet’s soil.” Meztli bounced on the balls of her feet, her soft white down fluffing up in excitement. “I knew that already, Miss Ahuic, but knowing it and seeing it with my own eyes are two different things!”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, but please hold still.” The tutor loomed over Meztli and began tucking the hatchling’s feathers back into place. She frowned when Meztli fidgeted in her grasp.
“I can’t help it, Miss Ahuic! I’m just so excited to see father again!”
“I realize that, but please remember that you’re not simply here on a visit. While we’re on Mars, you represent the Tlatlathui Imperium just as much as your father does, and he’ll want you to be on your best behaviour.” Miss Ahuic straightened out the folds in Meztli’s blouse, and adjusted the copper chain around her neck so that the golden icon hanging from it was centered on her chest. With this done, she stood up and fixed her with a critical eye. “Now please, milady, let me see your curtsy.”
Fighting the urge to roll her eyes, Meztli plucked the hems of her blouse and spread them as she made a polite bow. “How do you do?” she asked without prompting. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please accept our sincerest greetings on behalf of the Imperium.”
Miss Ahuic nodded in approval. “There we are; a perfect scion of the tlatoque.”
Meztli let go of her blouse and turned to face the viewscreen again. Her eyes gleamed as they caught the light of Mars, which grew larger and larger with each passing second. “How long until we land?”
“Patience, milady. You’ll be seeing the cuahtlatoani soon enough…”
Twenty minutes later their shuttle had set down in a star port not far from the Galactic Nations Headquarters. Meztli’s eyes widened and her beak hung open in awe as she stepped down the boarding ramp, taking in the strange and unfamiliar architecture of the Martian cityscape. Her gaze fell upon her welcoming party, six zhur’rya clad in the familiar black and gold armour of her father’s Ocelot Knights, and her face lit up with glee as the knights bowed respectfully before her.
“We bid you welcome, Lady Meztli Xochitl,” said the leader of the Knights, his voice rendered flanging and metallic through his helmets speakers. He straightened up and swept out an arm, gesturing toward a nearby diplomatic speeder. “Your father awaits you.”
They escorted her into the speeder, and Meztli couldn’t help but kick her legs as she sank into the comfortable plush seating. Soon they were in motion, buildings and mountains flashing past the windows on either side, and despite the reproachful look Miss Ahuic shot her Meztli couldn’t help but feel giddy—not just at the fact she’d be seeing her father soon, but at her treatment. The family guards were always respectful towards her, but never this respectful. It made her feel like the daughter of the Huey Tlatoani himself to be treated this way.
Then she saw the great black pyramid on the horizon, and her beak dropped open again. “Wow…”
A gentle finger pressed against her lower mandible, shutting her beak. “Please don’t gawp, milady.”
Meztli’s down ruffled, and she shrank down in embarrassment. “Sorry, Miss Ahuic.”
Her tutor’s expression softened. “There’s nothing wrong with being impressed, milady. But remember, you are of the tlatoque, and the tlatoque do not gawp as the commoners do.”
Meztli shut her eyes. She breathed in, breathed out, and willed herself to be calm. “We will try, Miss Ahuic. We shall be as still as a mirror.”
The pyramid dominated the horizon now. It was big, maybe even bigger than her family’s palace back home on Coyametl, but smooth-sided rather than tiered. She found herself wondering how long it would take to slide down one of its sides from top to bottom. Maybe she’d get the chance to find out, if she could just slip away from Miss Ahuic for a few hours…
Koruuna had always enjoyed the presence of the children on the station. It warmed her heart to see people as young as they were showing interest in the state of the galaxy. She walked from table to table, pleasantly observing the various projects the children had put together, and nodding approvingly at the ones that caught her eyes.
As cute as it all was, she couldn't help but wonder if anything would happen on such a momentous occasion as the 50th anniversary of the Galactic Nations. Such a big event couldn't help but attract big events of its own. She tried not to think about any potential dangers for now, and instead brought her attention back to the children.
Specifically, a group of children who seemed to have wandered from their parents and were now hiding underneath a table. She walked up to the group and knelt, looking down at them dotingly (as dotingly as an Ashkathi could with a blank stare, at any rate).
"Pardon me, dears, but you seem to be lost. You're rather far away from the goings-on, aren't you?" she asked sweetly, almost like a doting mother.
Maros was a bit glum. You couldn't tell by his expressionless face, but he was sitting slumped in one of the chairs. He had hoped that Neptune Station would be more exciting. He had done his research about Neptune and found lots of information on an old Martian god of the sea, back before the Martians' home planet was destroyed by the Tennosians. He had expected Neptune to be a water planet. Now he had arrived, and been nothing but disappointed. A lifeless gas giant, completely uninhabitable.
The arrival of the Horizon would not come soon enough. He was getting restless. He looked around at the waiting room. The canned announcement about the Horizon's arrival, in... minutes. How many minutes? His brain spun for a bit. Apparently he wasn't the only person to have an issue with the announcement, as a nearby dotur and zhur'ryan chafed at the announcement as well.
"I agree, these sorts of announcements are just ridiculous," Maros pointed out. "What's the point of telling us information that isn't helpful?"
edited 31st Dec '17 9:51:40 PM by AllHailThrall
Mars, Galactic Nations' Headquarter
Two wineglasses clinked together. Their owners sipped from them.
"To the Galactic Nations," Apostle Segro said. His voice was harsh, not unkind, just not naturally a welcoming voice. He was the taller of the two, more severe in appearance. He noticeably held the drink in his flesh and blood hand as opposed to his cybernetic one.
"To the Galactic Nations," Apostle Zain echoed. His voice was smooth, fluid like water in contrast to the sand-like grind of Segro's. Like his partner, he wore a black uniform, except his ended at the waist, exposing silver metallic legs. Both of them had their masks clipped to their belt.
Today was the 50th anniversary of the Galactic nations, clearly an event to acknowledge. It called for food, entertainment, and drinks. They weren't actually drinking wine, of course, simply a convincing substitute. Apostles could partake in alcohol, but most just rather wouldn't. Besides, there were children around. Best keep the alcohol away for now.
Zain's eyes were drawn to the Izeran ambassador, who was trying to speak to the children and their teachers, though how successful he was at it was unknown.
"If you'll excuse me, Apostle Segro," Zain said, bowing his head slightly. Segro waved his hand vaguely, though it was clear he meant to dismiss Zain to whatever business he must attend to.
Zain made his way slowly over to where the Izeran ambassador was, occasionally stopping to amicably greet some fellow diplomats. Once he got there, he waved casually to the Izeran ambassador, smiling slightly. Then he turned to the children, leaning down slightly to greet them at a more even level.
Segro, meanwhile, wandered over to where the the Wassingtowne Union, Eternal Burrow and Mighty Amalah Nation were discussing something presumably unpleasant, if their faces were anything to go by. He did not inject himself into the conversation, but did hang about the edges, clearly curious, or at least as curious as someone with such sharp features could look.
Neptune Station, Waiting Room
First he had lost his last job, then he had wandered around for a bit without pay, then he had spent money getting here, and now the damn waiting thingy couldn't even tell Riley when the damn ship was arriving.
Wayne Riley sighed, holding his head in his hands. It was possible he had been drinking last night, possibly a bit too much. Possibly. As if he could afford it. Everything sounded too loud, and there was a bit of a fuzz around the edges of his sight. He hadn't just been drinking, after all. But that was besides the point. The point was that everyone in here was probably in for the only ship that day, the Horizon, so that meant the people in here were future crewmates of his. And the impression they were leaving so far simply wasn't to Riley's liking. Of course, he was just a bit too, how to say, hungover for anything to leave a good impression.
Of course, now they were all talking. To each other, apparently. Riley just took his head out of his hands and leaned back in his seat, his eyes closed. He wasn't in the talking mood right now, even if these were people he would have to get used to. Maybe he had had too much asva last night...
Mars, GN headquarters
It was a rather good thing for Bykata that Savages formal attire included face covering masks, as during most of the kids' presentations, she was dozing off. The mask was apparently very similar to a 'kitsune mask' according to the humans she had interacted with, but that didn't mean much to her. She was of course wearing a fancy dress for the occasion, one that poofed out at the bottom much like an old fashioned wedding dress, and was a deep blue color, and slightly reflective. Of course it obscured the personal shield device she had on her back for any unforeseen emergency; she had also wanted to bring along some 'ceremonial' blades as well, but Bykosi had talked her out of it.
When the major presentations were finished, she made a point of going to see the project made by the sole gleep student, as it was expected of her to do so. Or rather, Bykosi had reminded her about it and just about dragged her cousin there. Once they were done trying to look good for the camera so to speak, Bykata was now standing somewhere in the middle of the room, talking with her younger sister who was there as 'bodyguard' on topics that were not fit for children in most societies, sounding bored and clearly uncaring.
Bykosi meanwhile had a slim summer style dress that was split diagonally in the opposite direction of her natural fur for contrast, black on the top, white on the bottom. It likewise kept a personal shield device concealed. Bykosi had gone around checking out some of the kids' projects, in particular actually paying attention to the ones with simple holo-papers, scanning them into her PDA's translator program and skimming them over at her leisure. She casually sauntered back over to her cousins while reading the last one she gathered.
"... Of course I had heard that humans had interesting opinions on us before coming here, but I didn't expect so much attention on myself. I guess human men have similar tastes to nisi men after all" Bykata was saying to her sister with a shrug, now towards the end of the conversation. "You think they'd go crazy if I wore a swimsuit to the next big meeting? That would certainly make things more interesting" she continued, making a vague motion with a hand to her more Feminine assets. She then glanced over and noticed Bykosi approaching.
"Kosi, are we done here yet? I am so bored" Bykata asked her cousin.
"Kata, I told you to try to be a bit more professional, didn't I? It wouldn't look good on us if we left so early" Bykosi responded, shaking her head. "... Besides, I think something interesting might happen soon anyway" she then added after a pause in a hinting tone, her eyes darting over to the group of children hiding away.
Bykata glanced over there, a little confused at first, but her tail flicked around as the gears turned in her head. "... You have something in mind, Kosi?" Bykata muttered quietly.
"Just try not to embarrass us" Bykosi muttered back in a tone that seemed to audibly suggest a playful wink. "I'll be getting some work done" she continued, glancing her eyes briefly towards the Martian ambassador and the Grand Confederacy's ambassador. Turning and walking towards them, Bykosi looked down at her PDA and went to the messaging program, typing something in while silently mouthing her lips, adopting a frustrated expression on her face; doing her best to make it look like she was preoccupied with that, she ended up stepping next to Acoatl, while slightly angling one of her ears towards the two ambassadors, trying to overhear anything with her acute nisi senses.
Meanwhile, Bykata moved over to the group of hiding kids, seeing Koruuna step over and start to speak to them. Bykata had to think fast, what was that fish alien's name again? Oh sod it; she slipped her mask off and clipped it to her side on her belt as she stopped a few feet away. "Ambassador! What a surprise" Bykata said in a faux friendly tone, giving a wide grin and a good show of her fangs while at it. "Would you care to join us? These children wanted me to explain what combat in a space fighter is like" she lied rather casually, motioning a hand at the group.
"GrrrhhEAAAHHH!!" Mesi screamed in complaint after the vague announcement, her ears pinned down sideways. She was wearing what was essentially overalls, which were fairly worn from use in mechanical work, while sitting at the far end of the row of chairs, on top of her luggage, which was basically just her unfinished power armor, her shotgun, her tools, some other clothes, and little else. "Mesi want off planet now! Now now now! Nobody tell Mesi planet bad gas!" she cried, sounding a bit frantic.
She then suddenly paused, pupils thinning as she looked over at one of the walls, her ears focused on it. "That air hissing? Mesi just imagining?" Mesi muttered, then hastily grabbed a breathing mask that was hanging at her side and put it on extremely fast in a clearly very practiced motion. She then started hyperventilating into it, seemingly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
edited 2nd Jan '18 7:26:49 PM by FirockFinion
Azunn — GNHQ, Mars
Azunn had felt strangely invigorated today. 50 years of the Galactic Nations was a major milestone, and in some ways felt like a new beginning. He could still remember the first time he had seen the imposing black edifice jutting into the Martian Antarctic sky. It had reminded him of the Neo-Ascetic style of architecture popular for government buildings on Uabarr, all polished surfaces and spotless glass. It was one way, among several, that it reminded him of home. The presentations and speech had felt like they had gone by quickly, and Azunn even spent a few minutes looking at some of the stands now set up on the 4th floor. The most memorable in his opinion was one child's valiant attempt to create a macaroni portrait of Representative Suki Takeshi. Whilst examining a painstakingly made diorama of the 4th floor by a human child - complete with tiny presentations being made by equally tiny children models - he took note of the Martian and Grand Confederate ambassador's animated discussion.
Speaking of the Representative... His sensitive ears could not help but pick up the poor Free Colonies ambassador's predicament. Gently tapping Cinder on the shoulder, he whispered, "Could you help the Representative? I've unfortunately got other business to attend to. Take Talons with you." The white furred Kellsaran nodded, while Talons - who looked vaguely comical next to her charge thanks to being rather short - silently joined the Chief of Staff's side.
That left Azunn with Silverpaw, a chipper Kell who had an arm replaced with a wholly cybernetic one from the shoulder down. He wore it like a badge of honour (for it was one), its surface polished and cleaned to perfection, complementing his perfectly tailored suit and well fitted shoes. He was both a member of his staff and a bodyguard. Of course, it would take a truly stupid or bold attacker to try attacking now of all days, but that's why Azunn was wearing a shieldweave suit and Silverpaw wore powered under-armour beneath his own suit.
"So, where're we going?" asked Silverpaw, his cheerful tone almost infectious as he patted Azunn on the shoulder.
"I'd like to know what the Martian and Confederate ambassadors are trying to hide from us," replied Azunn. "And it seems like we're not alone, either." Though the crowd had made it difficult, both men could see the Imperium and Savages' ambassadors straight ahead. Silverpaw simply hummed in the affirmative and helped Azunn make his way through the mob without drawing too much attention to themselves. However, Azunn didn't get as close to the secretive diplomats as Acoatl and Bykosi. Clearing his throat once he was close enough to the duo, he said - not too loudly - "Ah, hello! Enjoying the proceedings? 50 years is certainly an achievement, at least...!" Under his mask, Silverpaw smiled and offered a small wave.
Hopefully they'll realise I'm trying to help them...
Cinder — GNHQ, Mars
Cinder, much to her discomfort, was not easy to miss. Towering over most people in the room and dressed in a loose fuchsia robe fitted over a black bodysuit, the white fur of her tail and lower jaw was clear to see, an unmistakable indicator of being ex-CBRN Squadron. If she had a Mark it wasn't immediately obvious. However, she had long hours of practice hiding such feelings, and she didn't want to alarm the children whose work she was appraising and complimenting. She made a special effort to pay attention to those whose efforts weren't drawing quite so many people. Truth be told, Cinder enjoyed being with children most of the time; she had a knack for taking care of them, or at least that's what her friends and colleagues who had children said. She was interrupted by Azunn's tap on the shoulder. Nodding, she apologised to the children and stepped away from the stands, accompanied by Talons.
Talons' Markname was just as direct as the woman herself: her artificial legs ended in metallic claws that sounded distinctly different on the floor to the shoes of the other visitors. She too was wearing powered under-armour, though even without it she would have made an intimidating opponent. "Looks like it's up to us, huh?"
"Yes," said Cinder. Her voice was quiet and yet uncannily clear and smooth, lacking the modulation that Kell vocoders typically applied. "Please let me deal with this first, though."
"Tch, you're no fun!" Behind her mask Talons rolled her eyes good-naturedly, a smirk forming on her lips. "But you're the boss!"
Cinder watched the hapless Representative as she made a brave go at looking interested at Proola's latest rambling on all matters financial. Though Cinder - and many other inhabitants of the galaxy - held no love for the Yohzhu Empire, she didn't let it colour her opinions of the Free Colonies. "Excuse me," she began. "I hope I haven't interrupted something important, but Representative Takeshi has an urgent matter to discuss with me." She smiled warmly. "I hope you understand, Ambassador Gutta."
Erruan — Neptune Station, Waiting Room
The trip through customs had been uneventful enough, though the bored Yaha had become slightly less so when she saw what was inside some of the cases (mercifully a quick look at Erruan's permits had cleared everything up). The waiting room was as soulless and spirit crushing as the rest of the station had been. It was mostly silent aside from the occasional tinny clang as one customer service robot bumped into another or an equally tinny canned query or answer from said robots, once or twice to thin air or a random object in the room. Occasionally this rather depressing symphony was enlivened by two robots blurting out their pre-recorded speech simultaneously upon colliding. But on the whole Erruan could feel the life being sucked out of her, and it seemed like the room's other occupants felt similarly. The only relief from the boredom was the TV, but it was apparently a slow news day - she had seen the same 4 stories so often that she could predict word for word what the news anchor would say next. It was as though the waiting room had been meticulously engineered from the ground up by some petty mad scientist to maximise the stultifying atmosphere. She was pretty sure that she knew what Tafri was like now, and it came in the form of a waiting room.
Slumped in one of the chairs like a particularly furry sack of potatoes, she perked up as the PA announced the CSS Horizon's arrival... and immediately deflated again as the automated announcer gave a spectacularly unhelpful estimated time of arrival that wasn't really an estimate at all. Although her muzzle twitched, Erruan managed to successfully stave off the urge to groan loudly at the situation. Her fellow priso - er, passengers agreed.
The rather uncomfortable looking nisi, however, seemed to start panicking. Looking around the room to see how the others reacted, she leaned over and said, "Uh... is everything alright?"
Headcase — Neptune Station, Waiting Room
Headcase, for her part, had made a beeline for the vending machine once it was free. The siren call of cheap snacks was too much to resist. And who cared if they might not have been the most nutritious or healthy? You had to live a little! And she could always work off the calories later... the decision was almost unconscious. More challenging, however, was picking which snack to have. The Kell prevaricated between "Asteroids", a crisps brand that promised "astronomical flavour with every bite", and "Golden Beams", whose packaging and colourful mascot seemed to suggest that the toffee - plainly visible through a transparent portion of the wrapper - was being fired from a cartoon laser gun. On the one hand, the crisps just so happened to be one of her favourite flavours (ketchup). On the other hand, Headcase wanted something sweet, too. There were sweets akin to toffee on Kellsara, but from what she had heard the human version was extraordinarily sweet.
Eventually the desire for something new won out, and soon Headcase watched eagerly as the vending machine got to work. A truly ancient design, it still used the revolving coil system to dispense its products. Except... the coil stopped just as the Golden Beams bar hovered tantalisingly close to the precipice. "Oh, come on!" she groaned, pressing her face against the glass. The Kell stared for a few moments longer, as though that might somehow let her will the bar to drop down into the dispenser. She was vaguely aware of the announcement and some sort of commotion behind her, but Headcase spared it only the briefest glance. She had to do something about this first, and then she could turn her attention to whatever was happening.
Headcase gave her harness a furtive look. Of course, she was no vending machine engineer, but surely a little percussive maintenance couldn't hurt, right? With an almost silent whirr her harness's right arm tapped the glass of the vending machine. The coil remained stubbornly stuck. Headcase thought about hitting it harder, but she wasn't quite willing to draw the ire of the station's staff, as apathetic as they were. Instead, she wheeled to face one of the customer service bots. The bot, for its part, had been busy trying to fly through the nearby wall to no success. "Excuse me, but the vending machine's stuck. I paid money for that Golden Beams bar, y'know."
edited 5th Jan '18 12:37:16 PM by Flanker66
Away from the children and more puritanical adults in the room, Ambassador Munbeem was mostly in the company of other embassies' staff, though notably, Ambassador Lagduf Orgol of the Star Pact was also there. He laughed heartily at the Woglindian ambassador's anecdote. "Oh, how tremendously droll!" he said. "I do so enjoy hearing these stories about life among the common folks! Say what you will about the plebeians of the galaxy, they certainly do know how to live interesting lives, eh?" He chuckled, and a few of the staff members around him laughed along, albeit rather uncomfortably.
Meanwhile, the Martian ambassador and the Grand Confederacy's ambassador continued their discussion, unaware of the eavesdroppers near by... for now. Given the noise of all the people around, and the hushed tone of the conversation, it is nearly impossible to make out exactly what is being said. Words like "cooperate", "sovereign" and "vote" come up with some prominence, however. Given the context, one might reasonably be able to guess that the Martian ambassador and the Grand Confederacy's ambassador are surreptitiously attempting to coordinate their votes. While this is not against the rules of the GN General Assembly, it is sometimes frowned upon, especially by members of the press and the general public. Ambassadors are supposed to represent the interests and agendas of their respective countries after all, and not everyone appreciates the delicate art of compromise and deal-making.
This arrangement - if indeed that is what is going on - would not be terribly surprising to anyone familiar with the state of galactic politics. Mars was a major force for the GC's membership, after all, to say nothing of the lobbying Martian diplomats undertook to get the GC recognized as a sovereign nation in the first place. Canny diplomats might further surmise that, given that the only thing left on today's agenda was possibly the most inoffensive resolution ever, this coordination effort was taking place in advance, meaning one of them - likely Mars - had plans to put forward a new resolution, at some point. One that might need the early support of a close ally...
But this is all supposition. Perhaps they're actually talking about something else entirely?
In yet another area, a female Human child poked her head out from under a table. "Who dares to trespass on the ground of mighty Fort Tranquili- oh!" She seemed very surprised to see an adult before her. "Uh, hi miss! No, we're not lost! We're just, um, playing."
A Quenos boy poked his head out next, saw the Ashkathi ambassador, gasped a bit, and turned to the Human female with a sharp whisper. "That's no 'miss'! That's a ambassador!"
"I know that!" the girl whispered back.
A Visst female poked her three heads out next. "What's going on, guys?" She sensed the presence of the ambassador, and angled her heads up to "look" at her. "Uh oh," she said. "Are we in trouble?"
It was right about then that the Nisi ambassador arrived. The three children exchanged confused looks - a slight adjustment of the right head, in the Visst girl's case - then looked up at the grinning Nisi with a mix of puzzlement and curiosity.
Ambassador Chaeset D'Nera, of the Izeran Empire, seemed greatly relieved to see Apostle Zain. "Ah, Apostle! Wonderful to see you as always. I was just just telling these children about how business at the GN usually proceeds! Admittedly, not the most riveting stuff..."
The near by mix of Theran, Human and Gashtor children all looked immensely bored.
"But it's nonetheless important that young people learn about civics in the galaxy! Though, if you'll excuse us...?" He turned to the teacher standing near by, who promptly shepherded the kids away.
Returning his attention to his colleague, Ambassador D'Nera smiled. "So, something I can do for you, Apostle? Enjoying the festivities?"
"This is, of course, purely hypothetical," said Ambassador Gerey Robern, of Wassingtowne Union, frowning deeply.
"Of course," replied Ambassador Zentri Zera Awag, of the Mighty Amalah Nation, clacking his claws together. "Merely a thought experiment. And given what I have told you, you must concede-"
"Nothing," interjected Ambassador Melacaura Genisatia, of the Infinite Burrow. "We must concede nothing at all."
"So then you do believe in submission?" queried the Amalah.
"It is not submission, but a voluntary sacrifice..." retorted the Visst, grinding the teeth of his left head.
"Semantics, good ambassador," said the Amalah.
Catching a glimpse of him out of the corner of his eye, the Quenos ambassador turned to the Helderseun ambassador. "Ah, Apostle Segro, perhaps you could settle something for us," said Ambassador Robern. "We are debating the nature of sovereignty, and its relationship to international law..."
"We are debating whether or not conquest and war are inherent rights of all nation-states," growled Ambassador Genisatia. "And whether or not any law declaring war illegal has any validity."
"As I said," said Ambassador Zera Awag, with a click-clack of his claws. "Semantics."
"What? Oh, uh, yes, quite. Alright then." Ambassador Gutta visibly rippled at the interruption, but made no protest and politely excused himself, sliding off towards the snack bar.
Representative Takeshi gave a sigh of relief once Ambassador Gutta was out of earshot. She looked up at her savior with a smile. "Many thanks, Chief Cinder," she said. "I know Ambassador Gutta means well, but he can be... awfully intense, at times. What was it you wanted to discuss?"
The human female grinned. "Definitely Yohzhu drugs," she said. "Some might try and tell you it's faulty wiring or a software glitch, but don't believe them. They're just in on it."
"Oh, I, um, oh," stammered the Visst. She raised her heads up the the full height of her necks and angled her faces downwards, managing to sort of "glare" at Tyoni and his cameras. "You- you can't just start recording people without their permission! It's - it's very rude, you know!"
The human female gently patted her on her side. "There, there, Ninu," she said. "I'm sure he doesn't mean any harm..."
The customer service droid nearest to Xaltozan stopped its little patrol to address him. "This is a strictly- strictly- strictly- strictlystrictlystrictlystrictlystrictly-" the droid paused. "In the event of a fire, simply yell 'fire alarm' and the automated fire suppression system will engage. At which point-" the droid paused abruptly again, and there was an audible 'click' from inside it. "The room will fill with carbon dioxide, suffocating the flames. Delicious!"
The droid begins to float away, resuming its path. It's unclear if the fire suppression system would actually engage if any smoke was detected... But perhaps that's not a risk worth taking?
A different customer service droid zipped over to Mesi. "Please remain calm," it said. "This unit is fully equipped to answer all queries regarding atmospheric decompression, gaseous contamination, medical emergencies and customer dissatisfaction. Please remain calm," it said. "Please remain calm. Please remain calm. Please remain calm. Please remain calm. Please remain calm...."
The bot that Headcase had addressed needed a few extra seconds of attempting - and inevitably failing - to phase through the solid wall before it registered that it had been addressed. Slightly dented from its efforts, it turned to Headcase. "Of course," it said. "Filing a ticket with maintenance now. You are number... ONE... in the queue. Waiting time is approximately... ERROR - SERVER OFFLINE... Thank you, and have a nice day." And with that, it resumed its path. After about three more collisions, it abruptly turned 90 degrees and floated away.
Somewhere, deep with the station, there was a minor fluctuation in the artificial gravity. This sent minor vibrations through the station's superstructure, and while nobody else on the station would notice this, Headcase would. Her pack of toffee trembled ever-so-slightly, and - very slowly - began to slip free of the coil that had trapped it. Slowly, slowly, millimeters at a time... and then, at last, it fell!
And yet, there was no satisfying sound of cheap snacks hitting the receiving tray. The coil, damnable thing that it is, had once against trapped the bag, which now hung precipitously on its very edge, gently swinging back and forth. Perhaps just a little, tiny percussion could sway the fate of Headcase's snack? But then again, the customs agent was still near by, and likely wouldn't take kindly to anyone smacking the vending machine...
edited 5th Jan '18 3:24:18 PM by Blackfire667
[Mars] Galactic Nations Headquarters—Fourth Floor
Acoatl took note of the Nisi consultant coming to stand alongside him and acknowledged her with a nod, seeing that she was apparently engrossed in whatever data was scrolling across the surface of her device. Of course, appearances were often deceptive, and Acoatl had not risen to his current position by failing to notice the small details—details like one of the consultant’s ears being angled in the same direction that he himself happened to be glancing.
It could have been a coincidence, of course. Perhaps he was simply reading too much into an innocent, involuntary gesture. But considering that the Savages of Jotun weren’t far from the Imperium, astronomically speaking, and would likewise consider Mars to be their closest southeastern neighbour, perhaps that gesture wasn’t innocent at all…
A voice called out to him then. He turned his head towards its source, and the cartilaginous portions of his beak flexed in an approximation of a smile. “Ah, Ambassador Berreil—and Consultant Scarslayer,” he added. “Forgive me, I didn’t see you there.” Now he turned his entire body to face the three of them, positioning himself in such a way that he’d be able to keep the Martian and Confederate ambassadors in his field of view without, hopefully, being too obvious about it. “And yes, fifty years is quite an achievement. Look around us, after all.” He swept out an arm, his black mantle falling open to reveal part of his ceremonial armour and nanomesh bodyglove in the process. “I daresay that we would never have seen such a gathering fifty years ago. That so many of our young can mingle here today is a testament to the prosperity that the Galactic Nations has brought our peoples.”
At that moment his bodyguard leaned in and whispered into his ear. “She’s on her way.”
The pigment of Acoatl’s feathers shifted from pink to green. He dismissed her with a nod, smiling once more, and raised his glass. “Would the two of you care to join me in a toast?”
Xaltozan gave the droid a flat look as it drifted away, then shook his head and let out a chuff. “Cheap piece of shit…”
He was halfway tempted to pry open the stupid thing’s casing and start tinkering with its innards until it was working properly, but he didn’t for two reasons. First, he doubted the customs agent would approve of him messing with station property—and even though he could just eat her and be done with it, getting thrown in the brig wasn’t worth whatever scant satisfaction it might bring. Second, given the way that all the robots were acting faulty, he suspected that the problem was more back-end than front-end; fixing that one droid would be treating the symptom, not the cause.
Sighing, he stuffed the pack of lho-sticks back into his pack. No sense in taking the risk: even if the fire system didn’t engage, the smoke would probably set off an alarm—and the room was already loud enough, between that chatty Dotur and the screeching Nisi. Add the robots into the mix, and he was starting to get a headache.
He could really go for a smoke right about now.
Xaltozan rolled an eye toward that Ashkathi who’d spoken a moment ago. He shrugged, the gesture accompanied by a faint whirr. “Obviously the point is to piss people off. It’s all part of the hiring process: they see who gets mad, they know who’s not cut out for the job.” As he spoke, Xaltozan reached into his bag once more and pulled out a hydrospanner, which he began to toss up and down with his right hand. “It’s all about seeing who keeps calm under pressure, and who cracks like an eggshell.”
Despite his calm tone, his feathers had begun to bristle ever so subtly, and a faint ticking sound betrayed the fact that he was tapping one of his talons on the floor.
[Mars] Galactic Nations Headquarters, Parking
“I wasn’t expecting it to be this crowded,” Miss Ahuic said to the driver as she peered out the window. “I can’t see a single empty parking space…”
“It’s the fiftieth anniversary of the GN’s founding, milady,” said the driver. “They’ve invited quite a few hatchlings to celebrate the occasion.”
Meztli perked up at that. “Hatchlings?” there would be children her age around? She wouldn’t have to spend all her time around stuffy adults (excepting her father, of course)? This day just kept getting better and better!
Miss Ahuic glanced at her. “Milady, many of these children will be commoners. I’d advise you not to mingle with them; their slovenliness might rub off and tarnish you.”
“But that’s no fun!” Meztli said with a pout.
“You aren’t here to have fun,” Miss Ahuic replied. “You’re here to visit your father.”
Meztli pouted. Having fun and seeing her father weren’t mutually exclusive! But Miss Ahuic had that look on her face again, and she knew better than to argue. So she straightened up, folded her hands in her lap, and did her best to put on the mask of a proper daughter of the tlatoque.
For now, anyway.
The diplomatic speeder went up several levels and pulled into a reserved spot. The knights exited first, opening the back doors for Meztli and her tutor, and escorted them to a VIP elevator on the far side of the garage. As they rode the elevator up through the pyramid, serenaded by gentle music, Meztli cast surreptitious glances at the adults. She took a few steps backward so that she was at the rear of the group, slowly so as not to draw their attention. One of the knights was telling Miss Ahuic that the cuahtlatoani—her father!—would be on the fourth floor for most of the day.
“We’ve prepared rooms in His Excellency’s suite on the fifth floor,” the Knight finished. “We’ll take you straight there, and you can get settled in—”
The elevator stopped. Meztli glanced at the door panel, and hid a smile when she saw the number 4 displayed on its screen. The doors slid open, and a huge blob covered with eyes and patches of colourful fabric—a Spaceborne, she recognized—appeared on the other side, burbling to be let in. Beyond him was a seething crowd of children and adults of every species Meztli had ever heard of and more—and somewhere in that crowd, her father was waiting.
The zhur’ryans had to shift around to make room for the new passenger, whose bulk took up what little room was left. He murmured an apology as they reached the fifth floor and oozed off.
Miss Ahuic released a breath she didn’t realize that she’d been holding. “Well then, there you have it, milady: your first encounter with an alien.” She turned her head. “What did you make of that Spaceborne gentle…”
The tutor trailed off. Meztli was nowhere to be seen.
She traded a glance with the captain of the Knights, whose eyes widened behind his helmet’s visor. He slapped the down button and turned to his men as the doors closed. “Fan out as soon as we reach the fourth floor,” he barked. “Find her quickly and quietly! We don’t want to embarrass the cuahtlatoani…”
Koruuna chuckled, an oddly croaky laugh, but still friendly-sounding nonetheless. She knelt so that she was at eye level with the children, shaking her head.
"No, you're not in trouble. It's cute," Koruuna told them. "Where is the rest of your class?" When the Nisi spoke up, Koruuna stood and looked her over.
"Ah yes, Miss Scarslayer," Koruuna greeted. "It is good to see you." She visibly winced a little bit at the suggestion that she show the children what combat in a starship was like. "Do you not think that is a bit much for children this young?"
Maros looked towards Xaltozan and was about to respond, but as soon as he saw the Nisi becoming distressed, he stood and walked over to her rather quickly, putting an arm gently towards her.
"Breathe, breathe, deep breaths, it's okay..." Maros insisted to the woman, trying to sound calming. "You're safe here. There's no hissing in the walls. Everything is fine." He looked her over. "What happened? Are you all right?" he asked, once she had calmed down a little more to listen to him.
edited 6th Jan '18 1:49:28 PM by AllHailThrall
"Huh?" Bykosi muttered in genuine surprise, looking up and over from her PDA as Acoatl and Azunn spoke to her. "Oh, uh, ambassador, I didn't expect you to know who I am" she said in an embarrassed tone to Acoatl, turning her ears to the side. Which also 'conveniently' kept one of them pointed towards the two ambassadors in the corner.
"Secei Berreil, it's an honor to meet you" Bykosi then addressed Azunn in particular, giving him a quick, respectful bow. "Um, I'm sorry, you two are probably looking for my cousin. I was busy so I took my leave; the ambassador is somewhere back that way" she went on, motioning towards the other side of the room.
Over that way, Bykata rolled her eyes at Koruuna's response. "No, I don't" Bykata answered in a dark tone, dropping the faux politeness for a moment. "The proper protection of a country relies on good soldiers. The younger they get started, they more skilled they'll be later. At their age I was already getting used to flying fighter craft, and it wasn't much later in life that I became matriarch of my family" she continued, bringing the politeness back.
"... Oh, but perhaps that's a bit too unruly for your tastes? A bit, uncivilized? Or..." Bykata trailed off, giving the big grin with her fangs again, seemingly daring Koruuna to say it.
"Nothing alright! Mesi not calm until Mesi off planet!" Mesi complained at Erruan and the robot, throwing a fast kick out at the latter; it missed anyway though. "Mesi need away from poison gas. It find way in. Not take Mesi. Not like others" the nisi muttered, her body swaying a bit as she looked light headed.
"You're right, it is rude!" Tyoni said, joining the Visst, Ninu, in indignation. He hopped up and down, Woglindian obliviousness to the concept of personal space in full display as he came close to hitting Ninu in her heads while he made eye contact at eye level with each one.
"They got security cameras here and there and everywhere recording what we do! We live in a society that has acquiesced to total, non-stop, surveillance! What happened to the right to privacy? When did our collective conscience demand that we bare everything to some unseen security we never met? And our own devices, who knows what they keep recording and transmitting back to the big corporations! Oh, they say they don't do it anymore, but they're always loopholes and stuff. We're, like, selling our souls - no, we bought these knowing what would happen! We paid them to take our souls!"
From Tyoni's travels he had learned that many of those security cameras were inoperational, sometimes intentionally so. Just the thought that they were being watched was usually enough to discourage minor peeps from doing things like graffitiing walls of busting up vending machines. But who needed to know that?
A nisi across the room causing a ruckus caught Tyoni's attention. "Flip flying ravioli is going on over there?"
Munbeem laughed too. Loudly to hide his annoyance that Orgal's boorishness ruined the mood of his audience as well as at the Star Pact's ambassador's classist remark.
"And you would know too!" Munbeem said between laughs. "Wasn't it your grandpa who was so out of touch with civilized people he thought a Sirian swimming pool was the Fountain of Youth?"
He turned more eyes in the directions of staff members. "True story," began, "Back when these people were first figuring out the world was round, his grandfather and his retinue came to the Sirian compound on the planet and saw the cleanest water they had ever laid eyes on. Crystal clear, smooth surfaced, untouched by dirty hands. There can only be one explanation: That was the Fountain of Youth. So like a pack of crazed animals they rush over to the edge and dunk their heads in, lapping it up like their lives depended on it. Suddenly, the chlorine kicks in, and they're all like: 'Ah, I'm dying inside! It was poison! We're all doomed!'
Munbeem waved his tentacles and adopted a shrill falsetto to give his impression of Orgal's drama queen ancestors. "Suddenly this Kell pops out and starts shouting at them - I don't remember what she said, probably 'Hey, don't drink my stuff!' - and I guess this was the first time they'd seen one because they're all like: 'Water demon! Sacrifice the slowest! Fastest one lives!' and they all take off like there's no tomorrow, leaving the compound staff to drain the damn pool because nobody wants to swim in Medieval germs!"
Galactic Nations' Headquarters
Apostle Zain smiled at Ambassador Chaeset D'Nera. "Ah, yes, I've enjoyed the festivities immensely." Indeed he had, though as usual Segro had been unreadable. "May I inquire as to what exactly you were teaching the children? And it is important that the children learn of civics," he continued, in that special chattering way of his. "After all, we were all children once. Would you like a drink?"
Apostle Segro, meanwhile, looked sombre, as he often did.
"Ah, that old dilemma. Well, since you have asked me, I suppose I shall lay out my views." He paused for a second, then continued. "War is, in essence, unstoppable. Except, of course, with more war, or, as is preferable, diplomacy. One of our goals is to use diplomacy to its best, to stop things like wars. However, with words alone, we cannot enforce our rules. Perhaps if we had a unified force, what on old Earth they called peacekeepers." Segro waved a hand vaguely. "We would not have to use it, of course, in every instance. Simply its existence would be enough in many cases. As for conquest, and whether we have any right to it, I believe, under our current ways, perhaps we do not. No, conquest is indeed no longer our right as it once might have been. However, once again, we need a way to enforce such things."
Riley moaned quietly to himself, mourning the loss of his brain, which, if his migraine was any indication, would soon be liquid in his skull.
"Hey, guys, no offense or anything, but can you keep it down? This place ain't that bad," he said, just loud enough for the other people in the room to hear. "I guarantee you, if there's any poison gas in here, panicking will just make you take it in faster, y'know." He slumped in his seat again, one hand to his forehead.
With his experience it didn't take long for Azunn to pick up on the implications of what the Martian and Grand Confederate ambassadors were discussing. It seemed probable to him that the Martian ambassador would table a new motion. But what might that motion be...? He wracked his memory for any obvious choices even as he smoothly continued his conversation without missing a beat.
"Thank you," he said airily to Bykosi, sparing a quick glance in Bykata's direction. "But it appears that she's busy right now, and - well - I believe it's the right thing to talk to ambassadorial staff on occasion. They're valued members of any team, and too often they're treated as accessories or furniture." A small, easygoing grin split his lips. "Though, of course, I'm sure that your cousin wouldn't dream of doing that!"
"And aptly put, Cuahtlatoani. I would gladly join you in a toast, as soon as..." Azunn looked searchingly around himself, just as Silverpaw returned to his side, proffering a glass of alcohol for the Sirian ambassador. Eyes lighting up, Azunn accepted it with a whispered thank you and returned his attention to the other two. "Well, never mind that, I suppose. You'll have to forgive Silverpaw, he can be surprisingly light on his feet when he wants to be!" He chuckled warmly. "Please, when you're ready."
"Truth be told..." Cinder looked away for the briefest of moments. "...I actually didn't have something urgent to discuss with you. I'm sorry, Representative Takeshi. However, if there's anything you would like me to address acting on behalf of Kellsara, please tell me. I would of course have to run it past Secei Berreil."
Erruan — Neptune Station
Erruan hopped away in her seat from the panicking nisi. Regrettably, she just wasn't equipped to help her - and it looked like the Ashkathi had it all under control anyway. Though she didn't say anything in response to Xaltozan's words, she nodded in agreement.
Or at least she hoped this was just some sort of way to weed out those who couldn't hack it. The alternative was much worse.
Headcase — Neptune Station
"Hmph." Headcase frowned beneath her mask at the robot's completely unhelpful response. It seemed like she was stuck, then. But it was at that moment that fate intervened. Her heart soared with the pack of toffee... only to plunge as the infernal machine ended up snagging the snack once more. The temptation was too much to resist - she just had to do something! And the Kell had a plan, too.
Stepping as close to the vending machine as space would allow, Headcase made a show of seeming to realise something was wrong just as one of her harness's arms darted out to tap the vending machine firmly. Biting back a curse, she pretended to force the limb back to the idle position. "Troublesome thing, I swear some day I'll have to get it replaced!"
All the while she kept one eye on the tantalisingly close treat...
In his younger days, the lack of deference that Consultant Bykosi showed Acoatl might have rankled him. To an extent it still did, but he’d been at the game too long to let such mild annoyance show. It was only natural, after all; he was well aware of the shared history between the Sirians and the Nisi, and the greater respect she showed to Ambassador Berreil was to be expected.
Still smiling, he waved off her confusion. “Ambassador Berreil has the right of it, Consultant. And besides,” here he clicked his beak, the zhur’ryan equivalent of a chuckle, “I’d be a poor fit for this position if I didn’t try to learn the names of the people I work with.”
At Berreil’s remark, Acoatl nodded. “Thank you, Ambassador. To the fifty years of prosperity we have enjoyed, and to fifty years more.” His long arm extended toward the Sirian ambassador, ready to complete the toast…
Xaltozan shrugged as the Ashkathi got up and left. “Whatever floats your boat, I guess.” If nothing else, maybe the amphibian would help those other clowns shut that Nisi up. Her caterwauling had died down a bit, thank the gods, but if all this noise kept up he might stop tossing his hydrospanner up in the air and start putting it to more… percussive uses.
Of course, that would just land him in the brig.
He frowned, catching the hydrospanner in his hand. Neptune Station must have been getting to him; he usually didn’t think about things that could get himself thrown in a brig this frequently. “The sooner we shove off, the better,” he muttered.
Xaltozan found himself nodding when that helderseun spoke up—finally, somebody with some sense around here—but otherwise didn’t react, and he went right back to tapping a claw on the floor and tossing his hydrospanner up in the air.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap…
Meztli was starting to have second thoughts about giving Miss Ahuic the slip.
She’d never seen this many people in her life. Not all in one room, at least: the staff at her family’s estate was big, made of dozens, maybe hundreds of people, but you never saw them all at once. And they were all, without exception, zhur’rya. This, on the other hand, was so much more varied. She’d seen many of the beings here in slates and holos during her studies, but as she’d told Miss Ahuic less than an hour ago, knowing what something looked like and actually seeing it were two very different things.
There were so many of them! Beings with scales, fur, bare skin; beings with two eyes, ten eyes, or no eyes at all; beings with more than four limbs or more than one head. So few had the three eyes or feathers that she was familiar with. And the sound of them all! It was like being down on a beach, listening to the waves break over her.
The unfamiliarity of it all was overwhelming, a little scary even. But at the same time, it was also exciting.
She moved through the crowd, looking around at all the displays and all the strange and colourful fashions these people wore. She watched as children tried to impress the adults with what they’d learned, and some of the things she saw made her eyes widen and her down ruffle with amazement. And when she laid eyes on what she knew to be a dotur, she could barely restrain her glee. They really did look just like her stuffed tochtli, just standing upright and with one less pair of legs!
Then she noticed a dark shape out of the corner of her eye, and her glee wavered as she looked back.
Her father’s Knights were moving through the crowd, and they were obviously looking for her. She couldn’t let them find her; she’d be in so much trouble! She had to hide.
She looked around, and spotted something that might do the trick. Off in a corner, half-hidden behind what looked like a four-legged, tentacle-less ocelot standing on its hind legs and wearing a pretty dress—a Nisi—and a big, grey-skinned, blue-spotted and big-eyed being that reminded Meztli of some of the things that swam in the palace pond—an Ashkathi, she believed—was a set of bunched-up tables. And under those tables, poking their heads out, were a bunch of kids.
She made her way over there, quickly but not too quickly, and tried to slip around the two adults, who seemed more focused on each other than the kids who were looking up at them. To the nearest kid, a human female, Meztli whispered, “Please forgive our interruption, but might we share your hiding place?”
edited 12th Jan '18 6:19:34 PM by SullenFrog
Orgol balked at the Woglindian ambassador's story, as the various staff members around him tried to hold back their snickering. "Well I never!" he said, evidently quite flustered. "That is a total mischaracterization of events! My grandfather was a noble man and I... I will not have his good name besmirched!" He stands tall, his chest inflated. "I must insist you apologize! This instant!”
“Oh, I'd love a drink, thank you,” said Ambassador D'Nera. “Though, as I said, I was teaching the children about how business at the GN usually proceeds. The procedure of drafting, tabling, debating and finally voting on a resolution, and doing so properly!” He straightened out his jacket. “R-601 – that is, what we'll be voting on after this recess is over – hardly qualifies as a proper example of our regular proceedings. You know, given how simplistic it is, and all...”
Nobody seemed terribly pleased with Apostle Segro's opinion, and the grim expressions on the faces of the various ambassadors only became moreso. Their impasse, it seemed, was not going anywhere.
“I must take issue with this,” said Ambassador Genisatia, of the Infinite Burrow. “War can very much be halted, though I don't understand how more war could possibly be a solution.”
“I'm not sure I share your confidence,” said Ambassador Robern, of Wassingtowne Union, glancing over at his Visst counterpart. “Though, I do agree that further conflict hardly seems like an effective means of reducing conflicts, and there are certainly other ways of enforcing international law. Trade embargoes or sanctions, for instance.” He stroked his chin. “Although, a permanent peacekeeping force does intrigue me...”
“An occupation force,” interjected Ambassador Zera Awag, of the Mighty Amalah Nation. “Just, one with a nicer name and a more familiar face. Few things tend to last as long as a 'temporary' foreign military force, international or otherwise. As for the rights of nations, any curtailing is tantamount to surrender. Are we vassals of the GN now?”
“Don't be absurd,” growled Ambassador Genisatia. “One cannot have absolute freedom while living in a society, and we now live as a society of nations!”
“The individual surrenders to the state,” argued Ambassador Zera Awag. “But there ought not be a higher authority than that.”
“Ah, yes, I see,” said Representative Takeshi, nodding. “A selfless act, then! Once more, you have my thanks.” She paused, then, and thought. “Speaking of selflessness, though,” she said, looking up at Cinder with a bright expression. “Perhaps I could trouble you to talk to the good ambassador about a long-term foreign assistance program? My people – that is, we in the Free Colonies – are a resilient bunch, but, well, there's only so much we can manage on our own, our resources being what they are...”
She hesitated for a moment, then continued. “Though, by some estimates, we will be in an ideal position for economic independence in a little under a decade! And I'm sure I don't need to tell you that another strong economy added to the galaxy can only be a good thing! So, you see, we are not a charity case, but rather, an investment!” She stopped herself, then smiled rather sheepishly. “Sorry for the sales pitch, but... will you tell the ambassador?”
The Martian and Grand Confederacy ambassadors abruptly and hastily parted ways; it seems their conversation had reached its natural conclusion.
A few moments later, the Martian ambassador happened to catch sight of the little group near by, and headed over to them. Or perhaps the ambassador is more canny than he let on? Either way, he approached Ambassador Tzahualli, Ambassador Berreil and Consultant Bykata with a smile and a general warmth.
“Friends, friends,” says the Martian ambassador, who has always insisted on simply going by 'Ambassador Tebigon' in lieu of something more formal. “I trust you are all doing well? This is truly a momentous day, is it not? Ah, and so many bright, young minds all around. It brings a tear to my eye! Truly wonderful.” He chuckles.
A fluffy newcomer approached mighty Fort Tranquility, and its commander was quick to respond. “Of course!” whispered the human girl. “Come on in! Quick!”
While the adults were busy, the children retreated back under the table, the Quenos boy reaching up and pulling on a tablecloth that was messily folded up above them, creating a curtain, of sorts, between them and the adults.
“Hi!” said the girl, in a hushed voice. “I'm Sasha, this is Chuck,” she pointed to the Quenos boy. “And this is Sila,” she pointed to the Visst girl.
“Welcome to Fort tranquility, our super-cool hideout! I know it doesn't look like much, but trust me! It's cool!” Sasha continued, enthusiastically but quietly. “What's your name, by the way?”
Ninu's three heads recoiled with a start, her backwards-bending necks suddenly invading Xaltozan's personal space and bumping his spanner out of the air. One of the heads quickly turned around. “Oh! So sorry! Very sorry!” Ninu said, hurriedly.
The human female chuckled. “Slow down there, Conspiracy Jones,” she said to the hopping dotur. “I think she was talking about your cameras, specifically.” She scratched her nose. “Who are you, anyway?”
She then lazily glanced over her shoulder, and slowly shook her head at the panicking Nisi a couple of seats back. “Man, some people just can't handle space-travel...”
Unfazed by the kick that had nearly sent it careening across the room, the customer service drone hovering near Mesi continued to try and reassure her in its own limited, glitchy way. “Please remain calm,” it continued, endlessly. “Please remain calm, please remain calm, please remain calm, please remain calm...” Finally, it paused, saying “It appears that you do not wish to remain calm. Please be advised that Customs Department officials have the full authority to- to- to- to- to- and furthermore, would you like to know more about the Martian Transport Authority's Guide to Safe Space Travel?”
A customer service drone is, rather suddenly, right next to Erruan's face. They were all rather odd, but this one seemed especially strange.
“Attention, lucky customer,” it said. “Congratulations. You have been chosen, by random lottery, for a free trip to DESTINATION_LIST — SELECT: RANDOM — ERROR:VARIABLE NOT FOUND. This is a limited time offer, brought to you by the Mars Company Lottery Company Vacation Agency Company. Enter your financial information now to claim your prize, or you will be ineligible for future rewards.”
Miraculously, the toffee slipped from its hook! It tumbled though the air, pulled by the station's artificial gravity, and-
Stopped, about half way down, lodged between the glass and another snack.
There was very little friction between the snack's packaging and the glass, however, and slowly... very slowly... oh-so-slowly, the snack began to slip.
“HEY!” the customs agent made her way over to Headcase. “What was that noise? Did you smack the vending machine?” Her four eyes narrowed and fixed Headcase with a suspicious glare. “You did, didn't you?”
"Attention passengers," chimed the uncannily-happy voice of the automated announcement system. "The C.S.S Horizon will arrive in..." There was a lengthy pause. "TEN... Minutes... And... Minutes... The Martian Transport Authority thanks you for your cooperation and wishes you a pleasant day."
edited 12th Jan '18 6:31:33 PM by Blackfire667
[Mars] Galactic Nations
“Ah, Ambassador Tebigon!” said Acoatl. “What a coincidence that you should mention that. Ambassador Berreil, Consultant Bykosi and I were just discussing that very subject. It’s a clear indicator of the good that the Galactic Nations has done for our respective communities since it was founded.”
He spread a long arm in invitation. “In fact, we were just about to drink a toast,” he added, holding up his glass. “Would you care to join us?” The pigment of his cranial feathers slowly cycled from green to pink and back again, the transition as mellow and pleasant as the smile on Acoatl’s beak.
In the meantime, his bodyguard was standing at attention at a discrete distance, keeping an attentive eye on the rest of the crowd. She glanced at Silverpaw, silently sizing him up. No doubt she was wondering who might win if the two ever fought.
Xaltozan’s three eyes went wide as his hydrospanner was knocked off-course by a sudden collision with the back of the Visst’s necks. “Cuitlatl!”
He dove out of his seat. His left arm shot out with a loud ratcheting noise, ceramic-plated fingers closing around the hydrospanner, catching it two feet above the grubby waiting room floor. Xaltozan stood frozen in place for a moment, left arm extended, right hand planted firmly on the floor to support him.
His head slowly turned toward the Visst, blue feathers fanning out in mute irritation. His three-eyed gaze shifted from the Visst itself—who seemed genuinely apologetic—to the small, bouncing, chattering bundle of fur beyond her.
Nictitating membranes descended over his eyes. It didn’t take a tactical genius to figure out what had just happened. “You want to knock that off, fuzz ball?” he asked with a glare.
Such was his annoyance that Xaltozan barely noticed the announcement of the ship’s impending arrival.
Meztli gratefully scurried under the table and smoothed out the hem of her blouse as she sat down. With the tablecloth hiding her from sight, the Knights would never find her now!
She turned to look at the other kids, nodding as Sasha introduced them to her. Sasha, Chuck, Sila… What funny names they had! She might have giggled, but she didn’t want to seem rude. Besides, her own name might seem just as strange to them as theirs did to her.
“My…” She paused, remembering her decorum. “Our name is Meztli. We thank you for your hospitality, Sasha.” She wrapped her arms around her legs, linking her fingers together around her ankles. She looked around at the table legs, smiling. You could almost see this as a fort, and the excitement of the whole situation was rubbing off on her.
“If you’ll forgive our asking, what do you do here in Fort Tranquility?” she asked Sasha.
"But, my friend, I got this from a good source!" Munbeem insisted. Focusing his eyes on the now snickering audience, the ambassador moved on to the next part of his story.
"You see, I know this happened because, about eight or so years ago, I came here for the first time. I wasn't the ambassador back then, I was here for some speech or another. Now, I'm from a space colony called Freyja IV, the fourth of the five Freyja's. Which means we're that second youngest child nobody gives a shit about. Freyja IV is as utilitarian as you can get, everything is bare, grey, and boring, including our swimming pools. Seriously, I've seen prison drinking fountains with more decor. But that's what I grew up with, that's all I knew.
"So, my first time here and I'm blown away by how fancy everything is. And then I see it, that fountain over in the front? The one you pass to get in here? With the Martian ice, and carvings, and the mood lighting, Never in my life had I seen something so damn beautiful. Being a worldy, civilized, middle aged man, I naturally think what anyone would think: 'I found the Fountain of Youth!' So a rush over and dunk my head in!"
"And guess what? That same kell that terrified his grandpa," Munbeem pointed a tentacle Orgal, "bursts out of the water screaming at me. I scream back, her in anger, me in absolute terror. To this day I still don't know who that kell was or why she in the fountain, but after my heart started working again, she complained about how this was the second time some nit tried to drink from somewhere obviously not meant for drinking. So that's how I know things!"
"Yeah, no kidding." Tyoni said, agreeing with the human's assessment of Mesi and brushing aside the camera concerns.
At Xaltozan's complaint, Tyoni rolled his eyes but finally settled down on the bench, looking up at the woman again. "And it's Conspiracy Marusul. Or Tyoni. Whichever. Part-time truth seeker and full time seeker of employment at the moment. Which I'm hoping is about to change, and I'm thinking is something we have in common. What about you? What's your story?"
edited 14th Jan '18 11:31:08 PM by Parable
"Well, of course not; we are family. Bykata and I grew up together like other cultures would raise sisters, for in the Savages, the family relation is more important than the direct relation" Bykosi mentioned, then had an awkward moment as the two ambassadors readied a toast, and she had no drink. As she tried to flag down a server for one, Bykosi glanced at the approaching Martian ambassador, and glanced about at the various children after his comment. "I noticed a suspicious lack of nisi children here" she commented in a somewhat sly tone, "not that I should be surprised. I doubt other species could handle keeping the energy and ferocity of nisi youth in line during an event like this without incident."
"What Mesi want to know is when Mesi get off planet!" Mesi complained at the robot, then perked up when the announcement system went off. "... Ten minutes?" she muttered, sounding uncertain and desperately hopeful.
Koruuna tilted her head slightly. "I never said anything of the sort, Miss Scarslayer. I was simply saying that children should enjoy their childhood while they have the opportunity," she responded.
Maros nodded at the panicking Nisi and had a bit of a relieved tone in his own voice as well, having heard how soon the ship would be arriving.
"Yes, ten minutes," he assured her. "And soon you'll be away from this gas planet. Now, take deep breaths, calming breaths. You're safe now and you'll be even safer soon."
Kuz-Plak-Tu was currently standing in front of the imposing building, her papers in hand, now was finally the day in which the Osnaria Hegemony would properly join the GN, and Kuz-Plak-Tu was ready to represent her planet. After nodding to her two guard, the Emissary entered the building.
Bykata had to stifle a cheeky grin, as Koruuna had just made things too easy. Instead, Bykata had to pretend to be mildly offended. "Well, I enjoyed my childhood a lot" Bykata said in a prideful tone, making sure to stand up straight as if to emphasize what little height advantage she had on Koruuna. It may have only been two inches, but that didn't mean that Bykata wouldn't take advantage of it. "And clearly these children must enjoy the spectacle of space fighter combat, otherwise they would not have asked me to tell them about it in the first place. So it would seem that I am right in line with what you think" the nisi ambassador added, narrowing her eyes as she tried to stare down the ashkathi.
Azunn moved to mirror the Imperium ambassador just as Tebigon interrupted the trio. Withdrawing his arm, he said, "A pleasure to see you, Ambassador Tebigon. Truer words have never been spoken - our children are our future, even if they can be little rascals sometimes. Having you join us for a toast would be an honour."
The white sirian nodded at Bykosi's comment. "Indeed. I'm often impressed at how parents from the Savages can keep up with their offspring. I'm sure ours must seem downright lethargic by comparison!" He courteously avoided pointing out her lack of a drink - it was only diplomatic, after all, and she would probably appreciate the grace period.
Silverpaw took a moment to notice the attention of Tzahualli's bodyguard, though his relaxed, friendly stance never wavered. His eyes, however, gave Acoatl's bodyguard a quick once-over. Apparently satisfied by what he saw, he began moving closer. The Imperium bodyguard would have clearly noticed the Kell's excellent situational awareness and graceful yet economical motion as he slipped through the crowds.
"I'll pass it along to Secei Berreil," said Cinder, smiling warmly. "Although his schedule may be tight, I'm sure he will be able to meet with you and work out the details. Is there anything else you'd like to ask?"
Erruan reared back in her seat as the drone almost smacked her in the nose. With the danger averted, she listened to the drone give its spiel with increasing scepticism. There's no way this thing is for real...
For lack of anything else to do, however, she decided to humour it for a moment. "...How do I know this isn't a scam?"
The news that the CSS Horizon would be there in just 10 short minutes was music to the sirian's ears.
Headcase's sharp intake of breath as she watched her snack finally begin to budge was cut short by the customs agent's impromptu interrogation. Adopting the most innocent posture she could manage (made no less impressive by the fact her mask hid her expression), she replied, "Oh, that noise? Well, y'see, old tech like this can sometimes make funny sounds as panels expand or contract due to micro-fluctations in the gravitational field and local ambient temperature! It's a well known problem on space stations, and I just happened to be nearby! I should know, I'm an engineer. My harness might've suffered a brief malfunction too... "
The announcement of the CSS Horizon's imminent arrival scarcely registered.
“Quite right!” said Ambassador Tebigon. “A toast, then! Cheers!”
Afterwards, he addressed Consultant Bykosi with some mild surprise. “I'm sorry to hear that,” he said. “I'm certain I've seen at least a few Nisi children around here... Perhaps they're just elsewhere, at the moment?” He briefly glanced around. “Well, even if I am mistaken, I can assure you – on my honour! — nobody was intentionally excluded.”
The staff members around Munbeem all enjoyed a hearty chuckle at the ambassador's tale, though Ambassador Orgal just about deflated, a frown stretching across his face and his eyes narrowing. “Yes, yes, hilarious,” he grumbled. “Well, I'm certainly glad that my people's cultural heritage – indeed, my family's proud history! – could at least provide you with some amusing anecdotes! Wouldn't want it to go to waste being taken seriously, now would we?”
Then, Ambassador Bossak Kron of the Ankara Principalities casually sauntered over to the group, drink in hand. “Ah, hello Ambassador Munbeem, everyone,” he said. “Have I missed another of your famous anecdotes, ambassador? I do seem to have terrible timing with these things... And judging by the look on Ambassador Orgal's face, it was a good one, too,” he adds, with a chuckle.
Orgal scowls at him, but says nothing.
“Well,” began Sasha. “Mostly we just read comics, or sometimes we watch shows our parents don't let us watch at home,” she said. “Chuck's got a PDD and he knows how to to bypass the parental controls. It's pretty cool!”
She looked over at him, and Chuck sheepishly waved off the attention. “It's no big deal!” he insisted.
“Sila usually brings snacks, too, in case anyone gets hungry,” Sasha continued.
One of Sila's heads reached into the small, knitted bag she kept on her back, producing a small pack of cookies and offering it to Meztli.
“We all go to a local school around here, and our parents all work at the embassies, so we meet up here pretty often!” said Sasha. “But the coolest thing about Fort Tranquility?” She glanced over at Chuck, then at Sila, then leaned in a little closer to Meztli, speaking conspiratorially. “It's got a secret passageway! It leads to a special room, just for us!”
“Sorry again,” whispered Ninu, retracting her necks to a more reasonable position.
“Nice ta meet ya, Conspiracy Marusul, also known as Tyoni. I'm Linda,” she pointed a thumb at herself. “And the Visst you just startled is Ninu. As for what my story is, seems like you're on the right track. I'll be aboard the Horizon as an engineer, having spent the past couple months as a vagrant, kinda.” She chuckles.
“Perhaps you will be relieved to know,” the service bot said to Mesi. “That you are not actually on a planet, but rather, a space station. Extrapolating... You appear to be worried that the gases of Neptune will make their way into the station. Please note that this is highly unlikely, given the laws of physics. The probability of death by gaseous contamination is significantly lower than the likelihood of death by sudden atmospheric decompression, cosmic radiation, or malfunctioning autonomous weaponry.”
“Unanticipated response,” the drone said to Erruan. “This is not a scam. This is a limited time offer brought to you by the Mars Company Lottery Company Vacation Agency Company Lottery Company. Enter your financial information NOW or suffer the consequences! Don't you want a free trip to VARIABLE NOT FOUND?”
It's unclear what “consequences” Erruan could possibly face, but the strange robot certainly seemed serious. For such a small thing, it was awfully brazen.
The customs agent kept her suspicious glare fixed firmly on Headcase. “Uh huh,” she said. “Well if your harness has another 'malfunction' make sure it's a safe distance from the machine. And if I hear that noise again, and you're anywhere near it, I'm going to be very upset, no matter what the 'ambient temperature' is.”
The snack slipped again, making it most of the way down the vending machine, only for it to get stuck one final time, directly above the receiving basket. With just a little persistence, one might even say it was within arm's reach.
“There is to be no tampering with the vending machine. Clear?” The question was rhetorical. The customs agent turned her back, and began fluttering back to her desk...
"Attention passengers," chimed the uncannily-happy voice of the automated announcement system. "The C.S.S Horizon will arrive in..." There was a lengthy pause. "FIVE... Minutes... The Martian Transport Authority thanks you for your cooperation and wishes you a pleasant day."
Most people would say that in a place and boring and depressing as Neptune Station's spaceport, time seems to pass slowly. Thankfully, that does not appear to be the case today.
edited 21st Jan '18 1:04:39 PM by Blackfire667
With the toast completed, Acoatl contented himself with listening to the conversation between Tebigon, Ambassador Berreil, and Consultant Bykata. At the Martian’s remark, he clicked his beak. “I should hope not, Mister Ambassador,” he said with a slight wryness. “It would run counter to the spirit of cooperation that forms the bedrock of our Galactic Nations.”
Then he turned his gaze to Berreil and Bykata, smiling faintly. “I’ve no doubt that that may be true for some species, Ambassador Berreil, but I like to think that zhur’ryan hatchlings can be just as energetic as those of Jotun.” His smile disappeared then. “Of course, energy and enthusiasm alone can only take a child so far. If they want to become productive members of society, they need discipline.”
As if responding to a challenge, Acoatl’s bodyguard moved to meet Silverpaw halfway. Like him, her movements were precise and economical, not at all hindered by the matte black armour she wore or the black cape hanging from her pauldrons.
She halted a short distance from Silverpaw, folded her arms, and gave him another onceover. “Nice arm.”
Xalozan gave a low, irritable growl at the dotur’s lack of a response. Still, at least the furry little jackass had stopped bouncing around, which meant his personal space wasn’t likely to be invaded again any time soon. He returned the tool to his bag and eased himself back into his chair, a process that took longer than he would have liked; his dive to catch the hydrospanner before it hit the floor had knocked the chair out of its previous position, and he had to fiddle with it until he was able to sit comfortably again.
During this he found himself listening in on the conversation between the dotur and the human, and he couldn’t restrain a derisive chuff. Part-time truth seeker, my cloaca…
At the Visst’s apology, Xaltozan glanced at her. “Don’t apologize, it wasn’t your fault.” His third eye shot a reproachful glance at Tyoni as he said this. “Just… watch where you’re whipping those heads around, okay?”
[Mars] Fort Tranquility
Meztli accepted the package from Sila with a smile and a thank you. She turned it over in her hands, peering curiously at the foil wrapper, which read, PulsarZ: A Gamma-Ray Burst of Flavor in Every Bite! That didn’t sound particularly healthy; in fact, she knew from her lessons that gamma-ray bursts were quite deadly. Still, it wouldn’t do to refuse the hospitality of her hosts, and so she tore the pack open with her index claw, picked up a cookie and started to nibble at it.
All the while she listened intently to Sasha’s description, and at the mention of a secret passageway her eyes lit up. “How grand! We would love to see it, if you’ll permit us, Sasha.”
Miss Ahuic obviously didn’t know what she was talking about. Sasha, Chuck, and Sila may have been commoners, but there was nothing slovenly about them—at least not as far as Meztli could see.
edited 21st Jan '18 8:15:11 PM by SullenFrog
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