Keth idly drums his fingers on table at his favorite corner booth in The Tree. It’s not exactly the most upscale, but it’s a comfortable place, and a good one when work is too hectic to stop home for a meal. Still, no amount of nice settings can make reading through the latest round of business contracts fun. The distraction of his PDA pinging a message his way doesn’t help the issue of focusing at all. The contents of it merely cause a raised eyebrow, and a button to be tapped on his device. The one that opens up comm lines, of course. “Knot Reception? Yeah, this is he. Could you let our recent guests know there’s a special on at the Tree? Thanks.”

Bluefang stalks into the Tree, still limping but freshly showered and garbed in a loose-fitting blue tunic and gray trousers.

The Cliffwalker bows slightly before taking possession of a chair, waving Bluefang over as he does so. “How fare you this evening?” he asks the architect.

Keth smirks slightly and gestures at a stack of documents “Some old clients are making weird demands about hamsters again.  But if that’s the worst that crosses my desk, it’s a good day.”

“I have no idea what that means,” Bluefang responds with a grunt, settling into a chair opposite Razorback. His eyes narrow as he fixes his attention on Kethren.

“Terran vermin, if I recall correctly,” Razorback replies, waving over a server, “Quite the delicacy, I believe. Do they serve them here?” He glances over at Kethren as he picks up a menu.

The architect chuckles “Not as a rule, no. There’s usually plenty of leghorn though. Few other assorted local critters come in now and then.”

“Leghorn?” Bluefang muses. “Strange world.” He swings his snout to the right, eyes on the door. “I appreciate your aid.”

“Strange, yes,” Razorback says, “But quite lovely. Much of the local wildlife is quite delicious.” He licks his chops before looking up at the server. “Let us do the Leghorn Special,” he says, “You still take Hekayti credits.”

Keth nods. “Of course.  Anyway, we export a fair amount of coffee their way… well, a local bean that’s very similar.”

“Coffee is wretched,” Bluefang opines. He crosses his arms and then asks, “Do you have wine?”

“Yes,” the Cliffwalker adds, his ears canted forward, “Demaria Red, more specifically.”

The councilor lets his eyes slip out of focus for a couple of moments before nodding. “We do appear to have a few bottles in the cellar.”

“I will try it,” the other Demarian growls.

“I distinctly remember bringing several bottles of my own stock to this place, or another just like it,” Razorback grumbles quietly, “Good wine down the drain…”

Keth idly reaches up to scratch the kitten-ferret on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t be long, doesn’t look like the kitchen’s overly busy tonight.”

Bluefang bobs his snout as he continues to survey the small crowd in the pub. “Why are we here again?”

“I suppose that depends the scope of the question,” Razorback says, “I came because I had heard of a special on small poultry.”

Keth raises an eyebrow while rifling through that stack of documents “The miniature leghorn averages around four feet tall.” Extracting a lone sheet from the stack, he slides it over to the others. “I received this a short while ago” It’s an image of a message:




Regarding reports of a threat to the life of President Jeremiah Busby, we would like to have our intelligence operatives question the source of the information. We would prefer to do so on Earth, if they are willing to travel. Please extend the request to them immediately. We await your response.

Bluefang peruses the document, then looks at Razorback and says, “It seems we have their attention.”

“Indeed,” Razorback rumbles, leaning back in his seat, “And it would seem that you have a choice before you. But be wary, the word ‘question’ can be a broad term, especially since once on their soil you can legally be charged with conspiracy…”

Meanwhile in orbit of Impiruil Baile, one of its relatively newer residents arrives and pulls himself into a parking orbit. A small shuttle departs from it and lands at the nearby spaceport. From within, the avatar of Galactix steps out, and begins to make his way towards the tavern to confer, converse, and otherwise hob nob with his fellow Baileans.

Kethren nods slightly. “A questioning on Earth does sound like it might have a similar feel to walking into a  room past a flashing neon sign which reads ‘Insert Face For Trap'”

“And if we refuse?” Bluefang frowns. “We escaped Demaria for the purpose of ending this threat. How will the Consortium respond to this world if you don’t approve?”

“I think … refusal is not the word I would choose,” Razorback replies thoughtfully, considering the angles, “Rather, a … neutral meeting place is … more desirable. They want more information with which to protect their President, we want to give it to them. We want to be safe, they should want that as well. Call it … a show of good faith, in return for ours.”

Galactix enters into the tavern, and spots at least one friendly face. He steps over near the table, nodding to the two Demarians then looking to Keth. “A good evening to you, Mr. Kethren.” he says. “How are you faring this evening?”

Keth smiles a bit and nods at the new arrival. “Evening.” before turning some of his attention back to the others. “Mind if he joins us? You can trust him. “

Bluefang doesn’t look so sure, but shrugs and nods. He asks Razorback, “Tell them to come here, then?”

“I should think so,” Razorback says to Bluefang, nodding. He then turns his attention to the hologram, his ears canted curiously forward. “Razorback, clan Cliffwalker,” he says, dipping his head respectfully, “Mr….”

“Galactix,” the hologram responds. “At least, my mobile representation. The real me is parked in orbit.” he says.

The architect smirks slightly. “We did him a favor awhile back, every now and then he comes by for a visit.”

“A talking spaceship,” Bluefang muses. “That must get annoying for your captain.”

There is a flicker of recognition at the name, and the issue of trustworthiness seems resolved for Razorback. “Please, join us,” he says, waving to an empty seat, not that it is necessary, of course. He turns to the others. “So it is decided, then?” he asks, “Or is there something we have yet to consider?”

Galactix smirks slightly at Bluefang. “Indeed… it likely would, if I had one.” he says as he ‘sits’ in the mentioned seat.

Keth shrugs. “This is probably as good a place as any. We’re remote enough that people aren’t likely to think we’re taking sides.”

“Tell them to come, then,” Bluefang replies. “I will tell all that I know.”

“It occurs to me,” Razorback says, his ears leaning backwards, “That having someone here who can speak for Demaria may not be a terrible thing. It would be all too easy for someone to jump to the conclusion that they are involved. I would that questions of that nature could be answered.”

Galactix listens for the moment, still getting a grasp of the conversation.

The councilor raises an eyebrow in Razor’s direction. “Did you have anyone in mind for the local presence?”

Bluefang waits for Razorback to answer, rapping fingers on the tabletop.

“In mind?” Razorbacks asks, his muzzle creasing in amusement, “You give me too much credit. My knowledge of the players of interstellar politics is currently quite limited. I have met Stumppaw Sandwalker once, though he doubtless would not remember. As to a representative of Impiruil Braille, I trust whomever you would.”

Galactix continues to listen as well, though his curiosity increases.

Keth smirks slightly. “Not a lot of people here who have time for politics… Aina might, but much as I care about her, she’s not really disposed to that sort of work. Seem to have trouble getting away from it, myself.”

“Sandwalker.” Bluefang snarls the name. “Not my favorite people, but he may suit our needs.”

“Nor mine,” Razorback admits with a nod, “But there is little that can be done on Demaria without them.” He gives a sympathetic nod to Kethren, but then turns to Galactix. “You have no doubt heard the news of the assassination plot against the Consortium President,” he says.

Galactix widens his eyes slightly. “Ah… that I have. Then I presume this meeting is to discuss the situation.” he says, taking a moment to pause and think. “Perhaps I can offer assistance. If you need a place to conduct a meeting of… shall we say, of a delicate nature, perhaps I can provide a neutral location in which to meet. I can park in deep space at agreed coordinates. This might lessen an appearances of advantage for any side.”

Keth nods. “Indeed. The Consortium was hoping to do some questioning on Earth… but we seem to be in agreement that it’s something of an imbalanced offer.”

“Very well,” Bluefang says with a sigh. “Arrange the meeting.”

“Agreed,” Razorback says with a nod as the wine arrives. “Ah, thank you,” he says to the server as the Cliffwalker deftly begins to pour three… no, four glasses, “To preservation of peace?”

“Indeed. Peace is always a noble goal” Galactix says. He picks up a glass and raises in a toast but of course does not imbibe.

“That it is.”  Says Keth, also raising his glass.

“Works for me.” Bluefang agrees, lifting his own glass to match the rest. Then he takes a sip.

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By Brody

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