Dusk is just starting to settle over the bustling city of Riverturn, the sprawling seat of power on the planet of Tavros. The central square, housing Bull Run Park, is the current home of a festival honoring the Fastheldian traditions and religion, dubbed the Week of Light. Tents have been set up all through the park offering cuisine and trinkets that may have been found in Fastheld. At the center of the sprawl is a large bronze statue of a rampaging bull, both for the name of the park and in honor of The House from which the founder of the planet came from.

A single chime ripples over the happy crowds of people who have gathered and a silence slowly follows. For a small privacy tent comes the Archon herself, Katrin Lomasa, dressed as a modern business woman in a dark grey suit but still wearing the bull sigil around her neck. As she approaches the small dais that has been erected, she gives a wave in greeting as a small applause rises. “People of Tavros. Visitors. Friends and loved ones. For five years, we have celebrated the traditions of old, even as we embrace the new universe in front of us. On this beautiful Spring evening, we light the torch as a reminder that even so far from home, there is still Light to guide us through even the darkest Shadows.” As she gestures, a young boy, around ten, steps forward with a torch to ignite the waiting ceremonial braised that is decorated with the bull, horse and knight, mongoose, raven and wildcat on its sides.

A tall figure stands nearby, with the other government officials. A grey hooded robe is drawn back enough to show Donatex’ face while his hands are folded before him inside his drooping sleeves. His dark face is a dispassionate blank, though his eyes survey the scene before him with careful diligence.

As the brasier ignites, the crowd erupts into enthusiastic cheers. “Walk in the Light, my friends,” Katrin intones as she bows to those assembled. As the cheering dies down, she is assisted down the steps of the dais and is immediately surrounded by those wishing to speak with her. ¬†Some are former Fastheldians seeking to exchange blessings with her while others seem interested in gaining her attention for more political dealings. The Lomasa maintains her gentle grace she slowly makes her way through. Carrying the air of one who has always known the responsibility and gravity of her position, she smiles. Slowly, but surely, she manages to keep a slow but steady pace, always flanked by two security guards. They at least stay back, allowing any who wish to approach to do so without feeling threatened.

The gaunt Mystic also hangs back, taking note of those who approach Katrin with business in mind. At a certain point, he taps the comm in his ear and speaks quietly into it. He then moves up alongside the Fastheldian. “The council awaits you, Archon,” he says in his quiet, even voice.

Katrin’s head tilts ever so slightly to show her understanding, the serene smile never leaving her face. She offers up the Light’s Blessing to a few more people, even taking the time to gently grasp the hand of an older woman bearing the crest of the bull across her heart. There is affection in the touch, even as no words are spoken. But she does disengage from the crowd, allowing her security to clear a path away from the main crowds. Once free from the majority of the action, she pauses to brush her long brown hair back from her eyes. “Do you have a report of how the festivities are impacting the city yet?” She asks as she waits for Donatex to join her.

The kamiroid stays out of the way until the Archon is finished with the crowd and moves up beside her. “A minor drop in production,” he says, “But nothing that will not be made up for by the corresponding increase in morale.” His pale blue eyes and silver are a severe contrast to his dark, brown complexion. “If I read the signs right,” he adds, “I do believe we could call it a success, though more data will be needed to confirm it.”

Katrin’s bright blue eyes narrow slightly as she takes in the information but nods slowly. “I am pleased to hear it. These traditions mean a great deal to my people. It is a way to remember who we are and where we came from. To be… blessed in such a way as to be brought here, where things that we could only perceive as magic are considered commonplace…” Wry amusement fills those expressive eyes as she walks peacefully, breathing in the fresh air. ” Have you received the agenda yet for this meeting? I do hate to go into anything completely unprepared.”

“Magic…” the Mystic says quietly with a nod, his mind lost to the invisible threads of psionic emanations for a few moments. “Yes, of course,” he draws out a tablet, “My information suggests that several of the councillors would like to discuss opening trade relations with other interstellar powers.”

Evening starts to chase after the small group as Katrin continues to walk slowly back toward the main government building located near y on the square. “I am aware that now that we have begun to produce a surplus in some of our products, certain members of the Council are more eager to open negotiations with other governments. I admit slight hesitancy since many will view us as a simpleton nation based on our background, however I am willing to hear what they have to say.”

“Your concerns are not without merit, Archon,” the Shohobian replies with a thin smile as they approach the entryway stairs, “Though I am convinced that any ambassador coming here thinking so of you will be in for a rude awakening.”

A thin smile appears. “I truly care not what they think of me,” she replies evenly. A certain level of arrogance can be seen in her pale, attractive features. She may no longer be the same young fresh faced beauty to wreck havoc between noble Houses but there is strength and determination. “We will do whatever is in the best interest of our people and the rest of the Shadow blasted universe be damned. They may talk all they wish. It will not impact how we proceed forward if it is what will benefit my people the most.”

“Talk they will, in words of wire, benighted little worlds afire,” Donatex says absently as they climb the stairs, in the same easy way another might give the time of day, “while one great fish takes little heed, ‘twixt schools of minnows war proceeds.”

The main government building of Riverturn is a focal point of the central square of the city, built of swirling grey marble offset by tapestries hung along the walls to depict scenes from both Fastheldian history and the more recent discoveries of Tavros itself. At this hour, the halls are empty with no sounds except for the clicking of the group’s heels against the floor.

Katrin seems content in her silence, up until they stand outside the large double doors that will lead them into the Council chambers. Here, she stops and gestures her security back. “You’ve advised me for several years. Tell me, do you believe seeking an alliance with the Consortium as I anticipate they will be pressuring me to do is in our best interest?” She asks. “They seem to take a far more militaristic stance than we do on Tavros and that concerns me. I do not want to be drawn into some idiot’s war.”

The Mystic stands still in contemplation for a long moment before answering. “An alliance with the Consortium would tie us to both their successes and failures. It would allow us greater protection, but also the risk of greater enemies. In my own time, the Nall were spoken of with hushed tones. If we join the Consortium, we will certainly be embroiled in their coming conflict. But will avoiding that protect us from Parallax expansion?”

Katrin lightly taps a finger against her lips, a small frown marring her features. “I might be more inclined to seek prospective alliances with other outliers like ourselves. Some of them might be willing to at least speak to us about it, especially since they may also fear the overexpansion from these other groups.”

“This is true,” Donatex replies thoughtfully, “Perhaps successful collaboration will prove a credible deterrent to those who might wish to use the threat of overwhelming force to destabilize negotiations.”

“You are far more familiar with the planets of this universe than I,” Katrin says slowly. “If we were to approach any one, which do you suppose would be the most open to receiving an audience regarding such an alliance?” She inquires. She slowly shakes her head. “I was raised on social and political intrigue and the moving dance that surrounds us in this regard and yet on such a large scale as the whole sky of stars, it seems… So very small. We are but one amongst thousands.”

The kamiroid considers this in silence yet again. “In the Qua, you may find those of peaceable nature, though their greatest protection has always been their distance from other worlds,” he says, his voice meandering lyrically as he speaks, “In the Ungstiri, one might find loyal allies, though their world is a strategic position between the Consortium and the Line of Pain. It is likely for them to become an embroiled pawn were war to break out. Tomin Kora……..” A long pause, as the Mystic’s voice drops to just above a whisper. “Tomin Kora, it is said, neither law nor lord bears, but the King rules from shadows impenetrable. Long are the tendrils of his rule, and longer still the reach of his eyes and ears. A powerful ally he would make for those not unwilling to come away with dirt, nay … with blood on their hands.”

“I have heard that the Ungstiri have at least a passable military force,” Katrin muses. “And they have already been rejected by the Consortium if gossip is to be believed. Though they are a potential risk, there could also be many merits to such an alliance.” There is a small glimmer of interest at the mention of Tomin Kora. “As long as one is cautious, blood is very easy to wash away, ” she quips. “Though based on its reputation, having an open relationship could cause us trouble when viewed by more reputable sources.”

“I suppose,” Donatex replies quietly, “Though if our own people knew, it would only be a matter of time before everyone knew. And know this: The Pirate King always knows more than you, and he will always make certain he is in a position of strength.”

Katrin shakes her head, “Such a public alliance would never do,” she says firmly. “More discreet dealings would be a must.” She snakes a coil of brown hair around her finger, twisting it in slow circles as she ponders. A small crinkle appears between her brows, her bright blue eyes narrowing. “I think for now, we should pursue more reputable options and keep the underhand dealings very close. I myself cannot make such a public trip into a place such as Tomin Kora but sending someone on our behalf if they can be discreet may be an option. In the meantime, before we go down that road, I would like more information on their dealings. I am willing to allow others to think they hold the dominant position in a relationship, however I will never allow myself to be powerless again.” Something dark crosses over her face for a moment and then it’s gone.

“Understood, Archon,” the Mystic replies with a bow, “So it is your intention to lead the council in the direction of Ungstir then?”

Katrin nods, “Yes, I believe that that will be the best way to go,” she decides. “I will be very open to other options, but I do believe Ungstir will be the best option.”

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By Brody

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