The room is in a high tower with a wonderful view. It’s definitely a place meant to display wealth and power. It does so nicely. Everything from the white decor and furnishings to the golden accents to the floor to ceiling wraparound window screams ‘importance.’
This is where Ardul – now somewhat fuzzier and more Canine – and Nina are meeting with the representatives of the FAR. One of them is a stone like humanoid with only vague features, massive and barrel chested. The other is a creature like a wolfen, but stockier and with if possible an even more predatory look to him. Hunter is just outside the room but he’s probably not needed for this.
“Greetings. I am Adept Soren.” The Canine one says. “This is General Krane. You are I take it Princep Nina and Knight-Commander Ardul?”
Ardul is dressed in her skirts today. That has drawn a look from Nina and then some. Well maybe that was the obvious changes in her appearance since yesterday, as well. Her red tipped wings hang down her back as she stands next to the stately Iyesgarthian.
“It is Ardul, now. Companion to Hunter, once Knight Commander of Iyesgarth.” She says quietly looking at the stocky canine and wondering how alike he is to Hunter or how different. She doesn’t take things for granted.
Nina herself is dressed in more traditional Iyesgarthian fashion, looking regal and more than competent. “I am Princep Nina and it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance Adept Soren, General Krane. May the wind always be under your wings. Thank you for agreeing to meet with us …”
“Our pleasure. Please. Be seated. Do you want any refreshements?” Adept Soren gestures to some comfortable couches and chairs. They’ll be seated around an irreigularly shaped glass table for this and there’s a sidebar with alcohol and various kinds of finger food.
“Apologies. Ardul then. Companion to Marshal Hunter is it?”
It seems like the fuzzy one is going to be doing much of the talking.
“I understand that you have come with some… requests? Bargains? Something of that nature. There is an arrangement you seek to make with us?”
“No need to apologise, Adept Soren. The Princep was gracious enough to release me from my service to the Crown only recently but yes, Companion to Marshal Hunter, is what I am now. Though the plight of the world I once called home still concerns me.”
The women take a seat and Soren won’t miss the cuff that Ardul wears about her arm as she turns.
“If it is alright with you, Adept Soren, I would like something non-alcoholic. If you have something you recommend, I have found myself rather enjoying the food and drink here.” Nina says. The words are true but also designed to flatter. “As to our being here, our Throne World of Iyesgarth has been under a coup for the last two years. My uncle, Horatio, seized the throne when my father died and had Ardul and I sentenced to death. Thanks to her ingenuity and bravery, we escaped and found ourselves on Earth.”
The blonde, non-fuzzy one, waves a hand. “Let me short cut the explanation. We are led to believe that we might find allies here to aid us in recovering our Home, in exchange … for certain agreements. Is this correct?”
The canine does cant his head slightly at the gold bangle, as though he knows what it means. Or has an idea. “Interesting. I had not thought the wolfen still practiced that manner of courtship. Regardless…”
He focuses back onto Nina as he rises to get a juice of some kind. Sour and sweet in equal measure it seems rather popular on this world and this example is unfiltered. The pulp of the plant is still in the juice.
“You seek to make an alliance to secure rule of your world back and in return you are willing to agree to support our Federation? Yes, we’ve made arrangements like that in the past and we might be willing to do so here. Why don’t you give me the details on what has transpired and what sort of help you think you require. And… what you think you might offer in return.”
If it’s possible, Ardul colours at the comment, Nina giving her a searching look. She doesn’t comment though, just touches the band fondly.
How aware are they, of Hunters origins? she wonders.
Nina sips from the drink and sighs in appreciation. “This really is very good.” She nods slowly at the questions. “It is a long story, Adept, but I will try to make it as concise as possible.”
It still takes some time, explaining what’s happened. The nanites, taking control of the army, whatever Horatio is doing on Earth and the kill switch. She doesn’t mention that the nanites are mostly responsible for Arduls changes.
“So, we fear, Adept, that should we an offense on our Throneworld, we will not have the avian-power and Horatio will activate the kill switch and kill many.”
“I’m not sure what we might offer, after seeing what you have here, but we are strong people and loyal.”
“Soldiers are always useful. They might have some interesting technology as well.” The General says quietly in a rumbly voice.
“Would that be sufficient to commit a force to the world’s liberation though?” Soren asks the general. Rather than answering the General makes a non-committal gesture and the canine creature nods.
“I think we have an agreement in principle but I’d like to talk details a little bit. Are your people numerous? You have said they are strong and loyal. And presumably winged as you are. They might serve well in our marine forces, were you willing to commit to them doing so. Ordinarily we ask allied worlds to provide a certain number of military space craft to enforcing our defense cordon against the Tarlok empire. But am I correct in gathering that your people do not have spaceflight technology?”
It’s an interesting question. They have VERY advanced tech, and yet some of the things even on Rifts Earth have caught them off guard.
“All of our people are winged.” Nina answers, holding the Canines gaze as she talks. “We thought we were numerous until we saw Rifts Earth, now I would say that we are. To be honest, I would say we are not numerous, not as you might judge these things.”
She winces at the question and looks to Ardul before answering “We do not, Adept. Though we have recently been led to believe that our kind might have ventured to stars or from the stars when Iyesgarth was young. We … could not meet such a request, I’m afraid. Is there something else we might offer instead?”
“Warriors would be the next thing. And material supplies. If you would be willing to supply our forces with a certain number of soldiers we could extend to you the aid and protection of our Federation.”
“Those blades…” The general says, rumbling. “Where did you get them. Plasma technology is rare and they seem finely crafted.”
Ah so Hunter had not mentioned THAT part to them yet…
“What type of materials?” Nina asks carefully. “Iyesgarth is a resource rich planet. Depending on the quantities you require and what, I could convince my council to agree to that. We will not strip our planet, though, in order to save it and we would have to ask for that as credit until we have returned the Throneworld to our rule.”
Her eyebrows rise at the admission and she looks at Ardul in question. The furrier blonde shakes her head, she hadn’t expected this but perhaps after the last day she should have.
It’s Ardul who speaks up, with Nina’s urging, though she does look to the door where Hunter waits. “We make our blades, Sir, as a rite of passage to full membership to the army. Every Iyesgarthian warrior knows how to source the materials and craft them. It is a technique that was handed down by the Giselde the Blessed during a war we waged with the Freewings, long, long ago.”
It appears she might add more but she falls silent.
“Is plasma technology rare because you don’t have the knowledge or the materials?” Nina adds.
“Well certainly we could not expect you to supply soldiers until the world is back under your control.” The general says. So it seems that’s not a worry.
“Interesting. The knowledge is uncommon and the materials might be rare. It’s hard for me to say since those who CAN make them are rarely interested in sharing that knowledge.” On earth plasma blades aren’t that much more common really. The best way to find them is to go to Atlantis where the Splugorth’s minions make them. Otherwise, use a vibro sword.
“The technolgy would be… very valuable if you were willing to part with the secrets of its making.” Though that’s not all of course. The training is also very impotant.
“So then. If we supply you a force to assist in retaking your world, you will agree to supply us with a quota of soldiers? And we can negotiate about exchanging other benefits for materials and technology.”
Nina seems to let out a breath, or at least become less tense. “That can be arranged, General. Though I should ask how many soldiers make up the quota. As to sharing our knowledge, I am willing to do this. All our soldiers know how, and how to repair them. I believe Ardul taught one of her Earth recruits how to do so, from materials they foraged in markets.”
That might be of interest, indeed.
“I suspect that we will gain other knowledge in this venture, as well as recovering our home.”
Ardul nods but remains silent, her canine features slightly difficult to read.
“Intesting…” Soren says. “As to the numbers, we’re willing to adjust that based on your worlds ability to contribute but at a ballpark number if you were willing to outfit a fifty thousand strong corps, that would be acceptable.” That number might go slightly up or down based on negotations and other considerations. The Federation might offer Iyesgarth more incentives to get more from them.
“I think then that I can pledge you aid and offer you membership in our alliance, conditionally upon both you and my superiors approving anythign we agree on. General, how long would it take to amass a force capable of assisting in retaking the world?”
“If we’re willing to make it a volunteer force from our more warlike worlds… I’d say a matter of months.” The rock creature looks apologetically to Nina. “I’m sorry, of course, not to be able to do it sooner but logistics must be arranged and troops mustered.”
“Once I have my throneworld, you may have Corps, General.” Fifty thousand, is that all? Nina maintains her composure but she’s relieved. Of course, they might need to encourage the rest of the population to be … good citizens and provide more citizens.
But that’s never really been a problem.
“Months, Sir are nothing in the scheme of things. I have been absent two years and more now. I’ve managed to seed agents on the world and they’ll keep things as settled as possible and we will not poke Horatio much more until we are ready to strike. Is there anything else, Ardul?”
“No, Princep.” The fuzzy Angel answers quietly. “Except. When this is settled, I would ask that you assign a team of researchers to find out more about Galena and her battles. I think … we might be surprised.”
The name gets a quirk of the brow from the two FAR representatives but they both rise.
“We’ve arranged diplomatic quarters.” The general says. “I will begin preliminary work of raising our forces to aid you and we will be in contact.”
That said with a bow the rock creature departs, leaving only the canine who pours himself an alcoholic drink.
“So you’re aware, many of our forces are likely to be Wolfen, which you have met before I believe, or Wulf like myself.” Wulf. Interesting. What might be the difference there.
“We’re both warlike peoples with strong codes of honor. Our fighters will want to help.”
Nina and Ardul rise and salute the general. Arms across their chests, in the Iyesgarthian way. “Thank you, General.” Nina answers and looks to Soren, taking a seat again. “Might I impose on you for one those, Adept? I think Ardul might like one too and perhaps we could invite our escort in?”
She knows Hunter is waiting and until now it hadn’t been appropriate to include him.
“I am aware, Adept.” Ardul speaks, there’s a slight growl to her voice now. Much like a Wolfens. “And I’m preparing our people as best I can. The Iyesgarthians have honour and extremely loyal but we differ in our cultures and it might … be interesting.”
“What is the difference between Wolfen and Wulf, might I ask?” Nina says politely. “We had few interplantery or interdimensional visitors on our planet.”
“Of course. Bring him in.” The Wulf pours three more drinks and sets them down on the table before taking a seat again himself.
“Physically? We’re different species of course. Genetically incompatible. All Wulf are pyrokinetic as well.” By way of demonstration, Soren calls a small flame into his hand, letting it hover there for a moment before snuffing it out. “Culturally we’re quite similar to the Wolfen… well the ones that we have here. People who value strength, honor, loyalty. Soldierly values. The wolfen are more pack oriented than my people. They form tighter knit groups, I think. But we have a long history of alliance and cooperation dating back to the days of the Lanikea Crusade.”
Ardul smiles and heads to the door, opening it and gesturing for the Wolfen to join them. “Would you join us, Marshal Greymane?” He won’t miss the amusement in her tone at using his title.
“I see. Do your species, did your species, live together?” Nina is interested and her eyes widen at the display of pyrotechnics. “Ardul mentioned the light troupes were reenacting that Crusade. What can you tell me of it?”
“Not always. But there are many planets in the Federation where multiple species coexist. Like this one. In the heart of our worlds though, no, they tend to be separate. Our Homeworld is ours and theirs is… well…” Hunter has explained that no one quite knows WHERE the real Wolfen homeworld is.
Hunter smirks at Ardul and steps in. “Adept.” He says, seeming to know that by the man’s dress.
“Marshal. Good to see you. Come. Refresh yourself. Your friends were asking after our spieces and history.”
“Were they?” Hunter says taking a drink.
“The Crusade? That was an ancient military campaign that happened in the Lanikea cluster, far from here. It was a pivotal moment in the history of the Federation but it was eight thousand years ago, so much of the stories are half legend now. Winged warriors played a pivotal role in it though, or so the legends say and their deeds have been immortalized in traditional plays and mock battles for millenia.”
Ardul slips her arm through Hunters, as she’s had the habit of doing when they aren’t on official business. She does take the drink though and sip from it.
“It’s funny, Adept, but we have a similar story.” Nina starts, glancing at her cousin. What must she be thinking at the moment? “Eight thousand, three hundred and twenty five years ago, the blessed Giselde had descended from the heavens not long before the battle for Lanilua, delivering the gift of the sabres to us. The battle of Lanilua had been raging for days when Giselde took the field and led us to victory.”
She looks at the Wulf “Ardul thinks that our story might be disremembered and deliberately so….” It’s a light comment that invites further discussion. “What do you say, Hunter?”
Hunter sits down. “Do you really want to hear me expound on military history?”
“Regale us, Hunter.” Soren says as he watches the way the wolfen and the winged canine woman interact.
Hunter smiles, takes a drink and leans forward. “Well…”