AF 260, Second Quarter (YE 32), Fourth Month, Eighth Day
Rented Meeting Room, Meltra Trade Station, Meltra III Orbit, Meltra System
3200 AST (0800 YST)
Soft orchestral music played in the background as the attendants readied the room for both political envoys of the Abwehran Star Empire and Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth. Meltra III hung outside the tinted viewports, so large that visitors could see the splendor of the world barely touched by civilization. The room the meeting was taking place in was located in one of the ventral-side Commercial Districts, a boxy protrusion jutting from the Harbor-class Trade Station. In this room, a round table of varnished Eisenrhide, a tree that produced much of the hard wood on Abwehr. Surrounding the table were Tyrani leather chairs with small computer terminals installed beside each. The walls of the room were paneled with a much softer Meerblume, which was polished smooth and painted in a pleasant sepia color. To decorate the room, various flora from both Abwehr and Meltra III were arranged and strategically placed to not be distracting. Hanging from the wood paneling, the flags from both meeting nations were displayed side by side on the side opposite of the room's viewport.
Once preparations were completed, most of the attendants began to file out of the room through an employee's door except for three. Two of these attendants moved to stand by the doors and opened them for the envoys to enter, while the third stood nearby yet out of the way.
The Iroma party consisted of a quartet in long and elegant robes decorated with beads and , something considered out of date and even slightly anachronistic within the fashions of the Commonwealth. Of the three, two were dusky-skinned men wearing ornate armored mantles and hoods, ceremonial weapons held in their hands, sheathed and clasped shut to prevent an impropriety. They showed very little skin, with only their faces and oddly marked hands peeking through the edges of long sleeves as they stepped forward, dimly glowing eyes passing over the other occupants of the room. The most elite of the Temple Guard were not simply for show though.
As the Abwehrans authorities at port had discovered, the quiet and reverent things with the shapes of men that had followed the envoys were something entirely different from the other Iroma, their bodies largely replaced by strange and exotic biotechnology.
The third figure, a tall, young woman with a partially shaved queue hairstyle donning equally ornate but far less military-seeming robes strode forward. She was one of the Conclave, the high executive branch of the government flown in from the Capital for this momentous occasion, her albinic features and faint facial markings marking her as one of the ice-borne Mazerinii. Behind her and the other two was the officer who had first made contact, given the momentous responsibility of translating for the woman who did not quite have a command of their common tongue. He wore a rather simple-looking longcoat uniform, carefully buttoned up and adorned with a cravat to give the impression of ceremony.
It was, in reality, a little bit against dress code.
The woman took her seat, her attendants standing against the wall behind her, eyes still watching. The officer, after a slight pause, took the place next to hers, which had been marked for their party.
Both spoke, although only the slightly delayed words of the thirty-something looking man was comprehensible to the Abwehrans. "We of the Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth are pleased to participate in this historic agreement, and wish for this to be the beginning of good relations in the coming years."
The next to enter was the Abwehran Envoy with only a trio of participants, considering they were the natives in this discussion. The first of these was one of the four-armed males of the Abwehran species. A brown-haired man with pale blue eyes, he was attired in the formal wear of the Abwehran nobility. This formal outfit consisted of a pair of trousers that were tucked underneath calf-height, black boots that were polished to a shine. A double-breasted coat with coattails reaching down to the man's knees was worn over a blouse with a ruffle of cloth at the chest. Usually, these were colored based upon the noble house the individual came from, but this man's colors seemed to be the navy-blue and black of the Imperial Family.
The second figure was a woman in Military Dress Uniform. Her steel-gray eyes seemed hawkish in nature, even more so with the scar moving from above her left eyebrow down to her left cheek, eying the dusky skin Iroma with mild interest. Of the three individuals, her Mahogany skin was the closest to the Temple Guard present in the room. Her uniform skirt was a beige color with a pair of mid-heel, black pumps upon her feet. Her dress jacket was white with gold trim and a black panel in a v-shape moving from a point just below her breasts up to her neck. Gold epaulets decorated the jacket's shoulders while a gold beret sat upon shoulder-length, crimson hair, which had been tied back into a simple pony-tail.
The last to enter was another woman in what could only be considered business attire. A black pencil skirt with a simple black coat over a white blouse was her attire. However, her eyes were covered by thick, black goggles and her ashen hair trimmed to her chin.
Moving to their seats, they waited for their visitors to sit before sitting down as well. Listening to the translation, the Abwehran Noble smiled and nodded respectfully. "On behalf of Her Majesty, Empress Rosenthal, we also wish for good relations and peaceful times for years to come." he replied in heavily accented Trade. "I am Baron Anton Rosenthal of Alphenrose, representative of the Imperial Government." the wiry man introduced before motioning to the rather voluptuous military woman to his right. "This is Admiral Adala Sommer of the Imperial Weltraumflotte, representative of the Abwehran Armed Forces." The Red-head nodded respectfully as well, her smile was small and seemed to be well controlled. "The lady to my right is Brunhilde Lehrer, representative of the Colony that we are orbiting." Brunhilde smiled broadly at the Iroma envoy in response to her introduction.
The Iroma Envoy smiled briefly, putting her hand to the officer's shoulder, nodding knowingly when he turned to look at her. He did not give any overt reaction, but turn to the three Abwehran representatives, clearing his throat. "This is Deputy Minister Kumari Lakshmi, of the Conclave. She will be representing the civilian government of the Iromakuanhe." He then steepled his fingers, resting his forearms against the edge of the table. "I am Vayranr Nadir Akkad, representing the exploration fleet in orbit over and our armed forces."
Kumari spoke shortly, looking first at Nadir and then at the delegation sent to greet them, with the junior officer translating accordingly. "Our government has several terms that it has preference to in any document of trade or non-aggression, that we wish to discuss for acceptability. As it is likely that you have similar preferences, it would for the best that all of these things would be put to the table immediately before we continued."
"Of course," Anton replied with a nod. "That is only to be expected Fraulein," he replied directly to Kumari, since all Nadir was doing was translating at the moment. "I believe starting discussion on a Pact of Non-Aggression should be the first on our agenda and it will probably be the easiest as well," the Noble stated with a charming smile. "If you could please start with your terms, we'd be happy to discuss our own."
Nadir translated to Kumari, who in turn gave her reply through him. "We would simply ask that you do not associate with a number of rogue governments that have taken up territories on the frontiers of our space. Due to a lack of oversight in the past, we have had ongoing trouble with corporate breakaways and juntas, and it would cause us great trouble if you lended them legitimacy."
"They are in effect, pirate kingdoms that are inhibiting continued stability in our sector." Nadir then spoke on his own, his manner carrying a little less delicacy than when he was translating for the politician. "One such breakaway attempted to use radiation warheads to despoil an inhabited planet only a few months ago. We will provide dossiers in exchange for your compliance on this issue."
Anton couldn't help but grimace at that issue. "I see, that seems to be quite troublesome," he replied before nodding. "Of course, we won't associate or legitimize organizations that have gone rogue from your Commonwealth," the Noble stated. "We also have a bit of a pirate problem along our major trade lanes, but our Space Forces patrol the lanes well enough to not inhibit trade," he explained.
"And we certainly wouldn't want anyone legitimizing our pirates either," Adele spoke up for the first time, her contralto quite shocking after listening to the bass of Anton's voice.
"Yes, so this is a matter of us treating our friends like we treat ourselves. In the Abwehran Star Empire, anyone who commits acts of piracy loses the protection of our Constitution," Anton explained. "So I do believe associating ourselves with 'pirate' nations is the last thing we would do." the Noble stated softly. "We would also like you to not interfere with a situation we are having in the system of Khorsovarolor. About a Quarter or so ago, a plague broke out on the world due to unapproved, independent traders carrying an illness. Their government fell because of it and we are currently attempting to maintain order while they form a new one. Some of their former military seems to believe we are trying to occupy them for good and are committing acts of terrorism on both our Forces and their own people, so we would greatly appreciate it if you do not legitimize them either."
Nadir translated as the Abwehran delegation replied, taking a little longer to explain a few terms that she was unfamiliar with. After a few moments, Kumari smiled and nodded knowingly to Anton and Adele, and spoke her reply in her own language. The young officer next to her translated again. "We are glad that these terms have been outlined, and do hope that resolving this most serious issue will set the tone for our continued interactions. It may serve our mutual interests better if we sought active cooperation on our separate fronts, though a good peace is preferable, in any case"
"The Iromakuanhe Astral Commonwealth accepts." She retracted her hands from the table, resting them on her lap as she looked to the ASE representatives curiously for a moment. "I would ask first, before bringing such thoughts to table... what terms did you have, beyond non-intervention with the Khorsoi?"
Anton paused to give the question some thought. "Other than to ask if it would be permissible for civilian traffic to enter your territory. I know quite a few authorized merchants might want to expand their markets outside our territory and the known nations of the area. Of course, they'll be given full warning about these pirate nations and to steer clear of them."
"They will also have to deal without Weltraumflotte protection if they go out too far," Adala stated briefly.
"Of course, our Space Force is rather busy closer to home." Brunhilde suddenly made her presence known.
"That may be possible, actually." Nadir replied in turn after translating to the Deputy Minister. "Our society has an extremely mature aerospace industry and orbital colonization that would make trade rather accessible to your merchants. Our fleet has been expanding to meet increased needs for colonial defense as we push out of our home system, but I think we should be able to cover defense so long as our forces cooperate in protecting civilian merchant assets."
He gave a slight nod to Kumari and translated what he had said before, as she seemed to be in thought. "I believe it would be desirable for us, as well, if we were to establish mutual trade. I know there are merchants who would likewise be interested in breaking into new markets."
"There is a minor matter to discuss before such a thing is possible, however." The minister replied after the officer gave his piece, waiting for him to translate before she continued. "We would open our doors to free trade only after making a comparative analysis of your markets. Because our industries are automated and make extensive usage of fabrication technology, our economy is based heavily on ideas, energy and exotics." She paused briefly, thinking about how to related her terms. "You might term such a thing as 'near scarcity' or 'low scarcity' as material goods still have intrinsic value, but this is a concern. We would not want to trade freely with a society that does not place any value in energy, or that has completely overcome scarcity as it would not be mutually beneficial."
"In such a situation, tariffs might be necessary. We would likewise not be offended if you did not wish to engage in trade if it was disadvantageous to yourselves, as well."
"We are in agreement with protecting our civilian trade," Adala stated with a nod.
"We also have near/low scarcity due to our need to maximize production yet limit energy consumption in the process," Brunhilde replied as she typed something into her computer terminal. A Field Emission Display began to lower from the ceiling for all parties to view what she was pulling up.
"This is our current yield economically from the last Quarter...sorry, standard year," the Colonial Representative explained. "While we do trade with the more powerful Yamataian Star Empire and Democratic Imperium of Nepleslia, it is rather limited due to their greater resources and reliance upon Aether technology." she explained before frowning. "Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to explain such technology. It's beyond my comprehension."
"It's also illegal in the Abwehran Star Empire." Adala stated in annoyance. "Ripping energy from some other universe to use in this, while tempting, would have the fundamentalist Universalists throwing temper tantrums all over..."
"Hush now Admiral, there's no need to discuss that," Anton scolded softly. "Either way, I believe our economists should probably squabble over that before we go into those details." the Baron stated with a chuckle.
Both Kumari and Nadir blinked for a moment, before the latter replied. "Mmm. It's an understandable conundrum, and one I'm sure it will probably color our people's interactions with these two other states, but I think we've reached an agreement on this front. While we've recently made breakthroughs in such technology, our early permutations of such technology require vast amounts of exotics that prevent them from having a meaningful impact on our economy."
Kumari reaches for a flat touch-display device and set it on the table, pushing it gently towards the Abwehran delegation. "And these are ours." The data displayed the total energy yields in plain Nepleslian, notably featuring absolutely massive amounts of harnessed solar energy being taken in by orbital collection rings around two planets, and a large reliance on geothermal and fusion in other regions. "A more detailed analysis will be required, but I suspect that we currently fit one another's parameters, economically."
Each of the civilian representatives glanced over the data and nodded. "Very similar to ours," Brunhilde stated softly as Adala seemed to be idly tapping her terminal.
"Interesting, out of curiosity, how much of your economy is Private Sector compared to Public Sector?" Anton asked.
Nadir translated back to the junior minister again, although her reply was a little shorter and more uncertain than expected. "I'm afraid I don't quite understand the nature of the question. Are you asking whether our economy is controlled by the government or by corporations?"
"Correct, although most economies have cases of both rather than strictly either-or," Anton replied. "Most of our economy, for example, is run by private citizens and corporations. We still have institutions run by our government such as postal services, education, and healthcare. I was just wondering if your economy was similar in that respect."
Kumari nodded as if to say 'I see', and started on her reply. "I suppose we are somewhat similar, then. Most of the economy is controlled by the electorate, with large cooperative associations working across regional lines. The bedrock of our system, natural resources, infrastructure and most essential services, are backed by a union of state and corporate power."
"Power is slightly decentralized in regards to management in most situations, so different colonies will be managed differently on the planetary level. My homeworld of Mazerin, for example, is primarily controlled by corporate interests because the livable ecology consists almost entirely of arcologies, so their regional administrators are often governors and mayors."
"Interesting," Brunhilde mumbled thoughtfully. "That seems totally different from our more centralized way of doing things."
"Of course, it's not like everyone will chose centralized organizational arrangements. The Freespacers are one of those," Anton replied before he paused to collect himself. "Let's see -- we've discussed trade and non-aggression. Fraulein, would your government be interested in setting up embassies in Abwehran territory?" the Baron asked. "I ask this because we've been interested in setting up our own embassies for a while, but many nations don't seem to do this practice."
The Iroma representative nodded, looking at Anton with piqued interest when he brought the topic up. "Of course. An embassy would be the first step towards forming good relations between our governments." She replied, glancing at Nadir for a moment and whispering something to him.
Nadir paused for a moment. "The Junior Minister is curious as to why the other nations haven't been opening embassies. Is the practice simply unpopular?"
"Honestly, I have no clue," the Baron replied softly. "The Abwehran people are quite new to the interstellar scene and most of our data comes from a civilian scientific commune. But from what we've gathered, the possibility can only be that they've never seen the need for it. Especially with the history of warfare prevalent in the region." Anton explained.
"But in our opinion, that just gives us even more incentive to start establishing embassies. We'll probably try to bring it up in the next Interstellar Conference."
"Ah. It's understandable that people might want to shirk away from diplomacy the region has been at war for so long. I can only hope that we are not dragged into a conflict with larger powers because of misunderstandings." Kumari said in acknowledgement, gently running her index finger across the bridge of her nose. "Still, I wouldn't discount the possibility of things changing."
After a brief moment, she taped Nadir on the shoulder and added to her reply. "There is a small matter of the Interstellar Conference. Could you consider sponsoring a delegation of ours and bring them to the conference? We would trade for this, of course, but it is very much our intention to announce ourselves, rather than be sought out."
"Although we might give the location of our homeworld to people we have observed and made proper contact with... there is a reticence in the government to do so with the majority of the powers in this region of space, based on the little information we have."
"We would be honored to sponsor your people, Fraulein," Anton replied with a smile. "Though, I have to admit that your situation makes me a bit envious." the Baron stated. "We were found before we attained Faster-Than-Light travel, which put us through quite a shock. Luckily, we were left relatively alone. That's mostly because the Yamataian Star Empire, the ones who found us, have been attacked quite frequently by the Mishhuvurthyar. They're currently on their second war with them from what I can understand." the Baron stated.
"Unfortunately, we've lost contact with another power, the United Outer Colonies to our galactic south." Adala stated with a grimace. "While we're currently neutral, I'm afraid it's only a matter of time until we get pulled into this war like the rest of the region."
"What awful times we live in." Nadir gave Adela a quiet look as she spoke and shook his head. "But your situation isn't hopeless, I think. Your vessels seem to be quite powerful, and you are heavy gravity worlders, no?"
"Correct," Adala replied. "I have no doubt the Schirmherrschaft...the Protectorate, would be able to make any invaders pay with their lives. However, I'm afraid my fleet isn't ready for a Mishhuvurthyar invasion. We just recently got our Battlecruisers up and ready, but Battlecruisers and Destroyers won't win wars." the Admiral stated.
"We aren't going to ask you to join us in a war that isn't your own," Anton began quickly, seeming to be a little annoyed the Admiral was talking about this to others. "After all, you have to stake in it. I believe the Admiral was just pointing out that there is the possibility of some trade disruption if we are pulled into this war."
"It's true, we would rather avoid any unnecessary conflicts in the future, but I think you might receive support from my government if this relationship proves to be fortuitous." Nadir said with a grin, steepling his fingers and resting his hands on his lap. He was a little wary of promising too much or giving the wrong perspective. "Off the record, you'll find that the upper echelons of our military command structure is interventionistic."
"The policies of our government support this while curbing its worst excesses. I wouldn't count on our aid, but... you might have it."
Anton seemed to relax a bit and nodded. "I thank you for saying that. While we might not receive any help, the thought is more than appreciated." the Baron replied.
"I believe most of our agenda has been taken care up Herr Rosenthal," Brunhilde informed the elder man.
"Would there be anything on your agenda that still needs to be discussed, Fraulein?" Anton asked the Iroma delegation.
"I believe we are done." Nadir translated for Kumari. "We thank you for allowing us to come to your colony and discuss these matters, and hope this event marks the beginning of good relations between our peoples."
"Indeed," Anton replied before smiling. "Maybe, as relations improve, I could invite you to dine in orbit above my homeworld one day. Though it'd have to be using Iroma cuisine...I'm afraid Abwehran cuisine doesn't sit well in the stomachs of non-Abwehr," the Baron stated with a chuckle.
"Of course, the Junior Minister accepts your offer." Kumari beamed brightly as her military counterpart continued to speak for her in the common tongue. "I'm sure a solution could be found in the interim, for both issues of language and digestion. But in the meantime..."
"We will return to our ship and await news from the Capital." Nadir finished, standing up from his seat and helping her get up from her own. "Thank you for hospitality." Both bowed and spoke in unison before they moved for the door, their mysterious bodyguards in tow.
The Abwehran delegation stood up along with the Iroma delegation and bowed slightly as well before their guests left the room. The trio then glanced at each other in silence before Brunhilde spoke up. "Perhaps...some Gottberre Whisky is in order, ja?"