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  • 📅 December 2022 is YE 44.9 in the RP.

RP Concluded [YSS Imperturbable] Doing politics and the dishes

Soban

Convention Veteran
RP Date
YE 44.5
RP Location
Yamtai
Khelas couldn't fathom it. Strange, alien, and… boring. The idea that the stars never change in this place's sky, that many of these people had never ridden the radiation and plasma of a dying star or flown under the arc of a solar flare, felt the hull juddering around her as she cruised through a nebula, banking deep inwards to feel the twist of mighty magnetic forces and see the glint at the birth of a new star, how the nebula would seem to ignite and glow before falling and being consumed in the fire of birth.

No, this world has seen these things, but as though the people had grown out of it, only to plant flags, stake claims, declare "this is mine and I smite the gods foolish enough to come claim it!"

Then there was gravity. The horizon. Up and down. Nothing but an atmosphere, the interaction of gas and gravity to separate these souls from the infinite void. As she shifted her weight across this Yamataian vessel's simple monodirectional artificial gravity, she narrowed her eyes. She could feel it when the Council had met. Their desire for somewhere to truly call home. She didn't feel it. But she could understand. And it was her job to do what was best for her people. Perhaps one day these strange creatures of carbon flesh and brittle bone could teach her. Turning away from the observation window, she looked across the Yamataian crew curiously. "Then I am to assume we will be landing? Or will we be docking with that space station?"

“Normally, we would be landing at the Uesureyan Fields,” Ranga explained, pointing to the huge space port that was visible from space. They cruised over the space port, and the city, heading north. “However, today we will be landing in the Capital itself, Kyoto. The Palace is where we greet many of the dignitaries who come to visit Yamatai. You are your people’s chosen governor, so it seems appropriate.” Ranga smiled at Khelas.

Giving a soft smile in return, she rolled a shoulder back, casually setting her palm on the base of the knife she had been gifted after her graduation as a civil servant, and considered the suit that she now wore. Where it had been once simple, black and gold with the mark of the diplomat upon her breast, now that mark was woven with the symbol of her councils. She found herself resentful of the scraps of cloth woven between her armor panels, that under null gravity would have given her an indistinct, ethereal and regal form. Now those hung limply around her, like layers of wet fur that would only get in her way. "I suppose. Your landing spot was more convenient than any cultural importance. Your ship came in on the same vector as Himiko. That port happened to border a park. It sounds strange, perhaps even dismissive to put it like that. But… What do you know of our marriage ritual? We tried to emulate it in our meeting."

“Not as much as I might like, why don’t you tell me about it?” Ranga asked.

"When we look at someone, and see something truly special, nothing major or heroic for them. Just doing their normal thing," she reached into one of her wrist storage pouches and offered a pen for inspection, a simple fountain pen, really. But the material was the same as the armor on Khelas's suit, and on the hull of Shurista. "When one of those normal things makes the decision to ask for permanent companionship, we offer a gift made of the burial steel of our family for them. Often we are the ones to make it. We work the steel as long as it takes to make the gift perfect. Or we get help from our families. One of my husbands gave me this. Because he fell in love with my ability to tell a story, and to use that story to convince others of my beliefs. To me, nothing. But it meant everything to him."

Ranga took the pen, playing with it and feeling its weight. The golden metal was eye-catching and used what seemed like everywhere in their society. “We have our own marriage rituals. In some of ours we gather our family, our community together. We then exchange promises, expressing to each other our commitments and hopes for the future. Often with a symbology to help us to remember what we have committed ourselves to.” Ranga explained, handing the pen back to Khelas.

“In a way, this is a marriage. Not of two souls joining together, but of two nations. I haven’t been married myself, but I’ve watched my sister’s marriages. One of them is dating a rather acerbic Separa’Shan. In every relationship, there is a give and take. Rough times as they adjusted to the new relationship with their partner. Your role is going to be that of a mediator, helping to smooth out those wrinkles. I and her majesty will be there to help you as we discover who we are together.” Ranga explained.

"You're not wrong. Thank you, Ranga. I look forward to meeting this lady. And showing your people all the things of our culture that may mean nothing to us, but hopefully you'll cherish. As odd as your living on planets is."

The YSS Imperturbable swooped over the palace complex. Originally built by Empress Yui, it was a tall artistic structure with many wings. The ship landed on the orange landing pad and the ramp slid down for Ranga and Khelas to exit.

Two armed samurai in uniforms with white yukata tops, wide red hakama pants, black leather tabi boots, and gold chest plates met them as they entered the palace grounds. The higher-ranking of the two introduced herself as Tsuya, captain of the palace guard, and asked them to follow her to the throne room.

The two of them moved through the ornate hallways with dark blue carpet and dark stained wood panels, with a golden ceiling with chandeliers every meter or so. On the wall hung various pieces of art, depicting beautiful scenes of nature, battles, and people. The conference room had a similar theme. Gold with wood paneling, a huge fireplace stood behind the throne, and a smaller one at the other end of the conference table.

Yamatai’s Empress entered the room from a side door and took her seat on the throne. She had black, silky hair and big eyes with vivid red irises, and the typical half-elf, half-catgirl ears that Nekovalkyrja often sported. “We are prepared to receive these visitors,” she said, awaiting introductions.

“Presenting her Imperial Majesty, Empress Himiko I of Yamatai, Sovereign of the Yamatai Star Systems, the Elysian Celestial Empire, Gashmere, Ohara, Essia, and the Outer Colonies” Tsuya announced loudly.

Ranga bowed low before the Empress. “Your Majesty, I have the pleasure of bringing Khelas Nascen before you. Her people have chosen her as their recommendation to be your governor in their realm.” Ranga said, introducing the two.

“The Empire welcomes you and your people,” Himiko told Nascen. “It is an unexpected but most agreeable accomplishment for Yamatai to grow in this manner. And just as Yamatai is strengthened by your loyalty, you shall have our loyalty and strength as well. As leaders we understand by way of experience that we live in a universe of inconceivable danger and the best way to protect our people is to work united towards our goals. We are very pleased. Do you agree?”

“For hundreds of thousands of years, my people have hidden among and between the stars. This last disappearance nearly caused our people to riot over the cowardice of our Councils, forcing us back. We have seen death and destruction of foolish kings’ lies dooming worlds and peoples. So when we find life, it is precious, even if warring and taken for granted in your own eyes,” Khelas began, tilting her head as she stood calmly, her hands clasped in front of her. “So I would agree that for our own survival, we must support our community.”

Ranga followed along with the two, listening intently not just to the words, but what was being said in more than words.

“Indeed. We would be pleased to answer any questions you have. What would you like to know?” Himiko asked.

“Nothing too much. I imagine there are going to be points of friction between Yamatai and Shuristan law. I hope to keep that to a minimum Even if it is some weird environmental regulation, by your standards. Such as how Shurista requires all ships that dock, unless otherwise cleared, to undergo an inspection and search for biohazards. And that any samples not declared and properly secured will be destroyed on discovery. This will include all future Star Empire vessels, including military ones. We will not be spreading invasive species across the sector.”

Himiko considered the request, “This is reasonably within your purview. Long as it does not conflict with the laws that apply across the entire Empire, it seems a wise precaution. What other issues have you discovered?”

Ranga nodded, “A more sensitive issue is tying Shurista into our navigation and communications network. They have gone for a long time as a sort of hidden elf village, are wary of tourists, and the entanglements that being findable could cause them. Not just now, but in the future if they decide to move outside of our currently defined territory. Being hidden has kept them safe for a long time.” Ranga explained.

“To be fair, I was hoping to use the Gift of Song as a cultural staple and thus prevent a beacon being placed. But the Council has already begun plans to restore the Golden Dragon as the temporary Yamataian sector of Shurista.”

Himiko nodded thoughtfully and Ranga picked up on what her Empress and in some ways, friend wanted. “The way I see it is that there are three basic options. First, we let them continue to use the Gift of Song system. Second, we have a beacon so it can be located. Third, we place a base on the Shurista.”

Himiko listened intently before asking questions, “Can you teach others your gift of song?”

"Certainly. The songs are oral tradition and sung in the native language. I'm sure one of your digital minded personnel could learn a useable portion just living on the docks too long," Khelas gave a soft shrug. "And I'm sure the handful of Shuristans in your military have the ability to use it. Good chance you already have recordings of some of the keysongs."

Himiko nodded, taking the information in. They did indeed have some of the keysongs. An idea was forming. "Just as you have made a commitment to us, we have commitments to you. I cannot in good conscience let them go unfulfilled. If we can learn the keysongs, then I don't see having them be how you control access as a problem. I think that if we deploy a starfortress to Shurista, and you integrate it into your structure that will resolve my concerns about your security. We will have communications with the fortress via courier, so as to not broadcast your location except in case of a dire emergency. Our fortresses are self sustaining, which will allow you more freedom in how it is integrated into your society." Himiko pulled a map with the estimated current location of Shurista and serveral symbols marking various aspects of the Army's activities on a large display as a server came in.

Himiko glanced at the server then back to Khelas. I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was time for lunch just yet. With your permission, can we eat and work at the same time?"

"Oh! Yes, that sounds wonderful. And I'm sure that integrating a star fortress into Shurista can be done. If you have one we can pick up, we can move Shurista to do it." Furrowing her brows, she tilted her head, considering the ideas being presented. "I can actually point to the exact location of Shurista right now. It's not scheduled to move for another two weeks… whether they follow the schedule or not is a little iffy, but I can be… 90 percent?" Ranga nodded, and the position was updated on the map.

Himiko nodded at the server, and they disappeared into the back. "It looks like the Aquarius star fortress is nearby. It is still under construction, but two of the arms and much of the central body is complete. It's a Zodiac class, so mostly exterior docking compared to an Iori. Do you think that would be acceptable?" She asked as servants set the table for them and brought out huge platters of food. The focus seemed to be on a diversity. Including some of the cannonfruit. One platter had a red ring around it and seemed to be Senti only food.

Ranga smiled, reaching and placing three items and a cannonfruit on Khelas's plate. "Now you can really compare the tastes."

"I take it much of this was grown here," she asked politely, taking a bite of one of the Yamataian offerings. "But if we maneuver to pick it up, I'm sure my people will be happy to start work on its completion, perhaps even building a proper shipyard. If that is okay with your people, of course. Moreover, I'm sure we can maneuver a few things around to give the crew immediate and direct access to our Grand Library.""

Himiko smiled, picking up a cannonfruit and slicing it open. "All of the food we can grow, was grown on farms owned by my clan. Ranga brought back some of your foodstuffs and our cooks tried their hand at making them. I think they would appreciate your honest feedback so they can get better."

"Well, your the spinefish is only slightly undercooked… Your chefs might not have experience with this species, but their talent shows." Khelas gave a happy hum at the complex flavors, considering what was used. "There's a lot we don't typically use in your recipe. It is very good! Careful, that cannonfruit's a little overripe. It might be a bit… spurty."

But as she watched the fruit be sliced open to leak the glowing blue juice, she shrugged. “Not your first experience with that fruit?”

“It is, I just got lucky.” Himiko said, wiping the blue juice that had gotten onto her hands onto a cloth. “I think that putting the fortress near the Grand Library is a good idea. Now that we’ve gotten that question out of the way, what else can I do to help you?” The Empress asked.

“Well, we do make a policy of responding to any signal that might be considered a distress signal… One of those laws we picked up in our travels. And our search and rescue crews are quite skilled. Allowing us to assist in salvage, reclamation, and search and rescue operations might be as much a boon to your people as to ours. After all, it’s dark, cold, and lonely out there. I think that may be half the reason our walking political disaster decided to enlist two years ago.”

Himiko reached for a second piece of the cannonfruit. “Aliset Koun certainly seems to have a unique place in your society. She’s an excellent helmswomen even if her exotic biology and personality has posed some interesting challenges. There are many salvage locations in and around our space, I’ll be sure that you have a map of them to help you with your salvage attempts.”

“Thank you,” Khelas nodded, now sampling a piece of love fruit. “We have tried many times to bring Yamataian computer systems online during our salvage operations. Generally, they self terminate or attempt to scuttle the ship rather than let us attempt to bring them home. In return for that map, we’d be happy to give the comm codes for Katamuran skirmishers and scrappers to consider your ships friendly. While we understand the problems they pose as pirates, they are effective in an antislaver and counterpiracy role. Mostly because they tend to hit other pirates before attacking more well defended targets.”

Himiko ate some cold cuts as Khelas talked, “Katamura concerns me, pirates are a problem, however, as long as they don’t become too bothersome or enter Yamatai. I don’t have to take official notice of them. Intelligence will probably be able to put the codes to good use. How else can I help you to make sure this transition is easier?” She asked.

“I’m not sure there is much to be done. We have already hashed out the logistics and basics of trade… Culture’s going to be a series of personal problems that can’t truly be handled in official capacities… And as long as Yamatai does not attempt to interfere with the First Law for reasons beyond my comprehension, I see no major legal issues. Apologies, Ranga, I took the liberty of reading up on Yamataian law during the trip. Quite interesting. If there are some superfluous procedures.”

“The first law, yes, while I understand why it exists, violating a mind is a heinous crime, I’m not clear on many of the cultural details of its implementation. Can you explain it better to me?” She asked.

"Well, it's based on the idea that all sapients are people. At least until they prove themselves to be otherwise. A sapient being that is not a person is a predator, and an immediate threat to the community that cannot be allowed to exist. So it is exised before the corruption can spread. Thusly, any sapient being that has demonstrated the capacity to violate the mind, body, or soul of another is met with a quick, painless, and clean death. It's fairly simple, and has kept our people from devolving into murderous anarchy for millenia. Because our kin don't necessarily die, the bone handle of our service knives prevent the total integration of the spirit with our goddess, allowing them to heal and be better before their caretaker brings them to her." The tone was soft, though, as though explaining something too simple to misunderstand. That may have been a cultural thing that was implied that every Senti would know.

"Generally, these violators are fairly run of the mill. Slavers, sexual, physical, or emotional abusers, murderers, torturers, or other crimes that have no reason or justification. It's not like we would kill over something as petty as a few gallons of water, no matter how precious the material. But a gallium addict forgetting that others are also people, as what happened to Koun-Chui ten years ago? We cannot tolerate that."”

Himiko listened carefully as she ate a few chocolates. “I think what concerns me about it is not the law itself. Certain violations do deserve the death penalty. What concerns me is the lack of due process and the authorization of vigilantism. We are not Nepleslia or an anarchy. We extend due process to even those who are accused of heinous crimes and are certainly guilty. We do this because we are fallible and we must allow the accused to defend themselves. For us to prove that they did indeed do what they are accused of. We do it because it protects the innocent, not because we want the guilty to go free.”

"And that makes sense. The First Law is named such because it was the first proposition by Sentisura in the aftermath of the Skydas War. I believe his famous argument was to ask if it is still murder if the civil service is the weapon. That said, I believe it won't be difficult to propose this change, or even to get it in writ. The problem will likely be one of cultural dissimilation. Most of our service knives are produced of suicide victims these days, and such crimes against sapience are exceedingly rare, so the issue doesn't come up often enough for it to be trained out of our existing force. However, I will promise to try."”

Himiko nodded sampling some cuts of banana as she worked through the logic, “Does it matter if you murder someone with a gun, a knife, or your hands in your society?”

“Not really. Murder is murder. Some times it is necessary. Most times, not. In order for us to kill under the laws, it has to be verifiable that we are acting in defense of the community. It is not a good thing. But sometimes, evil is necessary. And there are provisions for those cases.”

“So why should it be different if civil service is the weapon? Murder, unjustified killing, is still murder even if the state does it. Indeed, because we are more powerful and harder to hold accountable, it is in many ways worse. How we strive to avoid that is by giving everyone due process, regardless of what they are accused of. So I would answer Sentisura’s question with a ‘yes.’” Himiko explained.

"Then I think this will go just fine," Khelas has finished her portion and begun collecting the dishes offered to her to clean up. Himiko and Ranga also stood and started busing the table with her.

“Put everything on the platters so we can take it to the kitchen. The kitchen distributes leftovers to homeless shelters.” Himiko said and tried to suit words to actions. She picked up one of the three platters awkwardly, the bodyguards leading the small procession to the kitchen. It was clearly an industrial kitchen, made for high volumes of beautiful food. It was almost completely empty at the moment. A Neko with bright yellow panels on their uniform greeted them. “This is the palace chef, Kyan Takiji.” Himiko said, introducing the chef.

“Allright, set the leftovers on that table. We’ll transfer them to pans to go. The dirty dishes go over there, load up the crates, wash the plates off with the hose, and then put them in the hot washer.” She said, directing the three to the various tasks that needed to be done. Ranga took the leftovers over and started moving them while Himiko and Khelas went over to the sink. Himiko picked out a plate a bit awkwardly, clearly not actually really knowing how to clean the dirty dishes very well.

Khelas slipped past Himiko with a smile, taking hold of the hanging hose and squeezing the handle for a quick burst into the sink to guage water pressure, before taking a plate from the stack and blasting the sauces and miniscule scraps off. “Could you knock the larger debris into the trash can, please?”

“Of course,” Himiko said, taking each plate and scraping off the large bits before adding it to the pile. Kyan watched from a distance to make sure things didn’t get too far out of hand and helped Ranga.
 
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