ICON New Empyria

Tiko

Demon Goat
Administrator
as written by Azrican

“Oh please, fucking shoot me.” Josif replied shortly, his teeth bearing for a moment at the slim, auburn haired figure in front of him. The uniform did little to humble him as a ‘civilian official’, as he plucked the belt link and holster from the ornate Charnissian marble that sat upon the nightstand of his bed. He tossed it away onto the pristine Fienkan maple, inducing a scuff upon such a cherished material that might often see an orderly flogged; had Josif fancied himself a man of the ‘older’ tactics. “Please. Really, I like the way you look when you pull a trigger.”

The shirtless man gave a boyish smile at the woman standing with her arms crossed opposite from him. On his desk, at the true end of his desk, laid countless stacks of ‘vitalized’ information: data and various facets of ‘intelligence’ the Prime Minister had found himself just so uninterested in a few hours prior. They were here now, of course, and that was simply something he would need to accommodate for. The fact it was, in New Empyrian time, roughly several hours past noon was not much of a concern to Josif at the moment though; perhaps it was due to the Provocom’s sudden appearance at his residence.

He was, essentially, the leader of the free galaxy of course. Why was some military dog given such easy access to him?

“Provided the Revolt had lasted for a few months longer, I might just consider putting a bullet in you Josif.”

The statement brought a slim, glimmering attitude about the Hykan as he held the comforter over his waist with one hand and fetched at a pair of suit pants he had left on the floor from the night prior. “Oh please my gracious Provocom -- if you’d like to just end me and build a junta feel free.” He replied harshly, dropping the comforter precisely as Jessica had turned to face him.

She was treated to a few, precious, seconds of the capsuleer fitting the pants onto his form before he caught her eyes with his. “I’ll be sure to leave plenty of fucking of civists for you to work with -- you know, those kinda’ guys who just love to pick-and-peck about your funding.”

“I have to make a report to the Federate -- “ General Rohnfeld replied with a flying flinch, turning her entire body from the man standing against the large bed. “And you need to at least promote the image of a dutifully elected slob that doesn’t talk with his … well.”

Josif took a rather defined position at the woman’s words. Then a few minutes later his appearance was one of simple observation: the Empyrian eyed at the Nordanic woman with a shifting look upon her features. “ … I manage a chivalrous appearance, Herr Rohnfeld.” He bluntly said, as he finished buttoning the suit, then foraged for a jacket and shirt. Then he came floundering around the bed and gave Jessica the visage of the First Chairman pointing at her like how he appeared in Federate propaganda images. “I want you, to help me keep this fucking civilization afloat!”

Jessica felt herself recoiling at the despicable, nearly obnoxious man in front of him. The fact he remained in that stoic position waiting for her hand made her want to, in simple terms, commit treason at this very moment.

“You’re an idealist, I get it. Let me assure you General, these situations are … simply political.” He replied, prying the undershirt and jacket from the dresser at the far wall of the room. He was quick to press the neat button-up over his figure, obscuring the deep lines and slips carving about his torso. “You don’t trust people like me, either. I get that, too.”

“You’re not a person Prime Minister.”

Josif bristled, peeking away from his dresser and peering over his shoulder to the Templar. The marine appeared like a tower to the man, her exoskin giving her five or so inches above the man as he dressed himself. “I’m not a what, my General?”

“A person.”

“ … God damn that just makes me feel quite unrealized.” He replied softly, his whole body lowering, the undershirt prying upwards to reveal the lower crests of an Calsatian symbol as he pried a suit jacket up into either arm and then slide it down across his back. “Y’know of all my cabinet members, I value my military commanders the most.” Josif said though a pale, implicating tone dominated his words as he spun around to lean against the dresser. “I’d hate to have to find a new fucking Provocom.”

Jessica’s otherwise soft features were steeled at the man in front of her, as if transmitting just as much a hostility as she received from the figure in front of her. The impetulant man child that was the Prime Minister of the Interstellar Coalition as she had come to know him was, in many of her regards, just that.

Many considered him the leader of the free galaxy. She (in line with the rest of the Apparatus) considered him the leader of the greatest collective of lazy, apathetic know-it-alls this side of the Veil.

“We facilitate coups, we don’t personally enact them, Prime Minister.” She replied, stoically facing him as he decided to properly clothe himself (for now at least) and dress himself in attire that was befitting of the office he held. Josif began to forage through the dresser, looking through entire collections of ties as the sun began to crawl through over the horizon; as seen from New Empyria’s Coalition City. As the first lights began to pierce through the metallic veils of the Prime Minister’s bedroom, both Josif and Jessica seemed to stop for a moment.

His eyes seemed to fix on the blistering star beginning to rise up across the clouds, dousing C-City with it’s rays a whole thirty minutes or so before the rest of the planet; due to the microcontinent’s massive repulsor plates that held the entire city afloat.

Jessica watched the festering night bleed away, purged out by Empyria’s powerful dual suns. She watched the sunlight flood into the room for a moment; saw how it brightened the walls, the way it split through the intricate crystal bust mounted against the wall.

“Provocom … or should I say Jessica?” Josif replied softly, fastening his belt one final loop as the star began to brightly shine above the clouds. Jessica felt herself turning inward at the question, though soon found tranquility with the heated, warm star glistening against a field of clouds that Coalition City was known for.

“Provocom. Though in certain cases … “ The General’s words caught in her throat for a moment, and then more seconds went by without her response. Her hands remained locked by her side, watching the sunrise with this man that had, months ago, been a deadly enemy -- or what he was known before as, was a deadly enemy. She kept a ready eye on Josif Regievko though, the democratically elected Prime Minister of the Interstellar Coalition.

And the man who orchestrated the Iron Revolt.

“In certain cases I can call you Jessica. Wonderful, General. I hope to keep you as a friend.”
 
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Tiko

Demon Goat
Administrator
as written by Azrican

Coalition City was a brilliant, epic construction project nearly a hundred years in the making: still practically incomplete, despite the nearly 547 square kilometers of floating city suspended over the Empyrean megacontinent. Situated over the Pueblan Shield, an ultra-dense pocket of continental shelf forming Empyrea's northern reaches, the great expanse of metal and machinery seemed more like it belonged in a young adult's fantasy novel than the center of the Federate’s massive bureaucracy. If the achievement of Interstella wasn't enough: a nation-city literally composed of practically every human culture that might ever grace the galaxy, well the Coalites just seemed to be one-upping themselves with this.

Her great spires seemed to pierce at any clouds that dare tried to smother her. The winds of storms, nature in all her fury, were buffeted against C-Cit's powerful mass and ingenious atmospheric manipulation. Truthfully, projects (or 'projektz' as his Domovskian attache quips) like these would have been regarded by Josif as bombastic displays of pomp and power. Of course, the cultural and ideological sway a man might have ruling from a 'city in the sky' wasn't to be discounted to Josif but, it was a matter of tact for him.

From the Blue Palace, where he spent most of his time, Coalition City lauded over the northern realms of Empyrea like a giant waiting to ruin the lands before her. Josif kept his visitations to the floating city brief: he could easily spot the great spires that were the Apparatus' War and Peace Towers, the Assemblie’s Center of Nations and the Ministry of Law's Galactic Court from where he stood on the twenty-eighth floor of the Palace. The bay windows stretching across the wall of his secondary office rose easily twenty, thirty or so meters: he essentially sat at his desk looking out at the New Farbanti.

He wasn't at his desk right now however. Regievko had spent the last three and a half hours waiting for correspondence from the floating city-state, only an hour and a half away by airjet but ironically, thousands of miles away for real-time communication. Between 40’s of Aenglian ale and smaller, much more priceless, bottles of Jovian mead Josif had kept himself occupied for the majority of the six hours he had been waiting.

Josif Regievko, progenitor of Gardenite centrism and meticulous overlord of the Young Government stood quietly swilling around a bottle of mead in one hand. Occasionally he'd glance through those massive windows at the city, see it hovering there like a sentinel, scrutinizing the continent beneath it. He'd think for a moment, of just how many people might be milling about over that horizon like he was. It was 7pm around, Empyrean time: many would prepare themselves for a quick airjet home, or even one of the seven subterranean train systems that ran from C-Cit to practically the southern tip of Empyrea. Maybe there was a Federate adjutant just as bored as him, waiting around for an Apparatus dispatch on new encryption keys for thousands and thousands of different units: extending his or her otherwise standard hours to well into the morning, as he was often saddled with.

Then he thought about someone in particular though, as his eyes started to trace those great spires jutting from the western lengths of C-City that were the Apparatus' domain: truly, where all those dark and dirty secrets he knew of firsthand might be stashed.

Josif thought of a slim woman, the uniform hardly descriptive of the impeccable form she was graciously equipped with. Calm, graceful auburn and strawberry hair, albeit with a rather striking personality and crass. Or this particular one's incredible propensity for ruthless inquisition.

He pulled himself away from the window with a grunt, another side of himself catching Josif and quickly snapping in half whatever train of thought he might be entertaining as he recalled that this was an important office. As the duly elected (albeit suspiciously) Prime Minister of the Coalition, practically every waking moment he had was devoted to maintaining this patchwork association of like-minded (but diametrically opposed) nations and states. When he admitted to the fact that the only reason he was still waiting here, and not on a red-flight to New Harmony by now was because of that certain slim woman, he felt his annoyance get the better of him.

Perhaps his 'buddies' might understand a short delay. Or he'd just get the common response. You take governance too seriously.

Those Old Boy networks are something Josif never quite understood, even after his meteoric rise as a “protector” of the Coalition and her states' way of life. Truthfully, he was an everyman when the Coalition found him.

The Blue League, far too cautious of replacing the DSNPC with some artificial system of their own like they had done for nearly 3 centuries, was more than happy to find Josif Regievko. Just as combative as his father, and yet nowhere nearly as malleable (a strength, undoubtedly), he fit the perfect role for the avaunt-garde crusader against the depredations that the Core had been made to suffer during the Colonial Administration. Josif would not mention the massive campaign of revisionism that facilitated his rise. That the Blue League considered he owed them something, if his current policy hadn't explained as much to the alliances. After all, the Prime Minister wasn't truly a position of power: for centuries prior the Prime Minister was, for all intents and purposes, defunct as any sort of legitimate executive in the Federate.

That was of course, until Josif's “brilliant” idea of the ONE. Or as it is commonly called, the Organization of National Executives: the Assembly was indeed, the closest any human had ever come to true, direct, democracy. The Ministry of Law was the closest anything had ever come to legitimate, living law as well.

Why not then, as Josif imagined, could the Prime Minister not oversee a massive conglomeration of those other offices? A council of thousands of men that had proven themselves not only to their people, but to their constituents and neighboring memberstates as well. Or the men and women that embody a culture of innovation and creativity that might not be so adequately represented amongst the Supreme Assembly and Chambers of Government?

If the Assembly had created the perfect melting pot of democracy and the Supreme Chambers a true living law that governed all of human existence, why not then could Josif Regievko construct a chamber of leaders, free-thinkers and statesmen for the sake of advancing the Gardenite ascension to the galaxy?

His ideas for the ONE were kitschy at first, largely sidelined by more pressing international matters. The growing lack of civility in the Commonwealth, otherwise branded the Insurgencies by opportunistic journalists and the sheer apocalyptic reawakening of the Supremacy had given him more than enough support for such an endeavor.

That the mere existence of the ONE ran counter to the entirety of political thought and social cues of the Coalition before it was a tertiary, even a useless, concern as far as Regievko knew. A useless concern for everyone else that might seem to oppose that idea on some idealistic grounds of solidarity and transparency. And then, who were they that doubted Josif's brainchild of the ONE? Who exactly? Was it the same political groups grasping at any straw or rope to keep them afloat that opposed his idea; the concept that any socio-political power slighted by his determination to see all people represented equally has the inherent right to violently resist their duly elected administrator simply because they have no intention of relinquishing authority?

Now Josif found himself swelling with anger, looking out through those windows. With the horizon at least a dozen miles away, he looked cautiously between the floating city and a powerful, grey mass of storm clouds.

How he wished Empyrea might be strong enough to push a hurricane right atop that floating circus of diplomacy and internationalism. How he wished that, for all his intricate planning and want, he had been able to eradicate that damned state-within-a-state that had come to define the Coalition and her countries. Now that he was here, in full control of that very same shadow legion, Josif gave himself a reason to feel content with the prospect that vengeance would be in the eleventh hour soon.
 

Tiko

Demon Goat
Administrator
as written by Azrican

The glimmering spires of Coalition City sparkled against the bright, reddening sky as New Empyrea’s massive star began a slow course into night. The shining picture was framed by the city’s large, floating bow: clouds piercing and sliding across the great structures and high-rises that dominated the city’s incredible view. From here in the Forum buildings, a series of concentric levels and structures at the very heart of the cities’ sprawl, Regievko was able to look down through the large bay windows and see the avenues and alleyways clogged with transport droids or airjets. Occasionally, he could spot an Apparatus 3-ton truck from his eagle’s nest nearly 400 stories above the streets.

He swilled at an old fashioned glass of whiskey-bourbon, sipping at it whenever he wasn’t staring out the window with one arm at the glass. The starchy, polished conference room was quite large, more akin to a professor’s atrium or collegiate forum than a place where diplomatic discussions transpired. Different even from those timid ways of diplomacy many a Gardenite and Imperial knew: the two die-hard revanchists were not above communicating when it suited them, but also not above ignoring the other when needed. Fortunately, or at least as Regievko knew it in his mind, the primary was a policy adopted widely across the Gardenite powers.

There were men, in both the Reichsammverlung and Supreme Chambers that espoused there could be no dialogue without violence, no diplomacy without bloodshed: what was often unanswered, to the Prime Minister’s suggestion, was whose blood shall be spilt.


Petros Zhirayr, First Minister of the Interstellar States and Senior Chairman of the ONE, coughed after taking a long swig of his own glass and straightened the cufflinks out of his ornate suit. “Christ sakes that shit must’ve been left in a Tannhauser sewer.” Petros managed, swiping the top of his hand across his mouth and grimacing. Next, he reached to a small cigarette holder.

“These Expanse states,” Regievko began, turning away from the window as a flight of airjets reached into the sky. He approached the large wooden table, fitted with ornate plastic sidings and top, to slam the glass down. He motioned for Petros to toss a smoke and a light, catching both with one hand as he plugged the stick of paper of tobacco in between his lips. “It’s unbecoming of the Supremacy to make a bold move for the dregs beyond the Veil.”

“C’mon, Jos. Who knows what the Kampfs are thinking, I mean for all we know -- “ Petros adjusted his glasses and then raised a sheaf of paper up in front of his face, studying communiques and dispatches sent between the various agencies needed to facilitate this covert, yet important, face-to-face meeting. “Josefine’s squeezing him for something out there. What it is? Hell if I know.”

“Always the voice of diplomacy.” Regievko said with a quick swig of the glass again. Petros tapped his cigarette into an ashtray while the other split through the leaflets and papers in front of him.

“You know how the Imperials are, quick to give a hand and quick to get it bitten.” He remarked, adjusting his glasses slightly before he spun in his chair to face the Prime Minister. “This isn’t a game of humanitarian paddie-cakes, the Southern Reaches is another empire game.”

“What do we know of their allies in the Reaches?” He inquired, standing calmly with one hand at his side. The alliances and power-plays of the two societies were not often above proxy wars, but they were not so reckless to grind lesser states up in their ambitions - without due necessity of course.

"Some podunk neo-monarchy beyond the Veil's Shore, or as the Exogarden forces call it the Local Region." Petros replied, putting his papers down and knowing he had a particular dossier for the Prime Minister's question. He found it after a few short curses and disgruntled sounds, pulling it from a manila folder and then offering it the Regievko. "It's safe to assume the Supremacy's choice in an ally is merely convenience -- this state is the closest to being considered a transgalactic power."

"Probably why the Supremacy decided to throw their lot in with new arrivals. I'm sure the Emperor will have a clearer explanation -- and what about us, there anything in the Local Region we can back?"

Petros took his glasses off and leaned back in his chair, slipping one arm up against his side as he deliberated the inquiry for a moment. "Last time I spoke with Makadyrov, he found nothing suitable in the Local Region -- various planets at various states of technology and culture but, nothing suitable."

"Apparently our standards are a bit too high, if the Imperials seemed to have found a suitable host." Regievko said indignantly, taking the last swig of his bourbon and placing the glass next to the bottle for a later refill. Petros shook his head with a little mutter as the device in the center of the table began beeping obnoxiously, indication that their guest would be arriving soon after a thorough and clandestine operation moving what could easily be described as the Coalition's greatest enemy into the heart of the civilization's government.
 

Tiko

Demon Goat
Administrator
as written by Ottoman

It was always something of a hassle to attend these private conferences in Coalition City, Josef having long figured that it was all the legwork in getting here that kept Josefine so happy to hold down the fort whenever these meetings came up, but living for as long as he had imparted the man some degree of patience, if nothing else. Josef weathered whatever tedious procedures and petty rituals that the Empyrian puppets put him through without comment or complaint, eager to read the magazines that they kept in these waiting rooms if for nothing else than nostalgia. A light smile played across his imperial features as he looked through them, as it had been literal centuries since he had held a tabloid in his hands, and though the literature - if it could even be called that - revolved around celebrity infidelity and the fluctuating body weight of the same individuals, he found it almost refreshing to revisit something from his youth. These sorts of things were everywhere, even in Austra, before the Unification Wars.

Before the Exodus.

The pleasant nostalgia of what-had-been faded into a wistful longing, one that was better to wait out staring at the vapid publication in his hands than to look about him, to see that he was among those that had stolen so much from him. The autocrat forced his mind into judgmental analysis of the men and women on the pages in front of him, comparing them to their counterparts in the Supremacy, burying his thoughts with hatred for the culture and degeneracy of those his folk had the misfortune of calling cousins. Despite the heat of his passion, how utterly the man despised the Coalition, the Austran hardly showed his change in mood, looking annoyed more than infuriated: his smile had vanished, his brow had angled, and a tiresome sigh slipped out on his breath.

It was one that most expected him to wear, and thus warranted little reaction from those sent to fetch him, his escorts unphased that they walked on the flanks of the supreme leader of the Coalition's sworn enemy. It was for the best that there was something of a walk to the conference room, giving time for Kampf to focus his mind and his thoughts, both turning again to the reasons for this visit. The situation beyond the Veil was always a fluid one, the Exogarden proving a new theater of the game that both Scatterran powers had been playing for quite some time now, but the situation had become even more curious of late.

His dark form strode into the conference chamber with definite authority, circling the table with a measured pace that gave little indication that he was hundreds of lightyears from the nearest Imperial outpost. A gloved hand moved to gently pull the peaked cap from his brow and lay it on the table before him, ancient badges catching the fleeting crimson light as he did, facing opposite of the setting sun as he purposefully claimed the head of the table. "Gentlemen." Kampf looking first to Petros, then to Regievko. "I apologize for my tardiness - your people are thorough, as always." The Austran's tone made it sound like praise, though it could just as easily prove a backhanded compliment - a comment on their dedication or a criticism of their inefficiency. Jade eyes dashed from the Prime Minister to the bottle that lay not but an arm's length away from his Hykan counterpart, a playful curl coming to the Emperor's lips.

"Byzantine Brandy again, or something a bit stronger?" He didn't mind either, and would welcome the distraction in fact. What news he brought with him, if it could be called news anymore, didn't have him in the best mood. Josef wasn't certain just how closely the Coalition kept tabs on the Exogarden or the Local Sector, but after the embarrassing incident with Hrethgir he had made sure to take a particular interest in it, and it had yielded the most curious bouts of information. Information which had lead the God-Emperor here not to parley, but to bargain.
 

Tiko

Demon Goat
Administrator
as written by Azrican and Ottoman

The two men at the long end of the table looked to the door as the Emperor offered, the Scatterran greeting the other statesmen with a calmness that had come to dominate the last trappings of government men like Regievko and Kampf were given the reigns to. While the trumpets blared of the great characters on screen and at the pulpit or altar the decisions and solutions to be found behind these walls and amongst these minds would be considered far too painful a reality for most to accept. A far too damning glimpse of how the galaxy truly functioned that many, quite everyone forced to endure it besides the three men in this room right now, often wanted to recognize. The simplicity and callousness with which these men seemed to address the problems didn't always endear them to their wanting public however, perhaps Regievko moreso than Kampf -- as a living god had his influence -- but even an Imperial and a Gardenite knew the dangers of reckless policy or unfettered advance.

Petros offered a curt welcome, laying his reading glasses onto the papers in front of him as the Emperor spoke. The Charnissian leaned out the chair, pulling out a stout glass for the Imperial and setting it off at the single chair at least a meter away from him. "Wilkommen, Emperor: we had just decided the Byzantine small-batch would have been a much better choice." He said, putting his chin onto his palm. Petros had to crane his head to speak with the Prime Minister down the table beside him, Regievko stood across the ornate furniture dominating the room swilling about the glass in his hand. "Jos' poor taste damns a bilateral deliberation again," Petros joked with a chuckle, Regievko fidgeting at the tie of his suit and then dismissively waving at the seated man.

“If we were such simpletons to go to war over just a bad lick.” Regievko replied, bringing the glass up to welcome Kampf at a seat as well: if he dared, the Imperial was as welcome to suffer the same as Petros. “I had to find something to capture my opinion of these … outlanders and stories I’ve heard coming from the Expanse.” He began, giving Petros a slight nod letting the man return to his stacks of paper and folders.

“The Austran ears reach farther than the Veil, running out into the bush was always your thing.” Regievko continued, planting his glass on the table and then folding two hands across one another. In all the vastness of this entire facility, and perhaps New Empyrea itself, he would be hard pressed to find anyone in his own government (or their constituents) concerned with any happenings beyond the Veil.

The truth of the Exogarden was, a strong arm policy meant to solidify the Federate’s authority beyond the Veil when the inevitable fallout of the Insurgencies moved south. In this way, Regievko anticipated that the Imperials were aware of states and civilizations that in perhaps a decade now, would again become the battlezones of the Empire War and Insurgencies. Knowledge was brief and fleeting of these new possible allies and enemies, though for the Federate a list of suitable actors was limited for the ambitions upon the Local Region. So largely, Regievko left the Exogarden to excess and wallow as a bastion of those deemed politically unreliable, or those that had no place in this New Garden the Federate spoke of so grandly. "The states and civilizations we might find beyond that Veil may be interesting and kitschy but I think we've learned the lesson of what might find us if we go traipsing about the galaxy."

____

"Is that so?" The Austran inquired as the glass found itself caught by quick fingers and a deft hand, held by a pair of the former as he looked over to the Senior Minister. He spoke in fluent, practiced Aenglis, even if it did possess a definite Kestian dialect - it was simply the Aenglis that he had learned, and most seemed to have no trouble with it - and paid Zhirayr a genuine smile. "You're worrying me, Petros." Something to capture his opinion of the outlanders? Judging from Petros that opinion wasn't very high, or at least was rather bitter. Kampf thought that he was the one who was supposed to be the xenophobic gardenite, at least according to what they put out on the news here. It was of little consequence to the Kaiser of course, as he knew the truth, and the lies of lesser men would never change it.

The Imperial started about the table at a gingerly pace, eyes not so much focused on the room as on the vista outside, the evening soon giving way to the twilight of dusk against the splendor of Coalition City. It was beautiful in the way that Neu-Lumen was beautiful, the achievements of a modern Scatterran power crafted in its own image - unfettered by the memory or pain of yesteryear, of Scatter. Josefine loved the sentiment and he understood why, but he could never deny his nature as a man of the past. It was that nature that preserved the war, hot and cold, that divided the Scatterran peoples, both between the Coalition and Supremacy and further in each camp. Perhaps it also vested him with the capability - no, the responsibility - to lead the Scatterran people, all people, to the destiny which called out to them. A single ramjet pulled a sharp contrail over the metropolis before him, ringing the dipping red sun with a pink half-halo far above its brow, and he wished, as he sometimes did, that this cross had fallen to someone else to bear.

But such wishes were pointless and served no end except to endanger the negotiations he found himself in now, the Austran turning away from the window and instead towards the young premier Regievko, "You know me, Josif," The Kaiser offered the Austro-Hykan his free hand to shake, glad to be with someone aside from Josefine who understood, at least on some levels, his life and the struggles therein. "Ever the romantic." The Scatterran powers may have the Veil to hide behind for now, the Garden truly was their home, but they would have to leave their nest at some point, to trade their down for fledgling feathers and take to the stars beyond. Soon enough the Kaiser had poured himself a generous glass, curious to see whether the Senior Minister's criticisms were well-founded, and started back around the opposite side of the table, stopping briefly to offer Petros a light, silent grasp on the shoulder - as one would a comrade, when words aren't necessary.

It was only as Kampf neared his seat once more that Regievko spoke and stilled the pace of the elder statesman, the bourbon lilting slightly in the glass as he halted. There was the reference to his blunder centuries ago, of course, an insult even if it was not meant as such, but what struck him more was the ignorance on his counterpart's behalf - a quip aimed at his efforts to spread Scatterran civilization to the galaxy that cut Josef far deeper than any cheap jab at the flashpoint with the Collective could. "I pray still," Kampf murmured as he took his seat, settling into it as he crossed his legs and took a whiff of his tumbler, "That we don't learn the lesson of what hiding under the bed in a burning house will do for us." Hiding in the Garden would get them no where but the Garden, and Josef Kampf was not the sort of man who was content to simply survive. Though he would survive, by tooth and nail if he must, that was not his objective in life - no, there was more to life than simply surviving, there was a purpose to it. That purpose which had given his life structure, direction and objective when everything else crumbled and burned around him, when the life that he knew had been incinerated in the atomic fires of the Exodus, that had given him the drive to stand back up and push back. The purpose that he would spread to the galaxy and beyond or die trying, for that purpose was the greatest calling he had ever known and had given him the greatest gift he had ever received.

Because that purpose had given him hope.

But more often than not his idealism fell on deaf ears here, and so he refrained from speaking his thoughts, from sharing yet again the purpose that had made the Supremacy the bastion of civilization that it was in the darkness of the night, lest they lose the purpose of the council. "The states, if we can call them that, beyond the Veil are certainly kitschy, Josif - I will give you that - but they are also, as you say, interesting. Not for what they are, but what they have it in them to become - their potential." Certainly, like many of the civilizations and states that they had found within the Veil, that now were proud parts of their respective nations: the Insekt, the Ikarans, the Zwerg. There was a definite precedent for integration, a successful one at that, and Josef found that it was the same integral element to his own Imperial philosophy simply applied to foreigners instead of their own folk. Instead of a Rakistani, who was to say that a Zwerg didn't, or couldn't, have a brilliant mind, a valorous heart, or a kind spirit? Not him, and he was God as far as so many were concerned - the fate of the the individual was in their own hands to forge, not in his, not in some Grand Creator's. The galaxy at large was the master of its own fate, and whether or not the Scatterran powers embraced this fact could lead to a new golden age or doom them to extinction.

"Replace a despot with a king, a kleptocrat with a republican. Strip away the rotten veneer of divisive paganism and install unitary purpose. We rose above these petty means, and so too can the galaxy at large - with our guidance." Which brought him to the point of their council, as it was. His free hand moved to fish a datachip from a pocket and inserting it into the table's interface at his seat, a quick dash of his fingers bringing a holographic display to life in the center of the table before all gathered. What was revealed was a map of the galaxy, the Kaiser tightening the display to include that of the Local Sector beyond the Veil, and of the United Aschen Empire, as they called themselves. "It's come to my attention that your Apparatus has taken a particular interest in the Local Region, Josif - is there any particular reason?" Josef wasn't aware of any particular value in the place, aside from the usual raw material and mineral value that would occur with whatever planets happened to be there, and was genuinely curious as to the objectives of the Exogarden Fleet that Hrethgir had brought to his attention.

"Cooperation might further our respective goals, prime minister."

____

“The Emperor brings a different perspective clearly.” Regievko said, twisting a finger along the rim of an empty glass as he waited an opportunity to satisfy his own thirst. Few would like to acknowledge that one of the benefits of government, or more like a requirement, was a constant flow of alcohol. Wars had been averted, declared, won and lost with all mixture of liquors and brews in between them.

Petros’ twisted a pencil with two fingers, nodding in recognition as the Emperor spoke and the three men digested the opinions and statements. It was an irony to note, at least as Regievko saw it, that his government was the one adamant about maintaining as distant a relationship with these new civilizations as possible: the Prime Minister would be faced with an incredible challenge to find someone, anyone, Federate, civilian or otherwise, who would have enough confidence in these untried peoples and societies. So the opinion then, largely, would be to leave them in the lurch: the calculated decision that, often, would entail these states inevitable destruction either by the Scatterrans or a far, far worse power.

"I think the standing policy of our major powers still functions, even with these new races -- our romanticism and ideology may be enough to welcome these poor souls to a greater fold." Regievko said, studying the glass in his hand for a few seconds as he spoke. Quite a few would make an argument that a relentless colonial game would see the two Scatterran powers burn themselves out and become just another island of sentience in the depths of space, indeed they'd end up no better than these groups the Gardenites and Imperials were now deciding the fates of. "I would pray such rhetoric redeems them." Regievko admitted, looking down at Petros who gave an addled shrug in agreement as well. Crossing one leg over the other, Petros let out an exasperated sigh and reached out for the glass of his own.

"Yeah, yeah, four out of five may happily do so. Then what?" Petros said, his concern appearing to both Kampf and the Prime Minister as he took back a few gulps of the brandy. His other hand peeled through a few sheets of paper, emblazoned with various agency stamps and codes. "Wishful thinking sure, but what happens when they start asking questions? From what I've read these civilizations are infantile, premature ... ignorant." Petros remarked with a dismissive motion, glancing out the window in thought: there was certainly no one that said their kind hadn't been in the same crushing cycle once, but no Terran would understand the achievements and liberties that had been won under the aegis of Scatterran intervention. Truly, many will likely feel quite threatened by these new, impressive powers: change waits for no man, however, and this Petros knew clearly.

"We're men of government but idealism was ... " Petros stifled a bit of a laugh as he thought over his words, taking a long swig of the brandy. "I had a lot less gray in my hair when I thought like that."

____

"... and there I was thinking you kept me around for my looks." The Kaiser jested. Of course he brought a different perspective, they were diametrically opposed. They shared the same goals, the same ends, every means to achieve them varied on some level - some great, some small. The Austran glanced to the glass he had poured himself, swirling the liquor about for a moment or two before he elected to take a sip. It was smooth on the tongue but a great deal more harsh the further it went, the God-Emperor could see where it might disagree with Petros and where it might disagree with himself, given enough of it. The tumbler returned to the table, though the Emperor was careful to set it down gently.

He didn't find a bit of it ironic, as it was just the way things were. It was natural to Josef that he sought, desired, to empower the masses, to give them the capability and drive to rise to the occasion, to persevere no matter the odds. It was his duty to encourage them to be more than they were now, to give them the means to forge their own path and make something greater than themselves, as it had fallen to him to lead his nation in its most trying times - times which had yet to cease. It would be a disservice to his people to step down prematurely, when the foundation of their civilization was not firmly set, to doom them to infighting and chaos when they had grown so accustomed to order and civility. These were the demands of his office, the duties of a statesman: to see his land through for the better, no matter how long or hard the road was - Regievko should understand that as the steward of the Coalition. But did Josif understand that it wasn't simply about him anymore? That the people, his constituents, watched his every move, listened to his every word? That he could shape the course of the Coalition simply by the way he acted day to day? Josef doubted the Hykan did, but Regievko was a young man still, and had yet to experience life in earnest. Kampf didn't expect him to understand the duties of a father.

The Kaiser made no move to challenge Petros' assessment of the peoples beyond the Veil, it was an accurate analysis by any objective means. They certainly were petty, squabbling sorts who were far more concerned with lasting until the next day rather than forging anything to last, building monuments of industry or intellect. If anything, Josef nodded at Senior Minister's words, confirming them unabashedly - it was the truth, and there was no reason to shy away from it. "That they are, Petros, but how else would you expect children to act? Children left to fend for themselves in a merciless and unforgiving galaxy?" It wasn't unlike the lurkers he'd heard of, the unregistered excess population of the urban centers of the Supremacy - they were infantile, feral, hostile, but they were that way because they had to be in order to survive. They were that way because no one had taught them any better. But Josef had read the reports, the ones about the rehabilitated lurkers - the dregs and pickpockets that were sent through officers academy on the state's tab, and what vehement leaders they made, what staunch patriots and proponents of civic virtue they'd become, once they were simply shown the way - and that only strengthened his resolve now. "Who are we to stand idly by when we are the ones in the best position to show them the way?" Perhaps it was some desire for redemption that drove him to help these people rise above their backward ways - his way of repenting for the Exodus, for the scars that lingered on the Garden and on himself - to help them know and understand civilization as the Scatterrans did.

"Would any of us be sitting at this table now, were it not for our fathers?"

____

“The Emperor has a point.” Regievko admitted, letting the Austran’s words sink into his mind as well. The rhetoric and zeal wasn’t lost upon him, but certainly never held so much weight in Regievko’s soul as it did in the Emperor. Given the time and determination, life achieved where elsewhere it had failed prior: these civilizations were young and untapped but also, possibly dangerous and uncontrollable. The powers that be in the Garden were very cautious of Terrans, Gardenite or otherwise. Perhaps the Emperor had yet to truly experience just how deep the Terrans could fall, or how dark they can be made to become, but there was little to convince Regievko these civilizations would be any different from the groups the Prime Minister has encountered, and come to control, previously. “There is truth in those words, that they deserve a chance to achieve just as we have -- Petros’ opinions notwithstanding, if there is a civilization worthy of inclusion in the Garden, I believe the wise decision would be to welcome them.”

Regievko acquired the bottle again for a refill, looking between Petros and Josef as the Senior Chairman seemed to be deliberating something. Calmly tapping the end of the pencil at the side of his temple, Petros spoke while his eyes locked onto a flickering hologram of the Expanse, as it was coming to be called; the wide open, and dangerous, galaxy beyond the Veil. “My biggest concern is, what’s the point of it?” He admitted slowly, eyes tracing across the glimmering stars and whispering specs of dust tinging the galaxy all sorts of colors.

“I’ve got more than enough to worry about without even going anywhere near the Veil -- between the Outer Territories and the carcass of the Commonwealth.” Petros continued, a dismissive motion all he could reply with: while indeed not the kind of man to back down from a fight, and duty, Petros’ opinions were dominated, like his politics, by the tribulations and adversity the Chairman had endured. "Between the Apparatus and the alliances, I would be impressed to find anyone willing to take a chance beyond the Veil."

Regievko stood rather still, ears open to Petros' reply while his eyes glanced about the galactic map. "That, I think is where I can contribute." Regievko said, adjusting his stance and then stretching a finger out at a small glowing icon. "The DSNPC used to use the Exogarden for political prisoners, or ambitious officers -- really, anyone who looked at them the wrong way." He said bluntly, though if he felt such about the moral bankruptcy of the Exogarden forces, he certainly made no attempt to undo them. "There's about twelve and a half billion personnel at any given point -- it's not a military district, but." He said, putting his glass to the table and then crossing his arms.

"You want to turn a border-guard into an offensive military?" Petros replied haphazardly, peeking between sheaf's of paper and the hologram in front of him. "Let's hope the Chambers don't get word of this," He said while leaning forward to sift through the starchy paper and folders. "So those Exogarden forces play the part, and then what?"

____

Josef had been witness to six centuries of history, and though he had seen depravity and darkness in that time he still found himself hopeful. There was a time when Scatterrans themselves, the stewards of civilization in this dark age, were so embroiled in their own conflicts that they couldn't see the larger picture, a time when they were more keen on fighting than cooperation, no matter the cost. The price to be paid, both by themselves and their progeny, was so terrible that it still echoed today, in the actions and movements of their civilization as a whole - their homeworld, Scatter, was scarred beyond recovery. It wasn't that life hadn't returned to its charred surface - it teemed with it now, in fact - but rather that the world-that-was could never return, the planet that the Scatterran people had known existed now as a distant concept, some vague link that united the peoples of the Coalition and the Supremacy, and as a memory of the Austran sitting at the table.

For every morning he woke, despite the achievements of the Supremacy and of the valor of his people, there was a part of him that regretted what he had set in motion.

No, Josef understood the capability of the Terrans and other Exogardens for depravity, perhaps better than anyone else in the room, as he had been one of the chief perpetrators of such misery on his own people. He was thankful that he had come to his revelation, even if it was bathed in the blood of Scatterran innocence. Yes, it had been a terrible price, Josef would not deny that fact, but he would do his best to make sure that it was not in vain - he would keep other worlds, other civilizations, from making the same mistake. He would steer them away from centuries of warfare, of political radicalism and interstellar revanchism, to spare them the dismal fate that had befallen the Scatterran races, even if it mean waging unrelenting warfare upon them.

"To strengthen the bulwark of civilization, Petros." Josef offered in a matter-of-fact tone, to him it was obvious what the point was, so much so that he didn't even have to speak its name. "Troubles we have aplenty in the Garden, I know, but one stands above the rest." The Collective was, for lack of a better term, a threat to collective Scatterran existence - already they had shown their determination to eradicate them, and had only recently slowed their pace. Kampf didn't care for the lull in the fighting, as it felt more and more like the eye of a storm to him the longer it lingered. What the powers south of the Veil could contribute, if there were 'powers' south of the Veil, were legion: industry, raw materials, and, perhaps the most important of them all, manpower.

"They cut out the tumor that plagues the Expanse." The Kaiser interjected. This was the crux of the whole meeting, wasn't it? With an arched brow the Austran leaned forward, his own finger gesturing to the space south of the Veil, adjacent to the Local Region and the sigil of the Exogarden Fleet. "In return for unrestricted influence the Local Region, your mercenaries will topple this 'Aschen' regime and the Apparatus will not interfere in the Imperial rehabilitation of Terran civilization." It was a bold proposition, but Josef Kampf didn't become the God-Emperor of the Supremacy by backing down from opportunity - and this was quite the opportunity for both powers to come out ahead. The Supremacy gained the infrastructure of the Aschen regime and a capable Terran populace, while the Coalition rid itself of a liability and came away with untapped territory that dwarfed the declared borders of the United Aschen Empire. "A fair trade if I ever proposed one, gentlemen."

____

“I don’t think these people will consider our decisions ‘fair’ and truly egalitarian -- what they don’t know won’t hurt them though.” Regievko said, closing his hands together and resting his chin in the palm of one. The Emperor was well known for an intellect that led him to opt for subtlety rather than method’s like the carrot and the stick: a policy that Regievko knew, whether he resisted it or not, would become the dominant methods of the Exogarden beyond the Veil. This was merely the fate of those civilizations, that they weren’t born here. The statement would draw outrage from Regievko’s constituents, the Supremacy as well: none were truly callous (and some might say, far less enlightened) as the three men here now that understood the fact’s acknowledgement was not a sign of bigotry.

Merely, in what it meant to these three men, they had failed somewhere in their duties of making that fact irrelevant. The Prime Minister studied the map over and over again, revisiting the same plots of dust and swimming constellations, the same broken lines of Starlane and hyperdrive routes. “Sounds like brain surgeons trading patient's dying on the table if I speak honestly, but nothing ever came from neglecting a challenge.”

“This isn’t really a game of darts however, the Exogarden can fight a conventional war but the Local Region is a mess as it is. The last thing we would want is to overstretch what little forces are beyond the Veil, from the Apparatus or otherwise.” Petros remarked, stating his brief opinion as he peeked up from the sheaf of papers on the table.

“Just as reason, for such if this Aschen Empire were to fall the Apparatus has no wider interest. The military threats to the Exogarden fleets are numerous, the Aschen are themselves one possibility they have just yet to encounter.” Regievko said, placing two hands on the table and studying Petros’ word until he glanced to Kampf. With the rising threats in the territories of the Coalition, far removed from not only the secret war amongst the Scatterrans but the Federate and her constituents attention as well, there was next to nothing by the way of military forces to be spared. Even reinforcement of the Exogarden was sporadic at best. The Prime Minister wasn’t unaware of the forces the Exogarden did possess however: if needed, they would indeed be a lethally force. Whereas success would depend on their command just as much.

"If these Aschen are the ones the Imperials choose though, I think the same honor of those fathers prior bound us to agree." Petros said flatly, swirling around a glass over the table until he took a drink. The maps hovering over the table transitioned through several other spectrum and displays. "What exactly will this Aschen apprenticing of the Supremacy entail however?"
 
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