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25 Tense Diplomacy With the Monarchy

 "King Margold, is there a reason behind your cooperation with the two criminals who appeared on this planet two years ago?" Major Harold addressed the king of the Folkien Empire within the royal hall, his spacesuit automatically translating his words into the Vulpes language.

King Margold didn't show any weakness toward the Galactic Fleet Major, calmly looking at Andromeda Federation Prime Minister and twenty special forces soldiers tightly guarding him. Each soldier looked relaxed, but was tightly holding a standard issue plasma rifle in a position which could be readied as soon as they entered a combat state. Captain Argentear also stood by Major Harold's side, his expression dark like a brooding storm.

"Our empire has formed no cooperation with the aliens you speak of. To say such to us, is but a blatant accusation."

Prime Minister Mortimus stood back and watched the show, but Captain Argentear seemed to be unable to bear the façade any longer. He abruptly stepped forward and used his spacesuit to display a holographic image of the empire's Thunderfox Mk III Juggernaut.

"Nonsense! This tank clearly has a large molecular destabiliser installed as the main artillery, not only of which is an illegal technology to be utilized as a weapon, as stipulated by federation law, but clearly well above this planet's technological level! You have clearly colluded with the criminals in the creation of these weapons!"

"Captain Argentear, was it? Our race has always used sonic based weapons to neutralize riots and criminals. We are weak to loud and high-pitch sounds after all. This is an extension of that technology to produce a concentrated high frequency concussive blast designed to kill enemy soldiers," King Margold explained without batting an eye. "Not to mention, we are not a part of this so called 'federation' of yours, so your laws are inapplicable to us."

Captain Argentear wanted to refute the king's words, which were obviously lies, but was stopped by Major Harold who placed a hand on his shoulder and violently pulled him back. Prime Minister Mortimus listened to this and nodded his head, the spacesuit helmet hiding the grin painting his lips.

"I understand, but we are all of the human race, even if our specie is different. We don't like to see genocide among our kind as long as we can prevent it," Major Harold spoke in a strict military tone. "Perhaps we can offer to serve as a mediatory in negotiations of peace between the countries of this world."

"Impossible."

The single word from the king stunned Major Harold.

"There is nothing that is impossible. With time and effort, peace can be achieved."

King Margold actually sneered in response, breaking his regal demeanour for the first time.

"You are idealistic, Major Harold. Our world has been at war for the past 150 years. Too much pain and hatred has spread. There isn't a single family in any empire which hasn't suffered the pain of losing a loved one. Even if we decided to advocate peace, our enemy would never accept it. There is no method left for our world but to continue fighting until only one empire remains."

Major Harold merely nodded, as if he was expecting this to be an impossible task. "Very well, it is true that you are not under the jurisdiction of the federation, so we cannot impose. However, if you are found to be using technology not native to your world, we will be forced to intervene and prevent a genocide."

"We understand," King Margold's voice was calm, but inside he was burning with fury. 'Bullshit! If we didn't have these weapons, our entire race would remain in a stalemate, whittling ourselves down until there is nothing left! And you want to intervene to return us to such a state?! Who do you think you are?!'

Of course, King Margold didn't voice his fury. He was helpless to defend against the ten thousand battleships in orbit around the planet if they decided to intervene.

"King Margold, I am the Prime Minister of the Andromeda Federation," Mortimus finally spoke up, his words causing mixed expression from King Margold. "For me to personally come, I assume you should realize the importance of this matter. Our purpose here this time is not hostile, we merely wish to bring back the two criminals currently residing on this planet."

"Are you telling us that once you capture them, you will leave?" The King didn't believe the man in front of him was such an important personage as the Prime Minister, but something about the man's voice gave the King a sense of discomfort. He just couldn't put his finger on exactly what it was that made him feel that way.

"Yes."

"Very well, we will not stop you from your task as long as it does not affect our citizens."

King Margold and the Folkien Empire had already gained enormously from Ivan and Mazur, so he didn't hesitate to turn his back on them for the greater interest. Secretly though, he had doubts as to whether the Galactic Fleet could actually capture the two of them. They were mysterious on an unfathomable level, with the ability to fly, vanish in space, and bullets simply passed straight through them.

Prime Minister Mortimus nodded his head in understanding.

"Excuse me, Prime Minister, but I must address a concern of mine. King Margold, we are currently searching for the two, but our planetary optics have failed to locate them. Is your empire harbouring these two criminals in a location we cannot locate them?" Major Harold asked suspiciously, hoping to catch them earlier than stipulated in the plan. He was aware the situation of the war against the Scalians at the edge of the galaxy and didn't want to delay any longer than necessary.

"We do not know. The two you are looking for disappeared onto their ship along with a thousand local citizens under the pretence of developing new land. The ship however, never left. They claimed they would return in a year at that time, but should still be on the ship."

Major Harold frowned in consternation before saying, "Understood, they may have a shielding device which prevented us from detecting their life signs in the ship. We will open it up and investigate. They have to be on this planet somewhere though, so our battleships and destroyers in orbit will continue to scour the globe looking for them."

"We will have our soldiers remain around the perimeter of the ship. We shall not allow our citizen to get too close and be subject to danger. Our soldiers will be instructed not to obstruct you."

King Margold, Major Harold and Prime Minister Mortimus came to an agreement in which the Galactic Fleet would inspect the ship.

The Galactic Fleet evacuated from the Folkien Empire capital and stationed its forces around the Poseidon. They cut a hole in the bottom of the cargo hold and invaded the ship from it, but there truly wasn't anybody on the ship. All the found of interest, were 1000 stasis pods which were heavily modified and large piles of a grayish-black ash surrounding them.

"Major, Prime Minister, I suspect the criminals are doing something truly unethical," Captain Argentear said with a dark expression as he looked at the modified stasis pods.

Major Harold was also concerned with the eerie atmosphere present in the cargo hold. "You are jumping to conclusions, Captain. We don't know what happened here."

Prime Minister Mortimus calmly looked over all the pods, not offering any input into the scenario. He maintained his silence as he inspected each part of the cargo hold. If Major Harold or Captain Argentear were to look through the visor of his spacesuit at the moment, he would see an expression bearing a great sadness.

"Nonsense! A thousand locals entered here, then disappeared. There are also a thousand stasis pods. Two people might be able to sneak away undetected, but not a thousand. The two criminals are clearly doing human experimentation here, the kind which doesn't leave bodies."

Major Harold hesitated but didn't reply in the end. He didn't want to admit that it seemed that way, and that it was those exact people who the federation was in desperate need of. It broke all of his moral codes and he struggled to adhere to what he had been commanded to do.

Captain Argentear commanded several of the special forces soldiers to carry out one of the stasis pods and a large portion of the ash like matter. Once it was sent up to his ship for inspection, they could determine exactly what the purpose of the stasis pod was for, and perhaps what had happened.

The Prime Minister saw these people removing the modified stasis pod and collected the ash like powder. He was contemplating preventing them and ordering them not to touch anything, but them taking a single stasis pod shouldn't matter.

Major Harold went straight back to the cruiser and sat in contemplation, trying to convince himself that he was merely jumping to conclusions as well, that the criminals were doing something as unethical as mass human experimentation. When he considered the track record of Mazur Ral Vendick though, he was even more sure that they had indeed done it.

*****

Ivan stood as the figurehead of the Celestials and oversaw all progress that was made. Whenever new designs were made for construction, or new ideas appeared, he had to review and sign off on documents for approving or denying them. It was very rudimentary, but it was the first step toward the business model for the community he had envisioned.

No valuable resources had been located by the hunting groups and land prospectors working in cooperation, but their stocks on the basic materials was slowly increasing. Construction was constantly going on as well, but it was still in the preliminary period of building simple hut-like homes for everyone as the current homes were overcrowded.

The Four-Eyed Devil Lion had appeared several times, but the hunting groups had successfully repelled it each time, only losing two Celestials due to surprise attacks by the beast. The Devil Lion was getting more cunning every time it attacked, becoming one of Ivan's concerns.

"It's too slow," Ivan said with a sigh to Iris and Valeria as he leisurely finished overlooking several designs.

Iris gave him a warm smile as she sat in his lap and asked, "What is too slow?"

"Progress. We haven't discovered how to utilize the natural energy in subspace for one. But even the speed of the most basic construction is taking too long."

"We just don't have enough people."

"I know, but even the speed of other people transforming into four-dimensional beings is too slow."

"Can't you build more stasis pods?"

"The technology is too advanced for the Folkien home world. They don't have the means to produce them, even if they knew how. That's what Mazur said at least. Our better option is to take a journey to buy them, but the Poseidon would have had its ship registration blacklisted after being discovered as a pirate ship, and Mazur spent nearly all his money on buying the Poseidon."

"Then go take them, nobody can stop us, right?"

"I have been considering it, but if the Poseidon is broken, we will be stranded. Perhaps we can just steal another ship full of them though."

Iris kissed Ivan tenderly and smiled. "Don't worry too much over it, we have all the time in the world, right?"

"Yeah, we do," Ivan sighed lightly, his mind distracted. "I can't help but have a sense of foreboding though."

*****

The Celestial community continued to grow one step at a time. He was planning on making a journey with Iris and Mazur to the nearest pirate owned space station according to Mazur's memory, a trip that would take several days there at maximum FTL speed, and several more back.

Once the first year in subspace was over, Ivan and Iris took the lead as they lead everyone back to the Folkien home world to visit their families for a week long vacation.

As they approached and adjusted the angle of their ascent toward the three dimensional normal space, Ivan caught sight of the thousands of Galactic Fleet battleships in orbit around the planet.

Normally, someone who broke the law would have long escaped at the sight, but Ivan laughed hysterically instead.

"And here I was worried about a lack of stasis pods and planning to travel across the cosmos to go steal some and hijack a ship. To think, they would deliver an endless amount straight to me!"

Ivan couldn't stop laughing at the irony of his worry as the group of a thousand Celestials appeared from within the Poseidon's cargo hold.