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36 Meeting the King

 Ivan, Mazur, Iris and Valeria returned to the Vulpes homeworld a little over six months after leaving. Because of this, they still had another six months before the orbit of the planet returned to the position above where their subspace community was.

The Poseidon still sat in the same spot of a forest as when they first landed. Because it had been dormant for so long, plant life had already begun growing up the legs of the massive spaceship. Vines weeded their way up and even begun sprouting small yellow flowers. Other plant species which thrive in damp conditions with little light also grew in abundance under the shadow of the ship.

The Vulpes military encampment surrounding the ship had also grown, with many permanent structures being constructed relatively fast. The Folkien Empire appeared to have come to a decision to set up a permanent base in the area, possibly to ease the lives of soldiers stationed here.

The four Symbions still lived in the area around the ship. The empire was responsible for regularly delivering bamboo to them, which they had taken a strong liking to. The family of three had a happy life to themselves, although the space they could move about was limited to the forest alone.

The outcast Symbion though was mostly lifeless, lazily sleeping wherever like a corpse. It had become comfortable around the Vulpes soldiers, but Ivan considered that the loneliness of not having any of its own kind, excluding the family which strongly secluded him.

There was still the hole in the base of the cargo bay of the ship, and the Vulpes had built a scaffolding ramp leading up to it. They also had become curious of the inside of the ship whilst Ivan and the others were gone, even though the structure of the ship was too advanced for them to even let them open it up and examine its makings, let alone understand them.

Outside the ship were a hundred massive shipping containers, each containing a thousand tightly packed stasis pods. These things were mass produced throughout the galaxy, so sourcing and shipping 100,000 of them was very simple.

"How long will it take you to modify them?" Ivan asked Mazur as he inspected the cargo.

Mazur was incredibly efficient at making the modifications and said, "I've done so many I can do them with my eyes closed now. It is a simple transformation, but unfortunately knowledge can't replace pure labor. I can only alter 100 a day at most."

Ivan frowned at this. While three years wasn't a long time, Mazur was also needed in subspace and couldn't spend such a long period of time here.

"I guess it's time to meet the king,"

Iris felt like such a meeting might not go as intended and asked Ivan, "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"It's the only method forward for us. Whilst we can teach our own people to modify the pods, it will take years due to the short window of returning to the planet. We also need to increase recruits to match the 100,000 new pods afterwards, far greater than the original 1,000 per year as agreed upon."

"But I don't believe the king will agree with it."

"His country is in a turbulent period of time. Based on my understanding, the surrounding empires have already been conquered and the royal families executed. Although the population inflow has increased due to the new territories, the people aren't about to forget the discrimination they always held for one another."

"You are thinking of sourcing the immigrants to fill the numbers?" Iris asked as if enlightened.

Ivan nodded briefly and explained, "That is one of the options. The other is to instead have the entire Folkien Empire begin immigration into subspace. They will naturally need information on the fourth dimension and all it entails. That would mean the king himself, and his family, would have to accept the transformation and risk involved. Even if I gave him a high position in the company, he would also have to accept not being a king anymore."

"I don't think he would be able to accept that," Iris shook her head gently.

*****

"Mr. Ivan and Mr. Mazur, we have received news that you returned. We didn't expect you to appear before us though," King Margold looked down upon the two from his throne. He completely ignored Valeria, a kivsharr, standing behind the group, but couldn't help but take several intoxicated glances toward Iris, the former most popular celebrity in the empire.

"Husband, I believe they are here for a reason," Queen Sherrell gently said to the king, but her gaze was piercing cold.

It was normal for a Vulpes king to have several concubines, even in this modern day, but the queen had ensured that King Margold only kept her by her side, breaking this normal tradition.

King Margold cleared his throat, "What have your two honorable selves visited us for this time."

Ivan glanced over at the royal guards who were maintaining a higher than normal vigilance.

"My purpose this time is for two purposed. First, to explain to you, and eventually your entire empire, what and who we are exactly, something not even your best researchers could figure out," Ivan said with a smirk. "Secondly, to renegotiate the original agreement I had with your empire. You are welcome to invite the original diplomat to also participate if you like."

"We have no need to do so, you can directly negotiate with us. We are also curious about what you are, and why my former citizens have changed so drastically."

Ivan first explained the meaning behind the fourth dimension, subspace, and how they had evolved beyond that of three-dimensional beings. The king became greatly interested as soon as a drastically increased lifespan came up, and showed interest in the new model of civilisation they were building. Even the queen became enamored, thinking about how long she could maintain her beautiful looks for if she became like them.

Most of this had to do with how Ivan described everything, but how could the king not know that Ivan was a supreme expert at manipulating people.

"It is greatly interested, but it sounds too good to be true. We don't understand your purpose behind telling us this."

Ivan just smiled as he continued to explain, "It is very simple, changes in the greater picture, along with opportunities presented, have given us the opportunity to expand at a faster rate. We require to fill up the quota of 100,000 people a year to accept the transformation to accommodate this. My initial thoughts were to fill this up with the refugees from other countries."

"We would be more than willing to handle the processing of these new citizens to you. The global discrimination makes them difficult to fit in with our society and causes many conflicts to erupt. We feel that there is more to what you are suggesting however."

King Margold was truly insightful, and managed to see that wanting refugees wasn't Ivan's only thoughts.

"Indeed, the concern with accepting refugees is they need a lot of education on our language, and many of them are simply unqualified and can only work as pure laborers. Giving them a new race may also remove their previous discriminations, but they will still leave behind seeds. I would much rather have only Folkien citizens become Celestials. The foundation is stronger, allowing us to be more united and grow further. It would also prevent potential future dangers."

"Our empire cannot support such numbers," King Margold stated without any room for refusal.

"No, it can't. With your current population, the birth rate is only slightly above it, and the sudden removal of adults will cause that number to drop below the threshold, causing the empire's development to degenerate."

"If you understand, why request such from us?"

"Because you haven't considered it from the perspective of rather than being focused on a single planet, why not immigrate to an even greater land. Everything is superior in subspace."

"We have fought for the past 150 years. Thanks to your technology, we could finally stand above the rest. They can only cower and surrender before the superior force. How can we possibly throw all of our past efforts aside?"

"King Margold, your history of war has created more suffering than the people are capable of accepting, but this is only a minor affair. You may not know this, but the galaxy is at war. The invaders don't care about who you are, it is either you die or they do. With the level of your planet, your pains, sufferings, even the fleeting feelings of triumph, would be extinguished in matter as consequential as a speck of space dust. From the galactic wide perspective, none of that matters."

King Margold was calm, he looked upon Ivan in silence. Deep in his own thoughts, even the hand of the queen that was placed on his arm went unnoticed.

"So, what is your plan? Surely you have planned more than this. We must consider our citizens before making the decision. What of our prince and princess, who have yet to reach the age of their first public appearance."

Ivan smiled gently at this and continued to explain, but on the inside, he already knew he had swayed the king. All that remained was ensuring the other party could agree with his plans. It was important that he did, as King Margold still held the hearts of the citizens of his empire, and Ivan couldn't successfully transform the identities of so many citizens without him.

"I have already calculated the numbers, and you, along with your queen and 5,000 guards, will be in the first batch to undergo the transformation. You will remain on the planet to continue guiding and protecting your citizens, along with being in charge of the selection and transformation process. All citizens, include your children, must reach the initial age of adulthood before undergoing the process, or their brains may lead to some maldevelopment due to the rapid aging effect of the transformation."

Ivan and King Margold began to come to an agreement through several hours of dialogue. By the end of it, both parties were happy with the outcome.

King Margold would renounce his kingship, both him and his wife would take up roles of senior executives in the company, only beneath Ivan himself. Their position would not be inherited by their descendants, but as long as they were capable enough, they would be given preferential treatment.

Ivan also secured the heart of the Folkien Empire, and would be able to rapidly have the Folkien Vulpes accept becoming Celestials.