• Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

VotO Book 2 Chapter 5: Reconciliation

Ray of Meep

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"You can't let them get away with this."

Luchesse barely downed a protein bar and some vitamin water before she decided to use the rest of her hour to visit the CCM delegation's quarters inside the conference building, having barely sat down in front of the Chief Minister. She was clearly displeased, even a hint of panic.

"I understand that we've had recent and old grievances, but what Kal and Hak did today crosses a line that I highly advise you to condemn. This sets a terrible precedent. If armed forces can simply waltz into a diplomatic space unpunished, then international reconciliation is dead. We might as well be shooting each other at this point for war crimes. Don't lie to me, not behind closed doors; we all have blood on our hands."
 

steinOS

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Yeniseyev sat with some papers set aside. In front of him was a bowl of green soup with potatoes, dill and evident golden circles of oil from the few strips of chopped onion that were fried before being added. This, along with a few slices of white bread on a plate composed the Chief-Minister’s lunch. A spoon was in his hand, having already scooped most of the soup before Lucchese arrived. The Chief-Minister’s mouth still moved as he looked up, hearing out the Secretary General before placing the spoon down into the bowl. First and foremost, his other hand moved to shift the bread plate between the two of them, inviting Lucchese to try it.

“That we do,” his hand plucked a napkin from a small stack and wiped his fingers with it. “But let us take a moment to remember who that blood belongs to and why it is on our hands.” The napkin went down. His voice was more soothing in the private setting, not like in the hall earlier - there was no need to shout here. “As it happens, I absolutely agree with you. Negotiations at gunpoint do not exactly belong here; however, this is not a precedent, it is an exception. I can explain, if you so wish. Though I hope you don’t mind.” Yeniseyev gestured to his bowl. “My wife made this, I ought to not let it get cold.” The man lifted another spoonful to his lips, blowing on it lightly before eating. His eye contact however, was unrelenting.
 

Ray of Meep

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Luchesse looked down at the bread, back up at Yeniseyev. Either his wife traveled with him, or he had state of the art equipment to keep food fresh between Earth and Mars. Neither necessarily mattered. After some hesitation, the Secretary General took a piece of bread, dipping it into the soup, then took a bite. She visibly calmed somewhat; home cooking always trumped manufactured pastes and liquids that served nutritional needs first, taste buds second, and softened even the most hardened politicians and soldiers.

"Exceptions is what they always say before it becomes more convenient, the norm. Though, I suppose that's pot calling the kettle black in this case." Luchesse sighed, referring to the GDW's pre-emptive strike against the CCM. "Alright, indulge me. History is riddled with dictators and war criminals, but only the Americans have had the gall to attempt assassinations as an organized, national entity, and it often didn't turn out well for them. What makes the HFR's attempt here justifiable?"
 

steinOS

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“The irony of it as we know, many dictators and war criminals are executed by their own people in a push for prosperity or justice. But I want you to imagine this scenario… Black, burning earth, a scent of sea salt mingling with petroleum smoke as the blue horizon is dotted with charred wrecks.” He paused, taking another sip before continuing. “The Emperor of Japan, after their army bombed Pearl Harbour, harassed Manchuria, triggered unrest in China and.. lets say detonated a diplomatic conference between two other states… he decides to waltz into an international meeting where the nations that suffered are trying to reconcile and consolidate their mutual interior order in the face of the Japanese threat.”

Yeniseyev took a piece of bread from the plate and seemingly aimed it in the air off to the left, raising it above both his and the Secretary General’s level. “Now the Japanese armies… they view this Emperor as a God; they fight, kill, pillage, rape, experiment on ordinary folks like you and me - all in his name; and so the Emperor tells his people: ‘They are beneath you, they who are animals and beggars, they cannot raise a hand against our bright Empire. We will kill them slowly and turn them on each other like the hungry white dogs they are.’ But then…”

The bread that the Chief-Minister held up high dipped into the steaming soup, the green tone of the liquid climbing the soft pale texture until it was too heavy to be taken out as easily. “The states pull this God from the sky and suddenly he is more aware of that which he sowed; and yet he still gloats.” He then took a hearty bite of the soaked part of the bread. “So Secretary General, do you know what happens if the states loosen their grip in favour of their moral and diplomatic nature?”

It was apparently a rhetorical question, because his hand slowly raised what was left of the bread once more until it was higher up than he previously demonstrated. Holding it there for a few seconds, he returned to finishing it. Yeniseyev felt it was an adequate illustration in place of words.
 

Ray of Meep

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"Her children might just lash out and strike unpredictably in order to save their God-Empress, or Mother-Empress if we allow the execution to happen." It seems Luchesse surrendered the argument for diplomatic high ground, now switching to pragmatic points. "The Daqinren absolutely must answer to their crimes. Their support of piracy operations are well documented at this point, and have actively destabilized our nation-states to the point of war. We can pressure them economically, seize their assets, force them to play nice..."

She took a bite out of the bread. "... But what the HFR is doing here risks further escalation of violence beyond our already limited capacity." Her mind was temporarily occupied by thoughts of the Jovian and Silbern rebellions that were now tying down surviving CSC forces. "The Empress, as insufferable as she is, is a relatively known quantity, one that we've been dancing around for decades now. Her children, however, are a complete mystery. Should the Empress fall, her children unleashed, we have no choice but to invade the Ping Qiong system before the chaos spreads across human space. Is that what we want? Another Operation Distant Flock? The AU and GDW successfully completed the operation more than a century ago, when our fleets were at full strength; the same cannot be said now."

"There's something else as well. This whole arrest reeks of Shen Zhou militancy." Luchesse dipped her bread in the soup. "The Li Ming Prime Minister has been reported missing. Luo Meng, I'm sure you've met her; she's been the HFR diplomat to these conferences for the past few years. There were no forewarnings of the switch to the Shen Zhou president, and the presence of the RSC Grand Admiral is completely out of character of the HFR as well."
 

steinOS

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“Mmm… I’ve noticed the same.” The Chief-Minister finished up his soup and left the bowl and spoon aside to the left. “Very decisive, aren’t they. I suspect they want to hit back at Ping Qiong, using the fire to cauterize the HFR into one state again,” he paused for a moment, his eyes returning to Luchesse. “They’re still mad at you for Heavy Chorus, you know - let alone Distant Flock. Showing them a hand of support is prudent in the long term, the best chance at repairing relations with the confederation that you and the AU ever had since before the CCP was in its prime. The Anti-Daqinren Pact we share with them is the foundation - maybe a conflict such as this would even burn away global differences like it did back when… Well.”

He wiped his lips and moustache with the napkin he used previously. “When your territories were under the red-and-black.” Yeniseyev took the final piece of bread, but broke it in half, leaving some for the Secretary General if she enjoyed it at all - a symbolic peace offering. “It seems to me that you put a lot of faith in the devil you know, when we prefer to wash our hands clean of devils entirely. If they act out, let them. If we fight, we fight on our terms. Humanity’s terms. If we don’t… I’m afraid that history is doomed to repeat itself as it often does when people don’t learn. They, long-lived as they are, dogmatic - refused to learn, so we must do so in order to break this unfortunate status quo.”

The Chief-Minister cleared his throat, looking off to a window which allowed most of the light in this room to be - amber skies, clouds so thin you could almost blow from the surface to disperse them, and dull grey rocks, with a muddy copper dusting like sugar. “There have been whispers at the fringes, Secretary General. Humanity may not have our current bargaining power for long if we don’t display some semblance of a united front. The time of our wandering the darkness in solitude is slowly coming to an end.”
 

Ray of Meep

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Luchesse quietly finished her bread. They still lacked the forces to fight the Daqinren, but upsetting a newly formed alliance between them, the CCM, and the HFR wasn't ideal either. The Chief Minister was right as well, regarding the aliens. The Aos Si were behaving themselves well enough, but what of other Aos Si? There were also the creepy crawlies now poking on the fringes of human space as well.

Ideally the Daqinren wouldn't be dictators. Ideally the Americans would've just let Hawking go. Ideally the Commonwealth didn't over militarize, or the Soyuz remain so isolationist, or the confederacy so hung up on its past. No use dwelling on past mistakes and present short comings. She was out of her league to make the necessary changes anyways.

"I'll heed your advise and not interfere, but I'm still keeping an eye on our Oriental friends though." Luchesse finally spoke up again. "I overheard your conversation with the Americans; Ein, specifically. He's quite meddling, isn't he? Even now he's trying to grab a quick buck. What do you think of the Assembly joining in on this rescue mission? The Union is a wounded lion, but it's still a lion nonetheless. Its opposition to this arrest breaks your wish for a unified, human front, doesn't it?"
 

steinOS

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He nodded in return, seeing no issue with the GDW having reservations on HFR activities of late - no matter how much the CCM would sympathise with them, in taking these steps they have become more unpredictable. That’s what it takes to stand up to the Zhuli, he reasoned with himself.

Upon mention of the Assembly and Ein, Yeniseyev gave a small smirk. “You heard that, did you? I am impressed with your attentiveness. I do share your sentiment on the likes of him. It’s corporate leaders like those whose questionable loyalties paved the way to the unfortunate conflict between us. I do not trust his motivations to guide the American government in the correct direction, neither do I believe that he has the Magnetic Assembly’s best interests at heart. I trust their leadership to anticipate that.” He paused, his fingers fastening up the uppermost button of his shirt.

“The Union is… a difficult partner to have. One that you have greater experience in dealing with. From the outside it appears to us that anyone who doesn’t have something benefiting them directly is an exploitable liability. Unfortunately for them, the Daqinren feel the same way about all of us. It’s only a matter of time before they realize that catering to Ping Qiong only weakens them and harms their national interests; nevertheless, the Americans remain a wild card. How do you feel about it, Secretary General Luchesse?”
 

Ray of Meep

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Luchesse snorted. "Funny how you call the Americans a 'wild card'. For centuries, no matter the Union's actions, we could at least count on them to be predictable, predictably self-interested. All they do is to cater to the bottom lines of their companies and brief, emotional whims of their voters. Even now, what they're doing is quite predictable: they seek the treasure trove of bio-engineering and virtual reality technologies in Ping Qiong, along with the military stealth tech and espionage tactics that led our states to war."

The Secretary General shrugged, "I don't blame them; if I wasn't on the receiving end of Daqin's incursions I would've stayed the same course. But let's be honest:" She paused again. She mused cautiously, eyes wandering, before speaking her next words in a lowered, softer tones. "The Americans have been a vital partner to our efforts for centuries, but now... as of the current moment, in the context of your unified, human front, the Union is a liability. A liability with way too many Statesmen, in both the military and literal sense." Her voice rised again, "I have no solution for that. The high cyborgs gutted half their Senate, yet they still march on as if nothing happened; that's how big they are. We'll just have to play around them, as we always do, until the military context changes again."
 

steinOS

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Yeniseyev gestured with his hand to Lechesse. “Greater experience as I say, but even they must know that the ‘supreme superior Daqin Diguo’ would never voluntarily allow an equal to emerge.” He seemed pleased that she shed some light on the Union’s background motivations at present, though his face still held a small degree of concern buried behind a slightly lax yet professional posture. “Perhaps we’re speaking to the wrong people, then. If they cling to power so; that they would do anything to retain it, we can appeal to those who keep them there. The real folk behind the facade of that democratic oligarchy. Time will tell, I suppose.”

The Chief-Minister’s sleeve retracted slightly - he looked at his watch. It had a somewhat faded motif of the Kremlin in line art, with its star distinguished in a striking, blood red. The strap was a metallic lattice of titanium and brass. An heirloom; the date of manufacture hiding under the hands of the watch read ‘2111’.

“Speaking of which… we ought to prepare for the end of the recess. I must gather my papers.” He gave a warm smile, reaching over the desk with his right hand to Luchesse. “Thank you for the conversation, Secretary General. I’m glad we had the opportunity to reach a better understanding in the wake of all this turbulence.”
 
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