The sun was rising over Republic City, a new dawn over the capital of the New Cyrannian Republic. In the year since the destruction of the old Senate Building, the city had recovered to exceed its former splendor, an opulent new Senate Tower rising from the ashes, surrounded by Senatorial Apartments and overlooked by the expanded city spaceport, built into the mountains surrounding the city. The air was filled with the sound of the waves of the coast and the songs of birds, interrupted by the hustle and bustle of arriving starships and airspeeders. In a secluded area of a small park adjacent to the spaceport, two reporters sat on a bench, with two hovering droids recording their broadcast.
"Live from the Senatorial Spaceport in beautiful Republic City, this is Republica News. I am Tiaa Garyae, joined by my lovely co-host, Yanhar Aayn'seca."
The male D'annaoi nodded his head when his name was mentioned, "Thank you, Tiaa", he replied in a deep baritone. "This is a new talk show, "Out and About with Tiaa and Yanhar", that brings you the inside scoop and the goings-on with the Senate's movers and shakers." The tone of his voice clearly implied he was uncomfortable with the jargon.
"Indeed, Yanhar", Tiaa said as she rose from the bench, one of the hovering cameras following her and she and Yanhar began strolling through the park toward the entrance to the spaceport. "As most of you know, a special session of the Senate will be held today which will see the introduction of a new batch of elected officials from the elections two weeks ago. As today is Republic Day, celebrating the seventh anniversary of the formation of the New Republic, the President has announced that a new Senate committee will be formed to advise the administration on the growing crisis in Republic-Imperial relations. Yanhar, why don't you weigh in?"
The D'annaoi huffed. "I predict every single member of this committee will be a Nexarón Valkistair-lackey, handpicked by Centrist powerbrokers to stamp every bill this power-hungry demagogue coughs up."
Tiaa laughed, "Come on, give me a break. Nexarón Valkistair is no lord of darkness. He has been a powerful symbol of resilience against both the Loron and the Neraida, okay, and will continue to be so against the Empir-"
She interrupted herself with a squeak when she saw a new arrival emerge from the doors of the Spaceport. The two camera droids swerved in the air to face the new arrival, who walked closely beside another. "Hold up, guys. Senator Apollo of the United Worlds has just arrived... with a lady friend it seems. Is that... yes, I believe it is. Doctor Dané Elenya. Thoughts, Yanhar? Star-crossed lovers on a romantic stroll?"
Yanhar, who was clearly more interested in reporting the political situation, groaned under his breath. "Looks like a... hot scoop. Come, let us get closer to this new goss."
Tiaa clapped her hands excitedly and began running toward Apollo and Dané, Yanhar and the two camera droids close in tow. When she began calling out, "Senator!" and "Doctor!", the new arrivals turned. Apollo clasped his head and growned loudly. "Freedom of the press..."
Dané smirked. "Do you still carry around your Presidential pistols?"
"I knew I forgot something when I left the house..."
Dané laughed at the comment, watching as Apollo straightened himself by the time Tiaa, Yanhar and the camera droids arrived. Tiaa regarded the senator as she approached. Certainly he cut a dashing figure. He was tall, charismatic handsome—in a saurian, sort of way—and still quite young, at forty one, despite his already lengthy political career. The Federalists were certainly clever to pick such a figure as one of their primary spokesbeings, she thought to herself.
Tiaa smiled broadly in the camera before addressing the bemused duo, "Fancy meeting you two here."
Apollo raised his brow, "At the Senate? ... I am a Senator, you know."
Tiaa laughed uncomfortably. "So... Senator Apollo, since the unfortunate incident with your friend, Empress Ramashe of Rambo Nation, relations with our closest ally have become strained. Do you care to comment on rumours of your personal tension with Rambarth of House Le Rambo, the current Lord Regent of the Nation?"
Apollo folded his arms, "Such rumours have no basis in fact, Tiaa. Now, I really have to run, so is there anything else?"
Tiaa cleared her throat. "What of the rumours of a relationship between yourself and the good doctor, here?"
Dané and Apollo looked at each other and laughed uncomfortably. Dané turned to the camera, "Our relationship is strictly professional. Apollo is too scrawny for my taste."
Apollo smiled, "Gee thanks." Turning to the reporters, he nodded in farewell. "Let's... do this again sometime."
The shuttle which carried Apollo and Dané to the capital was late enough that the senator had no window to relax between his arrival and the special session of the Senate. Instead, he would use what little time remained to meet with his staff. Apollo's office was a broad oval within the Republic Senate Building. As he walked into the office with Dané, the afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows as a trio of figures shuffled about, ensuring that the Senator was prepared for the upcoming session. Bobbing up and down in the air, the Adjunct approached the new arrivals.
"Such an illustrious gathering! These tribal debates always thrill me. Good afternoon, Creator-Apollo and Creator-Elenya."
Apollo returned the Adjunct's greeting and approached his desk, leaving Dané to converse with the Oikoumene construct she still regarded as a scientific marvel, even though to the untrained eye, the Adjunct would merely resemble an advanced Republic AI. Meanwhile, sitting on Apollo's chair was his strange companion Gorf, who, as usual, was eating on a bag of snacks. Once he approached, the creature smiled, its teeth filled with all sorts of food residue. "Hello, Dad Apollo. Got your bits and pieces examined by Doctor yet?"
Apollo was glad that Dané was out of earshot, though blushed all the same. "My bits and pieces aren't your concern, Gorf!" He indicated for him to jump from the chair. "Scoot, you can sit on the desk." Nodding, the creature got down and begun strolling around the desk. Realizing his bag of snacks was empty, Gorf promptly swallowed it before reaching his hand inside his mouth, revealing another bag for him to open.
"Senator Apollo?" Naelys Valraenos, Apollo's assistant, said, struggling to maintain a straight face in light of Gorf's antics. "You've been invited to Senator Nibirush's dinner reception on Deobandi."
Apollo groaned. Senator Nibirush was a fervent Centrist, and one of Apollo's foremost rivals in the Senate. Naelys grinned at his reaction. "I told his staff that you'd consider it. Do you want me to decline immediately or next week?"
"Next week. Don't want to be too predictable. Send a gift basket."
Naelys grinned, quickly entering the information into her datapad. A young female Libertus, Naelys originated from the harsh world of Fornoston Prime, along the Republic-aligned Capricorn Trade Spine in the Core. Apollo knew that Naelys struggled with the rampant formality and political games of the Senate, but he respected her growing political acumen and her emergent diplomatic skills.
Apollo's Tvaioan press secretary Riko Cadan shuffled toward the desk, his expression characteristically grim. "Perhaps you should accept the invitation, m'boy. After your... performance with the two reporters today, some good press is precisely what you need. A diplomatic reception hosted by one of our rivals would be a good way to build consensus between the Federalists and the Centrists. Or at least, showing that we desire consensus."
Apollo leaned back in his chair, rubbing the back of his neck. "First of all, using the word "reporter" to describe Tiaa Garyae is a bit of a misnomer. Secondly, the invitation is a formality. Our dear friend Senator Nibirush would be scandalised if I did show up."
Cadan nodded in response. "If you say so, Senator. In any event, I have put out a statement to the press about the new composition of the Senate. Disappointment at the decline in Federalists, eager to built ties with Centrists and Reformists, et cetera, et cetera."
Apollo nodded, "Good man. Keep me informed. Dané," He swivled in his chair to face Doctor Elenya. "Everything alright? I know how much politics bores you."
Dané shrugged. "I'm fine, I just hope those... vultures in the guise of journalists don't ambush us again. I have enough on my plate without being swamped by the paps at every turn. I honestly don't know how you handle it. The boy I knew on Capricaerón was shy and socially awkward."
Apollo smirked as he rose from the desk. "I seem to recall a certain young Coramentan wasn't big on social skills, either."
Some time later, in the Senate Chamber, Apollo sat in his Senatorial pod. Via his console, he could see a holographic representation of President Nexarón Valkistair, who had just taken up position in the distant Presidential Podium. The Senator crossed his arms as he listened. As he scanned the vast chamber, he recognised most of the representatives from a multiplicity of sectors, though a sizable portion were new, recently elected in the Republic-wide elections the previous month. Touching a holographic viewscreen, Apollo looked at the schedule for the day and straightened in his seat, awaiting the First Senator to call upon the President to speak.
Firenhir Vemeryn, the First Senator, cleared his throat, "The President, Nexarón Valkistair of Caelis'caeri, is acknowledged on the floor."
Clapping with the rest of the senators, Apollo could see the President well via the screens hovering above the Senate floor, displaying, in various different wavelengths, the central podium.
Nexarón Valkistair stood tall, lording over the senators with what appeared to be the Trucinex-version of a kindly smile. "Greetings, my esteemed colleagues of the Senate. I welcome you all to this new term of the Senate. I trust that together, we will guide the New Republic into a prosperous new age, one in which the galaxy is free of tyranny and oppression."
Apollo applauded, as did most others, subtle anti-Imperialism earned bipartisan support these days.
"As many of you know, the threat posed by the so-called Galactic Empire of Cyrannus is very real and lurks on the horizon like a dark cloud above the Republic. As such, I will be forming a select committee of senators to advice my administration on how best to deal with this existential threat."
The senators in the chamber murmured amongst each other. Nexarón Valkistair interacted with a console on his podium, sending invitations to the selected senators. A green light appeared on Apollo's console, indicating that he had been selected. Grumbling under his breath, he pressed it, as did the other senators.
Suddenly, a senator rose to her feet on the other side of the chamber. One of the new batch, apparently. A holographic image of the woman appeared on Apollo's viewscreen. She had blue skin, a long formal dress and red hair roped in a braid. Senator Ramdard Ramthrace, one of Apollo's closest political allies, audibly gasped when he saw the woman. The First Senator too, seemed distressed as he spoke. "The floor... recognises the newly elected Senator of Pheobao, Adelheidis."
The former disgraced Praesator of the Republic in Exile, smiled broadly. "Thank you, my dear. It is such a distinct honour to be elected by the people of Pheobao to this august institution. And I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to President Nexarón Valkistair for the kindness he showed in inviting me to this all-important committee. To my new colleagues, I am sure we will be the very best of friends."
She smiled broadly once more, sitting down as the chamber filled with silence. Some of her fellow Centrists clapped slowly, while Apollo turned his head to Naelys Valraenos, his brow raised. "... what a load of-"
He was interrupted by outcry from the Quadrantia benches, with Ramdard Ramthrace taking particular objection with Adelheidis. "This is an outrage," he exclaimed as he rose to his feet, pointing at Adelheidis. "This woman betrayed the Republic in Exile, when she led it as Praesator. She conspired with an extragalactic power and was promptly arrested under orders from former President Apaltar. This is how you respect your predessecor's legacy, Nexarón Valkistair?! This woman is corrupt!"
Adelheidis continued to smile at Ramthrace, as if he had just paid her a compliment. Just as Nexarón Valkistair was about to reply, another voice from the other side of the chamber interupted. "Now, now, Ramdard. Senator Adelheidis was democratically elected by the people of Pheobao, just as I was elected by the people of Surdana to represent them." Apollo's eyes widened as he listened to the newly elected Senator Zare'Anne. The former terrorist, turned civil rights campaigner, had once contested in a presidential election against Apollo during the days of the Republic Remnant. After the fall of the Remnant to the Empire, he had assumed that his former rival had been executed. Clearly not.
As the Senate erupted into chaos, Zare'Anne sat in his pod, scrutinising the distant figure of Apollo closely. He was willing to put their past tension behind them, after all, the failed attempt on his life was all in the past. He instead turned his head to President Nexarón Valkistair. A pretender in his eyes, as had been Apaltar. The Republic Remnant elected him to the presidency over Apollo, only for the New Republic to forget about him entirely. No longer. Sinking into a reverie, he thought of his future. The Presidency is mine, by right. By the gods, I will not stop until I claim it.