Eclipsing the star around which Station Halcyon orbited, the familiar shape of a Judicator-class Star Battlecruiser came into view. Balbus Marinus couldn't help but stare in awe at its impressive design. It was a powerful symbol of the Cyrannian Empire, clearly representing their doctorine of fear, but also their overconfidence. Little was done, he thought, to protect its vunerable engines - a potentially disaterous weakness when faced with faster warships. Nevertheless, Marinus couldn't help but smile at the Empire's efficiency, as he realised that the ship had dropped out of hyperspace exactly five minutes before their its scheduled arrival.
Marinus turned away from the viewport, mentally preparing himself as he strode towards the docking bay. The Emperor's representative would not appreciate grovelling, which was mostly a relief to him. He held his head high, preparing to greet his guests while watching the Korvalus-class shuttle gracefully land before him. The shuttle's ramp lowered, revealing a trio of Imperial guards followed by Potentate Tereyn Aeresius, one of the Empire's highest authorities and the Emperor's official representative during dealings with other civilisations. Dressed in gold finery, the Libertus approached Marinus, placed his clawed talon his chest and bowed his head in greeting. Marinus returned the gesture, turning both eyes to face him as a sign of respect.
- Aeresius: "Balbus Marinus, I presume?"
- Marinus: "Indeed. I am grateful that you could come on such a short notice"
- Aeresius: "Think nothing of it. It was a short flight."
- Marinus: "Of course. Please, follow me."
Marinus lead the Potentate to a small room, dominated by a large circular table. No Talven Guards were present, though Aeresius knew that they probably located close by. Standard diplomatic procedure. Instead of taking a seat, Marinus turned to face him, his upper eye gazing around the room.
- Marinus: "I can provide answers regarding the details of my proposal while we wait for our..."
Marinus' upper eye glanced at the wall near to a security camera above the door through which they had entered.
- Marinus: "...friends in the New Republic to arrive."
Aeresius narrowed his eyes slightly when the word "Republic" was spoken, but nodded his head all the same.
- Aeresius: "By all means, proceed. So, High Councilor, do tell. What would you have my government do? In light of the current state of Imperial-Republica relations, it is a feat in itself to gather diplomats from both sides on the same space station, let alone the same room."
Marinus decided to provide an indirect answer.
- Marinus: "From the perspective of an outsider, the Empire and the Republic are two sides of the same coin. Now that this... war of ideologies has begun, neither can exist without the other. Only through peace can you fully pursue your interests, and I am sure you'll agree that the future of the Empire should not be restricted to Cyrannus."
Aeresius remained silent for a moment before responding.
- Aeresius: "The Empire never has been restricted to Cyrannus. Yes, it is true that we have plans for expansion, but tell me, why should we suffer a rival eager to wipe us off the map?"
- Marinus: "Many in the New Republic would prefer a lasting peace. If the Talven Empire can successfully negotiate between your people and those of the Republic, your 'rival' will learn to accept - and even respect - your own beliefs."
Aeresius considered the High Councilor's words, before templing his talons on the table.
- Aeresius: "War is in nobody's best interests, least of all mine. I will listen to your proposals, but I can promise no more than that."
- Marinus: "That is all that I ask for."
Suddenly, the doors to the room opened, revealing two figures, Proconsul Athan Apostila and Senator Naberraé of Concordia, the Republic's official representatives. Their diplomatic demeanor belied their suspicion upon seeing the Potentate, who regarded both of them with a raised brow. Both the Senator and the Proconsul nodded courteously as they sat down at the table.
- Athan Apostila: "Kalos mercu, High Councilor."
He addressed the Potentate without looking at him.
- Athan Apostila: "Potentate."
Marinus ignored the tension, sitting at the opposite end of the table.
- Marinus: "Proconsul; Senator. Thank you for joining us."
- Athan Apostila: "Thank you, High Councilor. We are eager to hear your proposals."
- Marinus: "Of course. As you are aware, I believe that the Talven Empire has the potential to become a negotiator between the New Republic and the Galactic Empire. The people of the Cyrannus Galaxy can achieve far more when they are free from internal conflict."
Senator Naberraé sighed sadly.
- Sola Naberraé: "During the Great Cyrannus War, I strove for peace between the Republic and our foes. That war ended with the death of democracy and the rise of a dictator the likes of which the galaxy has never seen. Since the re-establishment of the Republic, I believed that peace may be possible, though when I hear stories about what the Empire has done to innocent beings and innocent worlds, I put idealism to one side and look at the bigger picture. With all due respect, High Councilor, the only way the people of Cyrannus can prosper is when we are free from the tyranny of the Empire."
Marinus paused, turning both eyes towards the Senator.
- Marinus: "I do not believe that the current state of the Empire will last forever, though war will certainly encourage future atrocities. If the New Rebublic manages to destroy the Empire, we may see a new rebellion. If it tries and fails, the Empire might as well gain full dominion over Cyrannus. The Empire is not inherently 'evil', and should not be treated as such. Even if we eventually fail in doing so, pursuing peace will prove that we are willing to resolve our disagreements without taking up arms."
- Athan Apostila: "I am of the same mind. However, when we last attempted to build galactic concordance with the Empire, they demolished, in the minds of many, any hope for such a lofty goal by demanding Republic subserviance to the Empire at Daeohre'eri."
- Marinus: "Potentate, if the New Republic ends its enthusiasm to... wipe the Empire off the map, would the Empire be willing to let it be?"
The Potentate glowered at the Republic representatives.
- Aeresius: "Provided they end support for the so-called Cyrandia Resistance, revoke their claim on the Galactic Core and Orbispira and ensure that all of their fleets remain beyond the neutral zone established by the Concordat of 03 NE."
Athan raised his voice.
- Athan Apostila: "That's impossible. Worlds such as Capricaerón and Surdana have made their voices heard. The Empire permitted the Republic to gain sovereignty over these worlds after we agreed to aid them against the Imperial State. We are not ceding control just because you changed your mind."
- Aeresius: "The Empire is the rightful sovereign of this galaxy, boy. It was the Emperor's will that your Republic be reformed, though his generosity is not infinite. Make no mistake, High Councilor, the Empire and the Republic are not rivals that need to accomodate one another to prevent mutually assured destruction. No, if the Emperor wills it... Well, suffice it to say, we would not be having this conversation."
- Marinus: "I see. Let us take a different approach, then. The Talven Empire, as I mentioned to the Potentate earlier, is here as an outsider, and is thus not directly involved in the conflicts of Cyrannus. Though this peace may not yet be possible, we may still be able to reduce tension between your peoples. The grudges and distrust in Cyrannus often deteriorates situations that could otherwise be resolved. Our Empire would be able to represent each side in negotiating solutions to these problems, as a source that both the Galactic Empire and the New Republic can trust. Even if you cannnot immediately put faith in us, you may be able to do so as we remain a reliable third party."
Proconsul Apostila and the Potentate looked at each other for a moment.
- Athan Apostila: "Very well High Councilor, I will give you the benefit of the doubt."
Aeresius scratched his chin before nodding.
- Aeresius: "As will I."
The High Councilor straightened slightly.
- Marinus: "I am grateful that you are ready to place confidence in me. To develop this proposal, I would like to request for the Talven Empire to be able to send representatives to witness discussions between your nations."
- Sola Naberraé: "I am sure we will be able to permit a Talva representative to attend bilateral talks between the Empire and the New Republic."
- Aeresius: "Very well, you may observe."
- Marinus: "Excellent. It has been an honor."
Marinus watched sorrowfully as the others left the room. He had hoped that he could find peace for the nations of Cyrannus, though he had recognised that such a thing was likely to be a lost cause. That was not the purpose behind this meeting. The Talven Empire could now call on two intergalactic superpowers in its fight to liberate Xonexi. Now he only needed to restrain the scheming of the Galactic Empire long enough for his plans to unfold.
He headed swiftly back to his shuttle. Time was not yet on his side.