Written by Tano'rath and TwistedSnakes
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Peace. Peace was finally here. Yet it was sad that the seeds of peace tended to rise from the ruins of war. Bloodshed. Death.
The arctic wolf shook his head. Loss was inevitable, but he couldn't shake the nagging feeling that he could have saved some of them. Perhaps these would be people whose souls would haunt him for the rest of his life.
But he needed to move on. Take another step forward. The ending of war only marked the start of a new era, one that he now had the power to shape. He was a core part of the resistance that led the overthrowing of the previous leader's dictatorship and hence earned his right to be one of the six members of the new ruling party. There would have been a seventh to the council, had an unfortunate accident not claim his life. A council tasked to build a better world. One where the new generation could be spared the bereavement that his generation had to face.
Out of the ruins of their civilization, they had to build a new home. Grow their military. Forge new alliances. As one of the new leaders, he would take the first steps for his people for the latter. The Drakonian Empire was influential in helping them overthrow the dictatorship, and today he was going to meet them as an ambassador.
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After Kazuki had left, I had been returned for duty for almost a year and more. The relations with the Canius Republic had remained lukewarm, but they had taken no initiative, and since war had broken out once again for us, we had no chance to deepen relations.
However, this particular stint of war was short. It was maybe a few months at most. I even managed to guilt trip Admiral Hector into approving a week's worth of leave while my ship was in for repairs. Naturally, I went home, since I lived on the homeworld anyway.
I had had my leave cancelled. I was displeased. If anything, it was for the most absurd of reasons. They wanted me to show a dignitary around, really? They mentioned something about me having met them before but gave no specifics. At least I managed to shout at them enough to have them reimburse me for the leave that would be chewed up by this errand.
Either way, I would have still rather have had the leave. However, orders were orders. I was told to show them around and whatnot. "Give them the tour" as they said.
The problem was that I am rarely ever on the homeworld, since my ship is a frontline vessel and because things move as fast they do, I didn't recognise half the shops on my own street, let alone the rest of the city. Tour my scaly arse.
I'd much rather sleep at home.
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Decro the arctic wolf stepped off a space shuttle into the company of two drakonian guards. They smiled warmly at him, greeting him with a "Welcome, High Ambassador." Decro nodded back, slightly embarrassed at the title that he had been given. Sure, he might have fought the war on the frontlines, but he never thought that he would have risen to power like this. In the end, he was still a soldier, fighting for the peace of his people, albeit in a different way.
The three of them were in a landing dock of the space terminal. "Come this way, please" one of the guards motioned, and Decro followed them down the escalators off the side of the landing platform, careful not to get his cloak caught between the sharp teeth of the steps. He was dressed in some kind of white ceremonial tunic emblazoned with intricate patterns embroidered into the fabric. His pants were slim and grey, matching the fur that ran down the top of his head and down his back. Around his neck was the cloak that dragged on the floor behind him that he was now holding up to prevent any unwanted accidents involving escalators and jamming said escalators with his attire.
Stepping off the escalators, the two guards led him past two airlocks before the corridor opened up to a great hall filled with many drakonians moving about. Conveyor belts with items of baggage were circling multiple parallel tracks, picked up by incoming passengers as they found their luggage.
"Your personal effects have been transported directly to your vehicle. Please proceed to the exit," the guards pointed him out to the door. "Your liaison will be waiting for you there." Decro nodded a word in thanks before following the guards' directions towards a pair of glass doors.
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I ended up being told to wait at the terminal in the spaceport. So, I went and got myself a big cup of tea, and sat down to wait. However, because I had also skipped breakfast to come here, I ended up buying a sandwich and demolishing it too. I even had two bodyguards, and I bought them breakfast too. As we waited, all three of us complained about the early start to the day.
Naturally, I had worn my best set of uniform, which was the newest set with no holes in it. I was also armed of course, with my sidearm, and the sentries had the full tactical armour setup and rifles.
I had been told to wear my formal uniform, of course, but that had caught fire and burnt to ash two weeks earlier when my quarters got hit by a plasma missile. I hadn't been particularly fussed about it since formal events aren't too common. That was also why I wasn't wearing the formal uniform. I hadn't bothered to get a new set yet, and since this was too last minute, this was all I had.
Things, however, were mostly relaxed. It was the Homeworld. The safest place to be. While we still kept an eye out for trouble, at least I didn't have to worry about my room exploding while I ate.
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The glass doors opened up to yet another corridor. There was a café that sat at the side of the corridor right next to the sliding doors. There was no sign of any reception as Decro looked around. He peered into the café where a lone black-scaled drakonian was seated with his back facing the wolf. On each of his shoulders sat an insignia, showing off the rank of a Captain.
Decro squinted suspiciously. Was this his reception to the diplomatic talks? But his clothes were not of the formal kind, instead looking more like they were meant for the heat of battle. His singed sleeve was evidence of this. The drakonian was also chomping down on a ham sandwich, oblivious to the wolf that was behind him. Another untouched sandwich sat on the porcelain plate on the table. Tuna spread. Beside it was a cup of hot tea, which the drakonian would sip from between bites.
Surely this was not the person he was looking for. But beside the drakonian were two more guards dressed in the same armour and uniform as his earlier reception. He stood by awkwardly, wondering if he should approach the drakonian.
Well, if the drakonian was meant to be his reception, he would be looking for him. Decro shook his head and left the café, standing with his paws together such that the hems his long sleeves touching each other in waiting attention.
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While I picked up my second sandwich to eat, the guard tapped me on the shoulder.
"Captain, he is here." He remarked, pointing behind me.
I snorted, ate the entire sandwich whole, a skill I had picked up in the field, then turned around to find an empty spot where the guard was pointing. "Sergeant, I see fuck-all."
"I think he went back into the terminal." The guard replied.
Rolling my eyes, I pointed to the doors to the terminal. "You think, I thought, who confirm? Go get him!"
"Yessir! At once sir!" He snapped and ran into the terminal to get the dignitary. I stood at the entrance to the café with the remaining guard and waited with my hands clasped behind my back.
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Decro turned around to the sound of footsteps from the approaching guard. "The Captain is waiting for you outside the café," the guard bowed, pointing him back to the café where the black drakonian had already gotten up and stood at the entrance. The drakonian seemed a little tired, and his eyes betrayed the fact that he would much rather be in bed.
The wolf approached the drakonian and bowed. "Pleased to meet you," he said in a thick accent, before realizing that the drakonian wasn't returning the bow. He quickly straightened up and made eye contact with the drakonian. Something about the drakonian seemed off, almost like he had met him before.
He raised an eyebrow in surprise as he realized that this was not their first meeting. The drakonian was the very same "mediator" for the war who passed him the documents that they needed to win the battle. He caught his words before he could enunciate them, wary of how his canine accent would sound weird to the other drakonians.
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I could have sworn that I had seen this guy before. I recognised the dot on his head. He was the guard from months ago, the one whom I had slipped the package to during the peace talks.
That, however, didn't change the fact that I wanted to go back to sleep, and I knew that it showed.
"Good morning, ambassador." I grinned, trying to hide a yawn, "Welcome to Drakonos."
The ambassador looked me over, and remarked, "I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I believe we have met before?"
"Aye, I believe so. I am Captain Tano'rath, of the Imperial Space-Fleet." So, he was that guard that I had slipped the wad of papers to. For once, I wasn't mistaken.
He hesitated for a moment as if trying to remember his own title. " I am high ambassador Decro"
"I see you have been promoted. Congratulations. " I replied, nodding politely in his general direction.
Decro seemed to look away for a moment. "Yes, we have had recent developments. Anyway, how are the goings of your nation?"
As much as the implication was obvious, I was required by protocol to verify things. "My nation? You mean The Empire?"
"Yes, my apologies. That is what I meant to say." Decro replied, then nodded in apology.
I nodded, acknowledging his apology as I continued, "Well, we are at peace currently, so that is good. Otherwise, life goes on. I must apologise for my clothes. My formal attire was burnt two weeks ago, and I didn't have a chance to replace it in time."
"I understand," Decro replied, nodding, though his eyes betrayed the fact that he disapproved.
Apparently, the memo hadn't reached this guy that I am a frontline troop. I have no time to replicate pretty clothes. Replicator material was hard to come by and reserved for more important things such as food. However, I couldn't snap at him, so I just continued saying what I had to say. "Either way, I am required to show you the city. If you would proceed with me, we can begin. The schedule is a bit packed, but do tell me if things are going too fast."
"We can proceed. Will you be the diplomat for the discussions?" Decro added, raising his eyebrows at how blunt I was.
He thought I was a diplomat? That was indeed funny, and I actually laughed. Me? A diplomat? Joke of the year. "No. I am not a diplomat. I am the commanding officer of the cruiser Defiant. Either way, please follow me."
I motioned for Decro to follow me to the carpark and started walking. I could hear him fall in step behind. "Oh, I do not wish to be rude, but when will we be introduced?"
"Diplomat got shot two weeks ago by the Alliance. I'm the replacement. I know I am not the most tactful, but yeah, I will do what I can." I replied with a shrug, as I kept walking.
Decro actually bowed as he walked. "I am sorry for your loss."
"Think nothing of it. It happens often enough. I hear you are here to discuss trade and an alliance, yes?" I replied, shrugging again. The Alliance had an unfortunate habit of doing that.
"Yes, that is true. " Decro replied, as we came up to the limousine.
I did not approve of the limousine. It was slow.
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The convoy came to a limousine that was waiting for them by the side of the road. Having faced a lifetime of war, the wolf seemed uncomfortable with the luxury that he was now presented with. The drakonian, too seemed displeased with the vehicle, having gotten used to the fast and powerful vehicles that the military provided.
Two bodyguards sat in the limousine facing each other, leaving two more vacant seats beside them. Tano'rath got into the seat facing the front of the car and Decro got into the seat beside, adjusting his trailing cloak and folding it in a neat bundle. The engine revved to life and the limousine accelerated, making its way down the tarmac roads.
"State your terms," Tano'rath asked flatly.
Decro pondered for a moment. The Canius council had given him no goal other than that of looking for ways that the two nations could help each other. Getting to an agreement as soon as possible would be ideal, but it was not a scenario he was prepared for. After all, his war-torn country had nothing of worth to offer.
He chose his words carefully. "We wish to discuss...potential prospects for our nations to collaborate."
"The Empire is always looking for allies and trade partners," the drakonian replied. "However, the first rule of trade is that you have to offer something in return, mister ambassador. What do you have?" he leaned in and scrutinized Decro before adding, "We have technology, weapons, production and protection to offer."
Decro shifted in his seat uncomfortably. The drakonian had cut straight to the point in bringing up trade, a topic that neither he nor the Republic of Canius was equipped to answer. His eyes lowered to the ground as he struggled to think of a reply.
Noticing the wolf's silence, Tano'rath picked up the conversation. "Anything. Perhaps you have raw materials that we might need? Or maybe a research agreement?"
"Ah yes," Decro's expression softened. "We have deposits of iron in our mines, although we might require them for our reconstruction works..." he trailed off, looking forlorn. "Are there other services we could perhaps offer? We have scholars. Or teachers. Or craftsmen. Skilled labour."
"We do not need your iron, so rest assured," Tano'rath leaned back in his seat. "Perhaps you might send some of your workforce? We will train them, and send some back to help in rebuilding, while others stay to work our factories? Of course, we will send a portion of the production to you," he proposed.
Decro was taken aback. Surely they should be putting in more time and thought into such an important discussion. And without any written agreement, all their discussions would amount to nought. However, he was glad that there was some offer of aid. "That would be good," he nodded.
"Voluntary, of course. We are not one to drag people from house and home," Tano'rath continued, a dark look flashing across his face. "History knows that we have experienced it."
Decro winced and nodded in response. "That would be preferred, although I daresay we don't have much of a choice," he admitted.
"Don't get me wrong," the drakonian clarified. "We are not forcing you into this. We can still help, only that it will be classified as aid, rather than trade."
"We do not wish to burden your Empire with our trivial troubles, nor do we wish to impose on your kindness in any way," Decro bowed his head. "We are deeply indebted to you, and should there be no agreement we are still thankful for your aid."
"Nonsense!" Tano'rath exclaimed. "Yes, we fight to defend what's ours, but we are not above helping those in need! I know for a fact that your planet needs much rebuilding. We want to help. Even if it is a skewed deal. However, in order to pitch the idea to my superiors, you have to give me something."
A bribe? Decro quickly counted his finances. He had some petty cash on him for meals and other necessities, leaving him barely anything extra for a bribe. Perhaps if he went hungry for a few days... "How much are we talking?" he mumbled.
"What? No!" Tano'rath protested, looking revulsed and insulted. "I'm not asking for a bribe!"
"I am terribly sorry!" Decro hurriedly corrected himself, bowing down till his chest was almost at his thighs. "I misunderstood your intentions. Could you perhaps elaborate then on what you meant?"
"It's fine," the drakonian shrugged it off. "No, I mean you have to reciprocate in the deal. Give the Empire something to work with." He shot Decro a dirty look, "And mind you, Drakonians do not take bribes."
Decro bowed again. "I deeply regret my words and insinuations and I pray that you forgive me for them."
It's fine. I don't give a shit," Tano'rath waved his hand. "No need to be so formal around me, ambassador. Half my time is spent running around with a gun. I rarely have time for niceties."
Taken aback by the unexpected profanity, Decro nodded in response. "I...will try," he concurred. "Along with the rest of the Canius Republic."
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The rest of the negotiation was conducted in the I.D.A.F headquarters, in a properly secured room, and we were both praised for coming to a quick decision. Contracts and treaties were drafted, and by evening, I was given the rest of the day off.
Out of courtesy, I offered to take Decro to the pub. It does get a bit rowdy sometimes, and I was half hoping that that would be enough to deter the ambassador.
However, Decro, wanting to learn about the Drakonian culture, agreed readily, and I ended up having to walk to the pub with him.
...and I thought I was rid of him.
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Having expected to be invited for formal dinners to build rapport between a drakonian diplomat, Decro was unprepared for the likes of the stone-grey concrete building that tavern that Tano'rath had invited him to. However, he was here to form ties with the Drakonian Empire so he reluctantly went along with the plan.
The two of them entered the pub where they were met with the sight of drakonians sitting at a wooden bar, drinking at round tables, and playing billiards at pool tables. They were still dressed in the same attire, having came here directly from the headquarters. Tano'rath was in his uniform, fitting in with the rest of the crowd, some of whom were also wearing various military attire. Decro never felt more out of place in his life, a wolf among drakonians, dressed in ceremonial robes that looked more at home in a history museum than the pub.
"Ayy!" Tano'rath threw his hands into the air in greetings, receiving cheers and waves from some of the bar's patrons in response.
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Of course, Kurtis, known to everyone as Mister Space was there, so I threw my arms up in the air and waved at him. "Ayy! Hullo!"
"Ayy!" Mister Space hollered back, waving at me.
I grinned as I walked over to the grey scaled drakonian. He had recently dyed his belly-scales red too. His mane was white and he had kept a seat for me too. Unlike me, he had no wings. "So."
He smirked. "So."
"You're fat," I remarked, as I waved the bartender over and ordered a large beer, one for me and one for Decro.
Kurtis threw a coaster at me in retaliation. "You're the fat one."
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Cautious not to let his accent further alienate him from the rest, he kept quiet as he took a seat next to the black drakonian. He nodded at the bartender as the bartender slid their drinks over to the pair. Tano'rath downed his drink in one gulp and slammed the wooden tankard down on the table. Decro, however, gingerly brought his mug to his maw and gently sipped it.
A strong, bitter taste filled his mouth and the wolf tried to hide his involuntary gagging. He placed the mug back on the table and tried to wash away the fruity aftertaste with his saliva.
Tano'rath glanced over and nearly fell over laughing, slamming his palm on the wolf's back, almost throwing him off his chair. Decro winced from the impact but kept silent. Diplomacy, diplomacy, although he was having second thoughts about the experience. He forced a smile back at the drakonian. "Haha, yeah..." he grinned awkwardly.
Seeing Decro's hesitant attempts at drinking, Tano'rath grabbed the wolf's mug from him and downed it in another gulp. "Xeroth! Get this fuckin runt a fuckin cider! Can't take his bloody beer, this one! And I want two mugs of that fancy-ass liquor for me and Kurtis here!"
The wolf shrugged and brushed the crude quips off as he sipped the sweet and sour cider from the blue glass bottle which the bartender handed to him with an amused snort. Tano'rath had already turned his back to him, facing the dragon apparently named Kurtis and engaging in a laughter-filled conversation.
Decro took another sip, letting the bitter aftertaste stay in his mouth as he tried to drown out the noise of the crowd. This was going to be a long night indeed.
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I didn't expect Decro to come along, let alone drink beer.
Either way, I ordered my usual drinks and tried to get Decro to talk to more than just me, but he was so intent on keeping quiet, that I had nothing to work with.
Kurtis, on the other hand, had his usual flood of stories from the front. He was, after all, a combat medic. He saw both the best and the worst in people. Which was probably he liked his drink.
However, our catching up was cut short when a blue-scaled female barged into the room. It was immediately obvious that she reeked of heat pheromones. "Rakon! You scoundrel! Come here this second!"
She then proceeded to throw a chair at one of the corporals in the room.
"Fuck," I muttered and grabbed Decro. "We need to get out. NOW!"
I glanced around to find that Kurtis had already evaporated into thin air.
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Decro yelped in surprise as he found himself getting yanked from his stool, spilling the golden cider on his robes. He had no time to react though, as he was dragged unceremoniously through the crowded bar.
Tano'rath was half-running, pushing other drakonians aside as he held the wolf's wrists. Some of the other patrons were also getting up to leave, bumping into Decro as he struggled to keep up with the drakonian. "Sorry," he mumbled repeatedly in response to each person as he pushed past them.
The pair finally got to the door and streamed out along with the rest. Tano'rath pulled Decro to one side and they both leaned against the wall, panting as they caught their breaths.
"Sorry about that, Ambassador. She was in heat, and she instigated a dominance fight." Tano'rath remarked, trying to catch his breath, "It is….normally something we keep at home, but it seems like someone didn't give his mate enough attention." He looked up and down the street. "It is regretful that you had to see this."
Decro shrugged. "That's fine," he smiled understandingly. "I appreciate the..." he fidgeted the folds of his robes as he chose his words carefully, "raw experience of tonight."
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"Well, my job was to show you Drakonian culture. I showed it to you." I replied, shrugging. "Sorry about the spilt cider. I'll clean your robes for you if you don't mind."
It seemed as if he thought he was obligated to follow me to the pub, and I was compelled to add on. "You do know that you could have said no and moved on to rest in your allocated apartment, right?"
"I believe you extended the invitation to me, and I was obliged to accept," Decro looked aside, refusing to make eye contact. He was obviously uncomfortable. I found that amusing.
I couldn't help but snort. "No obligations were involved, ambassador. I just thought it would be nice to invite you. I go to this pub quite often, as you might have noticed, well, as often as my posting allows."
"I guess I have a lot to learn about Drakonian culture," Decro smiled sheepishly and awkwardly as he bowed. I broke wind.
"Anyway, I'll drop you off at your apartment, then I'll come to get you for the tour tomorrow. That all good?" I replied, scratching an itch on my tail, "I hope you have no qualms if I drive my own vehicle?"
"That would be good indeed," he nodded.
I shrugged again, as I led him across the road. "There will be a washing machine and a dryer in your allocated apartment, and your luggage will be there waiting for you. Again, I apologise, but well, this is as authentic as a tour will get. Either way, I will be blunt here. I am a frontline trooper. I am no diplomat, so yeah. I can't give you the experience a proper diplomat will, but they would never show you a pub like this either because they'd think it improper."
I brought Decro to my ute, and helped him in, before we drove off. I decided that he didn't have to know that I drove in races with this vehicle.
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The two of them pulled into the drop-off point of a tall apartment building with Tano'rath grinning in excitement and Decro mildly hyperventilating, both reacting to the former's aggressive driving. When the vehicle stopped, Decro stumbled about on the ground trying to catch his balance.
Tano'rath hopped out of the ute almost casually and helped Decro into the lobby and up to his floor. "Please inform me if there is anything that you need."
"Will do," the wolf nodded, standing stiffly as he waited.
"Acknowledged," Tano'rath handed him a business card and the keys to the room before walking away. There was a sound of screeching tires as Tano'rath's utility vehicle sped off, did a drift around the bend and disappeared over the hill in his hurry to leave.
Finding his room was fairly easy and Decro soon found himself in an elegant apartment room, furnished with a fancy bed, plush couches and a wide-screen television built into the wall.
The tired Decro slumped onto the couch. His robes were still damp and he needed a change of clothes. The wolf looked around the apartment for his luggage bags, but couldn't see them. "Huh," he pondered as he got off the couch. They weren't in the hallway. Not in the closet either. Or the bedroom. "Huh."
If nobody brought his luggage up to the room, then they would've still been in the car. His eyes widened in panic as he rushed to the wall-mounted phone, whipped out Tano'rath's business card, and dialled.
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I was cruising on the highway when an alert popped up on the windscreen HUD, indicating an incoming call. I didn't bother to check who it was since I was in a rush to meet my own mate. I simply picked up. "What?"
It turned out to be Decro, which was considerably annoying. I wanted to go home.
He blabbered on about his luggage being missing, and I assured him that it would be found. He insisted that the luggage was in the limo, but I was sure it wasn't there.
I had to do a big circle around the highway, and called several logistics departments, screamed at them for a while, and finally found out that the luggage was still at the spaceport.
Hence, I broke any and all speed limits, collected the luggage, and dropped it off at the apartment building. I couldn't be bothered to carry it up, so I drafted two sentries to help me with the bags, which were sent up to Decro.
And with that, I finally ended the day and drove home in the biggest cloud of tyre smoke that I could create.
I just wanted to go home. It was probably one of the few times when I wished that I was back on my ship, rather than on the homeworld.
I was already late. I hadn't time to think about all these things. Fiora had already called me twice, and I had promised that I would be there an hour. Hence, I drove hard and fast, leaving tyre marks around almost every corner, before finally reaching home barely in time for our dinner.
I got scolded anyway.
Bloody mammals. They ruin everything.
At least the food was good. Fiora was an outstanding cook. Even if her slaps hurt pretty badly.
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Decro flopped onto the bed in a fresh set of robes. The guards who brought his luggage up to the room seemed on edge, mumbling something about "the Captain" and "furious" before disappearing down the corridor, but it was probably nothing to do with him.
The day had been intriguing, if not a little overwhelming. Tano'rath had seemed a tad rough around the edges, which was par for the course for a frontline soldier like Decro. Still, it was the beginning of a relationship between the Canius Council and the Drakonian Empire, one that would hopefully pave the way to years of peace.
His thoughts faded away as fatigue washed over him, pulling him into a deep sleep.
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~ End ~