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BB5 - Chapter 10: A Meeting of Empires

BB5 - Chapter 10: A Meeting of Empires

Oct 08, 2020

Chapter 10 – A Meeting of Two Empires

Most of you think that first contacts run like this: you come across either two things, a primitive civilization of varying states from being hunter-gatherers or learning the power of gunpowder or even, maybe getting their industrial revolution done. The other one is to have... say a space-faring civilization that either has just broken the orbit of their home planet for the first time or have already some settlement in their moons and nearby planets they could reach.

And then you have this concept that yes, the first contact is made, and the heroes that our intrepid explorers have now done it peacefully and made their betters stand in awe at the sight of the majesty and power that an experienced explorer have in their arsenals of tricks and stratagems that would slowly convince future subjects and colonial protectorates of the glory and influence that the Centauri Republic would benefit them for the good of themselves and their people.

Of course, a story would not be amazing without conflict, whether the tribe’s religious caste claims we are unclean heretics because of the stars that aligned in a pattern upon our heroes’ arrival or a very greedy official that conspires to be the top boss in their little and petty games.

Depending on the events, the heroic explorers lose some of their companions or two to treachery and skirmishes but not before the intervention of natives to the cause. And rarer still, the life of the explorer is taken, but their deaths not in vain as they become the blood compact between Republic and vassal.

Sounds beautiful, no?

That is a big, fat lie that those washed-out hacks who have too much time and too little reality checks have written about my beloved corps.

This is not pulp fiction!

I say this: curb such stupidity out of your heads, or I will throw you out of the program.

House be damned.

- an opening lecture by Wayfinder Giblad (ret.) to cadets of the Imperial Explorer Corps.

Captain’s Quarters 
Good Omens

At the fifth hour of the morning timekeeper, Captain Senkov Loval of the Imperial Explorer Corps rose from an uneasy slumber.

A day of almost nothing to do was rare and precious in his line of work, and yet once again, he

After the meeting he secluded himself in his quarters, mentally preparing himself for the trial ahead, and reading everything that Doctor Vaner could translate and write some of his observations from the wealth of information from the first contact package sent immediately to his datapad.

To be an explorer didn’t mean just a wanderlust of adventure and having guts in traversing the void with a crew of similar mindset and hope for the best. To be an explorer was to have the mental capacity to have multiple mastery or at the very least, passing competence (and delegation to capable subordinates) in various fields of studies from psychology to stellar cartography to diplomacy.

After all, they couldn’t just hop over to the Imperial University for any problems that need solving. Or have a reliable connection to the emerging GalNet that was touted as the cornucopia of information and data, an interconnected network where supposedly any information was readily available if you will.

As he prepared his morning drink, a tea that invigorates the mind, he reviewed the summary notes that Doctor Kella Vaner sent him yesterday…


A day ago

They were guests of the Galactic Empire, thought the planet before them was a free planet of sorts, possibly playing death merchant in this long war.

The Empire was the legal successor of the now-defunct Galactic Federation after they had voted in their first emperor to solve their problems caused by their decadence and apathy in the waning years.

The Empire is at war with the Alliance of Free Planets, a breakaway opposition bloc one that wishes for democracy to be restored and to end the tyranny of the nobility and autocracy for the last 150 years. 

Call him biased, but the Centauri Republic was working as intended for a long, long time. He didn’t want something approaching the Alliance’s governance taking over his nation. He continued to review:

The human homeworld, called Earth, was in the regions of Imperial space and considered a backwater-

Wait, what?!

Senkov was jolted out of his reading, trying to mentally process that the cradle of a species has been relegated into an outer rim planet, instead of being the centre of power and administration, where one of the space-faring stellar nations would invest lavish sums and massive labour in every facet of the planet to display influence and soft power to foreigners and fellow species.

He continued reading.

-planet of insignificance as it had been ruined in a war between the homeworld and her colonies, and instead of following galactic historical trends where the victorious faction takes over the seat of power, it is abandoned now and forevermore.

He tried and failed, to think of any races of the known galaxy that would abandon their homeworld completely to the void.

It felt like sacrilege, to be honest.

What these humans had done was to put in an analogy he could understand, it would be a House taking over many of its foes in the struggle for Emperorship if the Great Game that turned nasty (as history had recorded) then burned down Centauri Prime to the bedrock, and then moved to a piddly planet out of nowhere like Asroc II as the newest capital.

That was as doing cultural genocide and psychological amputation to the Centauri. Even if the newest planet had the same characteristics as Centauri Prime’s environment, it wasn’t the homeworld.

He was dealing with something crazy here with these humans, and most disturbing, they had the power to wield to back up their claims instead of being one massive bluff to cover their weakness.

To his surprise, the Brakiri had the same thoughts as he sent in his opinion over the summaries.

Still, he had summaries to read.

The capital of the Galactic Empire is Odin, a pleasant place to be and one where we are going to if this works out. The rebel Alliance have their corresponding capital also, named after their founder. None have stated in official or unofficial terms a desire to go back to Earth and do something about it.


Not even restoration or as a memorial.

And he kept on reading, each entries becoming more preposterous and fantastical.

Fleets composed of tens of thousands of ships?! Thousands of planets and sectors under their control?! Both factions peer opponents to each other in a stalemated war 150 years running!

How are have these civilizations and governments not yet collapsed? From catastrophic demographic failure to economic debts that might even be in the trillions?

An unbidden and most unwelcome thought jumped into his mind: were they perhaps one of the fabled First Races? He quashed that lid down with a forceful manner.

He hoped not.


Drinking his tea, Senkov was now thinking of what to wear for this initial reception. Simple-minded souls would have just immediately said that wearing the standard Imperial Explorer Corps uniform was just the solution.

Those fools never knew that each accessory, each article of clothing meant a statement or an impression of where their stances and loyalties lie.

That was the Great Game that he so despised and had thought he escaped from.

To wear the badge and sigil of House Loval at this juncture was immediately binned. He was representing the entire Centauri Republic and race. That was easy ammunition to be given by the other noble houses, and he could already imagine the fabrications that the IEC colluded with House Loval in exchange for concessions.

Would he besmirch his comrades and his organization? No.

While the Explorer uniform was a standard grey jumpsuit, for the corp to state its idea in maintaining its neutrality from other House loyalties, as it was one of the few organizations that encompassed all of Centaurians, the corps allowed some latitude of customization, provided that it was earned.

Senkov knew that IEC was a brotherhood that celebrated individualism and relative freedom from the games that the nobility and imperial court played. So he had to choose his accessories wisely.

He would honour his calling by wearing a grey tunic, made of the finest silks that came from the man-eating giant spiders of Hasek VII. To break up the monotone, his trousers was one he didn’t wear often: a naval blue synth weave with crimson stripes running through the sides, a gift from an appreciative woman he parted on amicable terms two years ago.

Of course, to complete the look he was going with his calf-length explorer boots, the brown and genuine armoured bull craw leather his constant companion in trekking through hostile environments. To top it off, he would select his all-weather duster coat, one that he had been using

It was also armoured enough, having hidden ceramic plates in vital areas just in case of assassinations or conflicts that night erupt, and he had added in hidden compartments for some nifty devices, like holdout single shots and thinwires.

For accessories, he thought that having his trusty rapier on his side was going to impress the martial-minded nobility in that party. If they doubted him, then he was willing to show them their folly. It may not work against foes in advanced combat armour, but it was effective against cocky Brakiri thugs and predators that thought him easy dinner.

He was mindful that while he was a good swordsman, not getting into melee range was a great thing in fights, so he chose a simple laser pistol to complete his armed set. That way, if it gets “lost” it wouldn’t be a big deal compared to a phased plasma gun.

These accessories were for show, and if he was forced to disarm himself he still had recourse in the hidden compartments of his duster in defending himself.

Yesterday morning he received an invitation from one of Count Von Remscheid’s butler, a gilded paper envelope containing a handwritten invitation from the Count himself, which his datapad translated the words into him and his small party being invited to a formal dinner to be held in his honour at six in the evening, here at the station itself.

Why not on the planet itself opened up some interesting speculations, but one he could not either have a working mental model on, except ascribing Centauri values and mores on it.

The strongest and most plausible bet was that the count wanted to monopolize the entire situation fro himself, leveraging the party and them by proxy them for influence and favours in building his power base.

It was what one of the houses would have done in their stead.

Far from feeling alienated, Senkov felt familiarity -or was it bemusement?- from such action in its aching similarity.

After that invitation, samples of the menu and drinks were given by a courier, to which Doctor Vaner tested exhaustively in his laboratory with a battery of tests; and in an act of courage sampled the food.

He did not suffer allergies or immediately die upon ingestion. To test that it was not a fluke, he ate the entire samples and drank the wine and beer bottles.

Human cuisine was compatible with Centauri and Brakiri physiology, to their great surprise. Also, quite delicious to a pleased Brakiri scientist.

Now that he had no excuses in not eating their cuisine, he had a crash course in human etiquette regarding fine dining which the data package had in their files and one where he practised in the officer’s mess hall until he could get it down pat.

He included the Doctor and his two assistants in the dining room, as they were also part of the delegation, and he wanted them to not be dead weights or an embarrassment to their species and nation.

Outsider or not, he wasn’t going to be labelled an uncultured swine by these human snobs, thank you very much.

He chuckled at yesterday’s antics, finishing his tea as he reviewed the security team that would follow him for this occasion.

Sergeant Devalis, noted for being part of the Imperial Reconnaissance Teams for ten years, a storied special forces unit whose speciality was infiltrating enemy lines and wreaking havoc on soft targets.

Skilled in orbital insertion, void craft infiltration, and noted pistoleer for hitting targets with reliability at 100 meters, winner of the Master Pistoleer segment of the Annual Shootfest of the Armed Forces.

Transferred to the IEC, as he turned down the much-coveted instructor slot, which his psychological profile suggested a craving for adventure and quite action-oriented individual.

Senkov rolled his eyes at the officious talk, which meant that the good man had tasted adventure and danger, and was an adrenaline junkie for it.

Instead of being a liability, what Devalis had was iron self-control, and he could be counted on when to keep quiet. The need to be in the thick of it

Theta Squad meanwhile was Devalis’ squad that followed with him, asking for a transfer to IEC with their profiles indicating that they too, agreed with their commander's temperament and style.

That done, he now had to prepare for the rest of the day and coordinate with the officers and crew of the Good Omens in his absence.


Later that afternoon, dressed in his chosen fashion outfit, and his long black hair in a stylish ponytail, Senkov Loval cut a rakish figure.

His companion Dr Vaner opted for a humbler getup, wearing his laboratory robes like a visiting university professor, and Senkov could see that the robes were covertly armoured, and he went in with his archaic but still effective slugthrower as an accessory.

He would eat his Boonie hat if the professor’s butterfly knife wasn’t in there somewhere.

His assistants were with him, carrying the potted Living Pygmy Tree and the pair of books titled Meditations by Emperor Eshin I “The Enlightened” in its original Centauri codex and translated edition fresh off the printer for the Imperials.

To facilitate ease of communications everyone in the team, including the security group had translator earbuds attached, the computer loaded with the language presets of English, German, and Latin. It would take some considerable lag of three to five seconds, but a trade-off they accepted.

They were not going to reveal their cochlear implants that could do real-time translations.

The party of four met up with the rest of Theta Squad, the seven-man team that was to be their bodyguards for this entire trip, and Senkov greeted Sgt. Devalis, a stocky man that reached only to his shoulder, yet his eyes hinted at the danger that lurks beneath them.

Given that they were in potential enemy territory, Senkov decided to start with a bit of flair. “Sergeant, thank you for guarding us. I and the rest of my party entrust our lives to you.”

The short man said, “I shall hold your life in my hands, with my life on the line. My death for your life.”

Now that impressed him, as he didn’t peg his security head to know the ritual words. “And my life your duty. Colour me surprised sergeant, didn’t take you to know such things.”

Devalis shrugged. “When you get into bodyguard duty with young nobles, you learn a thing or two.”

“Still impressive though. So what are your duties for this occasion?”

“Me and my team are expendable in the general gist of things, as you and your party should be safe and sound throughout the ordeal. Become one of the furniture and keep an ear and an eye open for anything interesting. If things have gone to the sewers, it’s my prerogative to execute Black Berth protocols. Of course, the Chief of Security couched it in fancy terms, but that’s the gist of it.”

Senkov mentally filed that the sergeant was not a paragon of diplomacy. It seems plausible to have contributed to his transfer.

“Thank you for being blunt then, sergeant.”

The sergeant said nothing, and the party went outside of the Good Omens and into the station.

Upon their exit of the ship, Senkov noted that the architecture could have been at home back at Centauri Prime. Large spaces that screamed grandeur, grey hallways broken up by banners of the Galactic Empire, a stylized rendition of a crowned double-headed eagle, if the data was correct.

They were greeted by the same butler that had brought in their invitation, a spry old man with a white wig, the wrinkles of his face belying a calm and collected mien that is the core part of butlers, and it crossed stars and species across the galaxy. And with him were seven men in maroon livery broken with yellow accents and lines.

Household troops of the count, no doubt.

From the corner of his eye, he could see Sergeant Devalis and his team size up their human counterparts.

The butler stood waiting for them. “Gentlemen, a good afternoon to you. The Count is pleased upon your punctual arrival. I am here to lead you to the reception hall for the party held in your honour. Would the gentleman and his cohorts follow me please?”

Said butler turned back and began walking, with the guardsmen marching in file to serve as honour guard for the Centauri party.

Senkov and his men followed them, Theta team taking up the rear that the captain, the doctor and his two assistants were in the middle of the formation.

They moved through several hallways, with the area cleared of personnel and workers, no doubt given an advanced warning as to not impede their way.

But their butler didn’t walk idly, as he was speaking in a clear voice the correct behaviour they should display:

The gentleman is to call the Lord High Commissioner by his dull title, but should the count allow it, call him Count von Remscheid, as for the rest, ‘My Lord’ will suffice.”

The gentleman shall not approach within two paces of the count’s person, for both his safety and yours in this occasion.”

The gentleman and his party shall bow upon approaching the count, and speak once spoken to. This applies to other luminaries in attendance. Once initiated you are free to converse topics, of course.”

The gentleman must be aware that an exchange of gifts must be made first, followed by a speech from the count in your honour and your reciprocal address.”

Soon the grey hallways made way for tiled marble floors, baroque statuary of armoured beings and creatures lining the hallways, a lush red carpet now lining their steps as they approached a double-sided door as high as 20 meters, and as wide as 7 meters.

If those double doors weren’t genuine wood, Senkov would have taken something from his gemstone collection in his

Upon reaching their destination, the butler raised his head and said, “Please wait here. The gentleman must now ready his gifts but shall have his security keep their distance. I shall have the footman open the door and announce your presence in the ballroom.”

Though he didn’t show it, Senkov Loval now prepared himself for a long night of pageantry and theatre.

It felt just like home.

The doors opened, and a stentorian voice called to attention.

“Presenting, Captain Senkov Loval of the Centauri Republic’s Imperial Explorer Corps. Captain of the explorer ship Good Omens, Scion of the Great House of Loval and the person of the hour!”


To be continued...

A/N: Who’s going to be the guests of the party, and what will our Centauri man do? Find out in Chapter 11! Give thanks to Jaenera Targaryen who has helped me plan the party and dining experience, though that’s for the next installment.

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