Two Weeks Ago
On Alderaan, a pair of old-fashioned pieces of flimsiplast were passed from one side of the table to the other. The delegations each reviewed the document, covertly glancing at the other delegation while conversing in hushed tones between themselves. Finally, a member of each delegation signed their document, and exchanged them to be countersigned. A few cautious words were exchanged, and thanks made to the hosts of the meeting, before the group broke apart to go their own way.
Thirteen Days Ago
Across the borders of an empire, weapons fell silent. Stormtroopers pulled back to defensive positions. TIE Fighter squadrons broke off pursuits, reworking themselves into defensive patrols. Turbolasers stopped firing, leaving the vacuum of space cold and silent once more, as capital ship officers stood on their bridges, nervously glaring across the expanse at ships that had, moments ago, been targets.
The defense condition was high; across the wartorn reaches of the First Order, every eye watched the Galactic Alliance warily, waiting for them to fire. Waiting for them to slip.
Waiting for a reason.
Five Days Ago
Somehow, the peace held.
Cooler heads prevailed, and members of the First Order's armed forces had managed to avoid indulging their itching trigger fingers. Preparations for a summit at the Kaeshana Center for Diplomacy were well underway; soon, First Order and Galactic Alliance leaders would descend upon the Center to hammer out the details of a peace agreement between the two warring powers. Security officers were on hand to ensure the safety of the conclave as diplomatic officers ensured the smooth preparations for the meeting.
Two Hours Ago
The FIV Concordia reverted to realspace over Kaeshana, her hulls gleaming and with shining red markings indicating a diplomatic vessel. The ship was escorted by Battlegroup Nebula and, as always, transported the First Imperial Shock Troopers legion -- affectionately self-nicknamed Fortan's FIST. The Concordia's luxurious guest suites housed members of the First Order's diplomatic delegation: Foreign Secretary Valessia Creed, diplomatic aide Madlyn Sol, Minister of Security Dante Calgar, Minister of Defense and Supreme Commander Asharad Graush, and Samka Derith, acting as an observer for the Knights of Ren and for the Supreme Leader himself. Others were aboard to serve as observers as well.
Natasi Fortan was the head of the delegation and would lead the negotiations. She was accompanied by her husband, Talbot Vitalis -- not quite the honeymoon he probably expected, but things happened - and her private secretary Clémence Wallace. She had one more appointment before making her way to the diplomatic center, and this one she had to do herself, without the rest of the delegation. She boarded a Type-D shuttle with Wallace and Vitalis for the short journey to the surface, escorted by a troop carrier and an honor flight of TIE fighters. They landed only a few miles from the Diplomatic Center in a rare green spot on Kaeshana -- the evidence of the First Order's pilot terraforming efforts.
"I need a moment to myself," Natasi said. She picked up a small posy of white levels from the table and walked towards the exit. The shuttle had landed on the outskirts of a small woodland; Natasi followed a stone path into the woods, flanked by a military guard, until she came upon a peaceful thicket, dominated by a large, solid block of Avalonian white marble, hewn from a quarry not far from the capital on Dosuun. It stood in memorial for the dozens of scientists and aid workers who had lost their lives in the first volley of attacks by the Galactic Alliance. Their names were carved along the sides of the block. Largest of all, at Natasi's own instruction, was the name of Sioux Chambers, Natasi's former private secretary. She had been Natasi's truest friend, and her death had put Natasi on the warpath.
Perhaps that was selfish. Perhaps it was wrong. But the Galactic Alliance had wheedled and prodded and needled and antagonized the First Order until ignoring it for peace would have been criminally negligent.
Natasi stood in front of the marble block, silent and still for a few moments. She wasn't much for wearing her emotions on her sleeve, but in this moment she found herself choked up. She missed Sioux, more than just as a faithful employee. Natasi knew that winning the war wasn't going to bring Sioux back, but she thought that she might have more sense of achievement and closure now that it was over. But there was only emptiness. She stared at the memorial block for a long while.
She didn't know how long she stood there, but eventually Talbot approached along the path. "It's almost time," he murmured softly as he came to a stop behind her. "You said you wanted to get there early."
"Of course," said Natasi. She crouched and laid the posy at the base of the block before standing again. She pressed her hand to the carved name of her friend before reluctantly turning aside and walked along the path back to the ship.
The Center for Diplomacy was an imposing building, a testament to First Order might and progress. It stood in the crater left by the wreck of the FIV Wrath during the ill-fated rebellion on Kaeshana. The Grand Moff, with Wallace and Talbot, entered with the diplomatic attaché and was walked through the building. It had facilities for entertaining large parties, small parties, and all sizes in between, as well as guest suites in case negotiations required multiple days of discussion.
The conference room was a massive, cavernous affair in the top rotunda. A long table was set up in the center of the room -- for the principals -- inside a large, almost circular outer table for other important parties, and official guests and observers in the gallery. The mural disappeared, replaced by a holoscreen show data as required by the parties. Natasi would take her position at the center of the table on the left side, with Clémence sitting at the end where she could easily get up to communicate requirements to others in the room and elsewhere in the complex. She expected Calgar, Graush and Creed to join her there, and the others would sort themselves out.
Natasi gave it another look, then turned to the attaché. "Lower the temperature four degrees. With the lights on and people in the room, it will warm up nicely." She glanced at her watch; it was just about time. "Let's get out there, shall we?" They returned to the reception area outside the conference table, waiting for the arrival of the Galactic Alliance delegation.
Edited by Natasi Fortan, 01 August 2017 - 06:04 PM.