It was business as usual for the Zelrio Corporation. On the surface of Oria, despite their monumental size, refineries were nearing capacity yet again and pumping out materials like it was nobody's business. Materials were sent to the Tristam Space Elevator, where they processed further, and sent wherever they were needed. On the edges of the ground colony, gunfire could be heard as defenders held off another wave of Vacuarians which tried to scramble up the walls. They wouldn't get through, however that tended to be a different story for the mines that were further away from the main colony. With less defences than the colony itself, every attack ended in deaths on both sides. Thankfully, few of those deaths were actually human in the case of the defenders - with it being so dangerous outside of the colony walls, infantry drones were the brunt of the defenders out in the sticks. Apart from Combat Controller teams, of course.
In space, shuttles buzzed between stations like traffic on a highway. People going about their business, freighters delivering goods to the numerous stations that dotted space above Oria's atmosphere. Giant stations, far larger than any that had been over Earth in the past, held hundreds of thousands of citizens each, their homes and their businesses. Other stations had a variety of uses, such as hydroponics, storage depots, and military stations. Fully built stations weren't the only ones around, for other stations were in various states of construction in an ever-expanding network.
Jonathan Lawrence stood at his office's window, picking out individual stations by eye. The window wasn't real, of course; That was dangerous for anyone who decided to lop off the head of state. His office was buried so deep into Callihan Station that there was no possibility of a real window. Instead, it was a screen embedded into the wall, a pretend view to space and the planet below. Still, even if it wasn't a real
view, it was still one that Jonathan could appreciate. He only had the time to stand and gaze because of his position; He had been told by his predecessor that the position of National Director was a difficult one. Whilst Jonathan had previously believed it would be difficult due to the volume of what he had to accomplish, it was a different story; It was the political side that he was not used to. As the National Director, he had to make a lot more public appearances than he was used to, and had to slog through a list of projects to approve or deny. Thankfully, the other directors beneath him had their own duties, and took most of that job away, but every so often something troublesome would pop up.
For example, the gateway that had stood closed for several centuries suddenly sparking to life.
Minutes passed where Jonathan could do nothing but stare out into space, from where he had seen the spark and the light. He couldn't believe that, in his time as National Director, the gateway was going to reopen. It suddenly put a lot more responsibility on his shoulders. Privately, he had hoped that he was going to be long gone before the gateway opened, just so that he didn't have to deal with it. But here it was, and now, he needed to exploit it. To try and get back to Earth, to locate the remaining colonies. Thankfully, some preparations were already in place; Policy written long ago stated that should the gateway reopen, the Public Relations department would be renamed to the Department of Public Diplomacy and assume new, diplomatic duties alongside their old ones. Jonathan privately wondered if Amelia was actually upkeeping that part of the policy - he hadn't exactly cared for training diplomats, as there was no reason for them. Vacuarians didn't talk.
The National Director allowed his attention to drift to his terminal, which was blinking with many, many unread messages. On the other side of a glass wall was his secretary, his only companion within the office, shooting off as many replies as she could. Aiko was young and new to her role, however she was growing into it well after her father had retired. The Solaria family, from which Aiko hailed, had served the Zelrio Corporation since the beginning. They were loyal, and were known to be hard workers. Aiko was likely proud to be selected as the next Secretary of the National Director.
"Aiko, please open communications with..." Jonathan paused. Shutting his eyes for a few moments, he took in a deep breath, before deciding who he wanted to speak with. "With all of them. Put them all on mute, though."
In most meetings, the people usually trickled in slowly, some even tried to dodge out of the meeting for as long as they could. Not this time. Every Director poured into the meeting, filling Jonathan's screen with faces. Everyone was speaking, gesturing, waving their arms in a silent bid to find Jonathan's attention first, only to grow quiet as they realised that they were, in fact, not being heard. Jonathan looked between all of their faces, making sure that he had their attention, before finally speaking.
"As you all know, the Gateway has opened. I'm certain Director Everett wishes to flood us all with information from Wendegarr Station, and tell us how exciting this is, however I will save you all from that. Director Everett, we can speak about that privately, and distribute documents as needed. Then, if the other directors will hear you out, you can spiel to them all you want." That earned smiles from the others. They knew that they, and their valuable time, had been saved. Even Director Everett was smiling sheepishly.
"For now, nothing changes for the vast majority of you. Operations continue as intended, and everything will continue normally. We'll be attempting communications and outreach to any other colonies, as well as Earth. With hope, we can establish friendly relations, and open up trade. I look forward to making interstellar progress. With that being said, I announce to you all that the Public Relations department will be taking on a new name, and additional roles to go with it; the Department of Public Diplomacy. That being said, Amelia Cellica will now assume the position of director of the new department, and her previous position as manager of Public Relations will be occupied by one of her previous employees, alongside diplomatic positions."
"Finally, before I let you go, I will be designating space around the Gateway as a restricted zone. Only ships that have purpose there should be there. That's military, research vessels, and diplomatic ships. If you have a reason why you should be allowed through, send it, and I'll make the determination. Though, there is a possibility I may have that duty delegated to Director Cellica in the future. With that being said, you're all free to leave, bar Director Cellica and Admiral Sutherland. I'll need to talk to both of you." With that, they all began to disconnect. Jonathan knew that he would receive quite a few more emails soon, but he could bear with it. Soon enough, the only three people were himself and the two that he had beckoned to stay.
"My ships are already moving into position. I had predicted that it was going to turn into a no-fly zone. We've doubled patrols in that area. I have a feeling that if our gate has opened, others have, too. The dockyards have started to change some of their production over to military ships, now that there's going to be an actual need for them," Admiral Sutherland says, once he and Director Cellica's mutes were revoked. "I've doubled the amount of marines that we have stationed at Wendegarr Station, too. We're prepared, just in case. One of my frigates have reported that the gateway is receptive to us, so likely if other colonies are getting theirs back up, they'll be able to come to us."
"I've already started picking out diplomatic personnel from my existing personnel. I've started drafting up person specifications for Human Resources, too, and digging out the old training materials. We're going to have to start recruiting more personnel," Director Cellica explains. "So, my current plans..."
Three hours later, the trio were still discussing all sorts of scenarios. At the top of their list was First Contact, and how they were going to present themselves, as they were unsure how other the other colonies would take seeing that a corporation was running an entire colony, government and all. The conversation stopped when Admiral Sutherland suddenly held up his hand. "Directors, we've just had a ship come through the gateway. A shuttle, all by itself. Captain Lillith will be talking to them, as there are no diplomatic personnel there, yet. She'll be attempting to take them to Featherfall Station," the Admiral states. Both of the directors were alarmed; They hadn't expected anyone to arrive so soon!
"Director Cellica, I want yourself and... Two
Combat Controllers to meet the shuttle at Featherfall station, should they wish to land. The Combat Controllers are to serve as escorts for the shuttle's occupants whilst they are within our space. In fact, that'll be rule of thumb. Two Combat Controllers per diplomatic party. I want to avoid any incidents," Jonathan says. He was going to have to look into Captain Lillith's career later, she had good intuition to pick Featherfall station, rather than any of the corporate stations, or even coming straight to Callihan Station to see him like he knew some ship captains would have tried to offer. Featherfall was one of the most beautiful stations they had; it was several kilometers of land within a metal dome, like a gigantic, enclosed park. Stark contrast to the hell that was the land on Oria, which had random fires showing their face every so often amongst muddy and often charred land.
"Captain to the bridge, Captain to the bridge."
Olivia Lillith was on the bridge and in the captain's chair as fast as she could get there. Her eyes skimmed over reports that were flooding in. No shot,
she thought to herself. A vessel had already arrived through the gateway. There went her hope to be the first one in three hundred years to travel through one, but she still had a shot at being the first one of the Zelrio Corporation to fly through. "Kilo, give me an analysis of the ship," she asks.
The ship's artificial intelligence, Kilo, responded quickly to her query. "Barely a ship. The vessel meets the specifications of a shuttle, but for all we know, that could be another colony's version of a battleship." Olivia couldn't help but chuckle at the AI's explanation. "In any case, it's a small ship. Probably an envoy, or some sort of explorer or scout, clearly not a threat to us."
"Comm, send a message to Admirality, high priority, that we're going to be making contact with the shuttle. We'll try and get it to Featherfall Station," Olivia says. "And open a communications link to the shuttle. It's time to make first contact." Olivia waited until her communications officer gave her a thumbs-up, and then sent the first message.
"Unknown Vessel, this is Captain Olivia Lillith of the Zelrio Corporation, the colony of the planet Oria. We welcome you with open arms to our system."