The pace of the two men was relatively hurried, not only trying to match the Ophisian Lord's longer strides, but also to try and make the ceremony on time. The pair of them were ushered to the side, up upon a raised platform where they could look down at the proceedings at hand. It seemed that with their arrival, all the seven Lords had finally been gathered.
Erling was familiar with three of them, at least. Or, as familiar as one could get with a colony of eels anyways. It was still a little hard for Admiral Erling to discern between Ophisians he'd only just met, but with the three he'd begun to pick up little cues and tells that differentiated one from the other. Stance and posture, the way they spoke, and differences in their size. The ornamentation of their armor was also one way to tell, though that quickly fell flat if they ever decided to wear something other than what he recognized.
The Terran's familiarity with Amenmesh was self-explanatory as the primary diplomat between the two species, and they'd met fairly often within the embassy. Zisuthra was the second most familiar 'face', known to Erling as some sort of famous general in a civil war not too long ago. Megalu was the third, supposedly the youngest Lord, and apparently a bit of an eccentric, though Erling had never been able to understand what exactly made him so strange. It was enough to earn him the title of the Abberant, however. Megalu had always visited under escort by one of the other two Lords, and they'd spoken the least.
Of course, Erling was at least familiar by name in regards to the other members of the Assembly. Ugar the Old, Ikishun the Poet, Nosi the Last, and finally the most hated Lord of them all, Ua-Menlir the Heretic. Nosi had apparently abused the power of the Assembly once, long ago, and as such was banned from ever reproducing, hence his name, by for such a religious species, for someone to be given the title of Heretic was surely a most terrible and hated member. As far as it'd been explained to him, Ua-Menlir had been the one to wage civil war against his brothers, though Lords warring against each other was a fairly common occurrence, what had made the Heretic's own effort so blasphemous was his attempt to kill his brother Lords, and unite the Ouroboros under his rule by abusing the holy texts of his people.
The ceremony began with a prayer, as most Ophisian ceremonies did from Admiral Erling's experience. A song of some sort, most of it beyond his understanding using much more difficult and archaic vocabulary, though Noah besides him was a bit better educated in such things and whispered to him what he could piece together through a private channel between them. The man had settled down a fair amount compared to only a few minutes earlier, and he quickly settled into his role as a diplomatic observer as he studied the proceedings with great interest.
Once the prayer was done, however, things quickly jumped into business. Every Lord was to cast a nomination, and the one with the most would become king, or Lord of Lords in more ceremonial vernacular. First was a vote for Lord Zisuthra, from Amenmesh himself. Next was a vote for Amenmesh, which seemed to stun Amenmesh for a moment.
Erling narrowed his eyes, using the zoom function within his environment suit's helmet to take a closer look at the Lord's many faces. Ophisians were never the most emotive of species, and the Lords often seemed to have a responsibility to carry themselves with bearing, but even with Erling's limited experience in dealing with the aliens, Lord Amenmesh's surprise was relatively apparent.
“Does he not want to be elected as king...?” Noah muttered quietly. Evidently, the man had noticed it as well. “Or maybe he's just surprised that particular Lord voted for him?” Erling himself stayed quiet, continuing to watch silently.
Another vote for Zisuthra, cast by the Lord himself. Two for Lord Ugar. One for Ikishun. Finally, Megalu voted for Amenmesh. A three way tie. Before either of the Terrans could ask the other what they thought was going to happen next, the priests stepped up without hesitation, casting nominations themselves.
Amenmesh's priest voted for Zisuthra. Another for Amenmesh. Zisuthra's own voted for him as well. Another vote for Ugar. It seemed as if Lord Amenmesh's apparent wish for Zisuthra to lead the Assembly was back on track, mostly. The Lord led by a single vote, but there was one final one yet to be cast. Lord Ugar's priest would likely either vote for Ugar himself, or simply cement Zisuthra's victory, or so it seemed in Erling's eyes. Of course, instead, she voted for Amenmesh instead. A brief study showed that Amenmesh was just as stunned, if not more so than he had seemed earlier. Things had obviously not gone to plan, and a brief look over towards Ugar showed that the Ophisian was obviously upset over something. The Terrans were left to speculate between themselves as to what exactly had happened as the ceremony came to a close, before the Lords were dismissed, and Amenmesh came to gather the humans.
They'd traveled a little ways down the corridors before Amenmesh stopped to ask them a question.
“An election, right?” Noah answered first. “Lugal Gu'Enak is a rite to determine who shall become Lord of Lords. But... You tied with Lord Zisuthra.”
Admiral Erling crosses his arms and tilts his head slightly. “What does that mean now then? One of you has to prove you're the better nomination. How do you prove yourselves?”
The carrier fleets of the Terran Remnants were the pride and joy of their military. They are the biggest and strongest collection of military firepower in the Terran arsenal, carrying dozens of ships and entire invading armies, as well as signifying the most powerful form of power projection that the Admirality had at their disposal. It was where nearly all the generals and admirals aboard the Board of Admirals had served in some way or form as part of one of those fleets. To serve with a carrier fleet was the star posting of any young officer seeking to climb the ranks. Commander Sarah Heyes was perhaps stationed in the furthest post she could have gotten from an illustrious position within those fleets.
The colony of New Victoria was one of the Terran Remnant's newer acquisitions. An arid and barren planet that supported no known life at the time of discovery. What it did have, however, were rich mineral deposits, a gravity with similar conditions to Terran Nova, and an atmosphere that could be feasibly terraformed into something much more habitable within the next five or so decades. The colony itself consisted of a number of mining and terraforming outposts surrounding a single population center of perhaps 400,000 or so. And as with all colonies under the Terran Remnants, New Victoria was provided a basic defensive fleet, largely to deter things such as piracy or smuggling.
Every system had a number of 'police vessels', ships equipped with only sub-light engines and without the usual dual-engine design of most Terran military vessels. Slightly less well armed as well, the only advantage they really boasted over proper ships of the line were their tougher armor, but when considering their role in simply policing the system, as their name implies, they didn't tend to need much more than what they were equipped with. These ships were usually supplied and manned by the local planetary or system administration; the civilian governments left intact during the civil war; but New Victoria's developing state meant that what few they had were on-loan from a neighboring system.
When things proved too much for the system police to handle, however, there were small picket fleets of more proper Terran Remnant ships stationed at every colony. Numbering usually at four to six vessels, their role was to provide a bit of a more heavy handed deterrent against pirates, or any secessionist movements that may develop, or if things developed beyond their control, they were tasked with fleeing and sending word to the Admirality in order for them to send a more proper task force to handle things. These picket fleets were the furthest flung from the glory and fame of the carriers, and were often staffed by officers who'd fallen out of favor, and enlisted men who were unruly and troublesome, or perhaps just unlucky. It was where careers went to stagnate and die, and Commander Heyes was the frustrated and tired woman in charge of the local picket.
In the wake of First Contact, there was much abuzz through the scientific communities as they asked what else could be out there. Records from Basilica Station made mention of numerous alien civilizations, but many had wondered if the galaxy harbored life aside from themselves anymore. The Ophisians proved that possibility wrong, and almost immediately xenology became the biggest and fastest growing field of science.
While the men and women in white lab coats looked to the alien, many military minds from the Praetorian Admirality looked out for things more... recognizable. If alien life could survive and thrive out in the great beyond, then perhaps what remained of humanity could as well. Were the Terran Remnants the only trace of mankind left in the galaxy? Or could there be other, scattered survivors?
In the span of months, the Admirality had gathered a number of expedition ships, and using what little information they could scrounge from the archives from Basilica Station, they sent these ships out, pointed towards the last known locations of humanity in the stars, blazing rip lanes out in a wild fashion that was before unheard of. The creation of civilian rip lanes was tightly regulated by the Praetorian Admirality, but in the face of potential fellow human life... A few precautions were thrown to the wind.
Lieutenant Commander Lyle Vales was the captain of one such exploratory vessel. Supplied for a mission that could potentially last weeks or months, particularly if something was to go awry the TRNS Celer
was crewed by a staff of only several dozen. In all honesty, that was all they really needed, seeing as the majority of the voyage was simply travel, passing through empty systems as they searched and scanned for any signs of inhabitance, either current or prior. It was perhaps lucky for the crew of the Celer
that their estimated final destination was a fair bit closer than those of a number of other similar vessels sent out, and the crew made ready for what could perhaps be the final jump to their destination.
Activity was minimal across the bridge, despite the potential end of their already several weeks long journey. Perhaps they'd find something, and perhaps they wouldn't. There never were really high chances of discovering much in the first place, and the crew had known that from the beginning.
“Rip drive is on standby to receive power, and radiation is within safe levels.” One of the bridge crew called out as they readied themselves at the edge of an empty system behind them.
“All non-essential systems have been shut off. Power being rerouted to the rip drive now.” Another says, as the lights in the bridge shut off, and red emergency lights come on.
“Course plotted, we're ready to go on your command, sir.”
Lt. Commander Vales nodded once. “Very well, initiate jump. Let's see if we'll have anything to bring home with us at the end of all this.”
And with that, the TRNS Celer
jumped, the space in front of it seeming to morph and bulge until space itself tore open into an angry red wound in reality into which the ship drifted into as it began to pick up speed.