(Collab with @Wernher
The magic of technology never stopped to amaze. In the center of the room was Vermillion Cray, Holder of Power of the Union and also its top general. Both under the virtue of him having more charisma than the rest. Oh Drachma had some too, but he was more of a salesman, he could sell you an idea, but Cray could make you believe. Still, Drachma was sitting in the room, eager to watch this. The whole clique (or the oligarch as some would call them) was watching.
"Alright, I'm ready to get this show started."
Yul, director of technologies, pressed a few buttons, he was the technical one (obviously).
"You will be online... now."
The room darkened, in front of Vermillion, Sahrova Verasha in blue tones. This technology wasn't perfect but still, this was impressive. Yul said that soon, it would be like this person was in this very room, implants in your brain would allow you to even feel the touch of someone else planets away.
Said Cray, as if not certain this was actually working.
"Good evening, gentlemen. It's nice to- is meet the correct word here? I suppose it is. It's nice to meet you at last. I was very intrigued by the letter you sent previously, and after some deliberation, I would certainly be interested in your offer.
The enmity between our two species is historically vast, but there is a great threat which has been looming over the globe for some time now. If we don't cast it off now in its moment of weakness, we may never have another opportunity."
Sahrova paused, taking a look at a sheet of paper next to her.
"Naturally the People's Republic would be interested in some kind of defensive arrangement, as while the Imperials are tied up for now they may not remain so for very long. And if they regain control, they will no doubt keep you planetbound for many years to come.
Fusion power is certainly something within our power to give you, and the world. The Cindorayi have hoarded any technical secrets that they felt could give them an advantage in war. However, the critical issue with laser technology which would make it hard to reproduce is the Cindor crystals, which only grow in arctic climates. We can share some aspects of this with you, but you will have to find your own way to store power which will likely be less efficient. Still, having the technology to produce them efficiently with what energy you do have may still be useful for you, so we offer that as a partial offering, commensurate with your financial assistance. If that is acceptable to you, we may move forward."
Vermillion nodded quickly, not taking a moment to think as around him, away from Sahrova's vision, people whispered about the implications of this.
"I only ask that you help us in the realm of the possible. But please! I actually find the gap not so large between us. Really the business of your species was with the Aldabetans. We Kobolds? Well, until now we were on the back seat of the history of the world. We should hate each other because of old colonial masters? No, if the Aldabetans had won, we'd have been in the same position really. But no matter.
This is all, indeed, very much acceptable and I hope you don't consider this all a trade, more of gifts between friends, I truely meant that this money was not conditional to any assistance on your part. But to business we should go. My main points are how to reveal our special status to the world and how to contain the Empire. There are now holes in their coverage of the planet, enough to slip by reinforcements for you but I don't know if it would be enough to turn the tide should they manage to rebuild..."
"It is, as you put it, done business. I agree there is no reason to bring up such petty struggles."
Sahrova waved her hand as to dismiss that topic.
"Of course. If we are to be friends, it is only natural that we support each other in our time of need without strings necessarily being attached. The primary issue is that if you move to support us too overtly, the Empire will attempt to contain you with what means remain at their disposal. Though they are weakened, this is still a futile effort. All I would ask is that you recognize our independence, as you have said you will do, and keep the Empire distracted. If you begin to build up your forces and orbital infrastructure, they will have no choice but to keep an eye turned your way and away from us. No doubt the other powers will attempt to do so as well, mainly the Vaspen and Sumuta. The Sumuta have also been very positive in communications, and between them and you a real containment coalition could be on the way. As long as your forces continue to grow, it will be risky for them to attempt a reconquest. When you and we have sufficient force to oppose them, we can simply declare our shared defense and they will be left without any real possibility of recovering their hegemony.
Naturally, any support you can give us in ensuring our defense on the planet would be appreciated as well."
The look on Vermillion's face darkened as Sahrova spoke, ending with a silence between his reply and her last words. It was of course calculated, in truth, he really didn't care about all that, it was just about how much he could milk this situation.
"I understand your plan, it is a good plan. I have however a duty to my people... While you do not advocate to blow up the powderkeg we are in, something I am thankful that you'd consider, you still ask me to put even more powder in it. This constant escalation of military expenditure... Money better spent on education and healthcare if you ask me. We both know the Empire will not so easily relinquish its hegemony after having fought so hard to get it, 'an insult to those who died in the Void War' I'd imagine they'd call it.
Premier, I am sympathetic to your cause, I am, but do you think perhaps diplomacy could work? If I go blindly with your plan, my people might accuse me of not thinking of their security and say, with some truth, that if worst came to worst, we would all die, signing the death warrant of the Empire while doing so but leaving you unscathed.
Again, I know something must be done and that unfortunately it will require strength, at least a show of it, but even if emergencies after emergencies prevent elections, I still cannot ignore public perception if we go down this road."
And then of course, they came to the meat of the problem, the Holder trying hard not to show the cunning and sly smile his race was known for.
"Although overt support between us would attract the ire of the Empire, it would still show both of our people than it isn't just calculated politics. A show of brotherhood, something to show we are in this together as brothers and sisters... May I have your thought?"
All around Vermillion, the oligarch were at the edge of their seats. Sahrova was just a revolutionary, placed there by force by likeminded individuals. She was not a diplomat, not even a politician. It was time to see if she passed the test that separated prey and predators on the world stage.
Sahrova had a touch of disappointment to her face, but she soldiered on, giving one last parting shot.
"I understand your concerns. It is a difficult and perilous path, the path of blood. Once one embarks upon it, it is difficult to turn back again. But the Empire has been wading ever deeper into pools of it since its creation. You may be comfortable now, but had our revolution never taken place and perhaps in future that blood pooling beneath the Empire may become yours. They are not reasonable. They have committed mass slavery and genocide, and will do so again if you let them. The short term may be appealing, but in the long term we will all suffer at their hands. You are all engineers, albeit of a state rather than a piece of machinery, a far greater task, so you may recognize this wisdom.
In that case, I offer you a new and more ambitious project. A world is a vast place, full of opportunity. The simplest way to show the brotherhood between our two nations would be to bring them together. We would be happy to welcome citizens of your nation for a settlement on Cindorya, under something like an embassy agreement. We would be allowed to connect with your people, and your people with us, and hopefully foster new interplanetary commerce as a result.
In such an agreement, our stance together would be obvious. Any measures of defense to preserve that partnership would be simply that."
Under his breath, Yul whispered 'fucking cunt' or some other insult, even Vermillion knew she basically spat in his face. Even if she was honest, it made it all even the more ridiculous... but no, it couldn't be honest, the way she said 'under something like an embassy agreement', as in something that could be revoked any time. Oh he couldn't blame her, the kobolds reproduced so fast they'd outnumber the local population in generations, forever changing the democratic landscape of that planet. He'd have done the same thing if he was her. But it showed where Sahrova stood: She was a Cindorayi first, democrat second. Just as well, since Vermillion was Kobold first and democrat when it suited him.
"I will do my best to make my people consider your points. Though I don't believe nuclear war to be good for any short or long term goal of ours. Be certain we are your unconditional supporter then and I am eager to see what the future will hold for us, only good things I hope."
Vermillion forced a laugh and continued.
"For now though we're still burning fuel to get up there, my kid in stellar engineering will be happy to know we can put our mass driver ideas to the test without hell raining down on us so trade will have to wait until we figure this out. On parting words though. A gift to the world of fusion technology would be a statement of your generosity to the world, a gift of laser technology to us something to help us keep the power balance back here, but might I ask for insights as to send things in space as a personal favor? I'd doubt it'd help us for the scramble to space that's happening now but in the future I'm sure it'd help make this 'trade' you speak of possible."
The reptile scratched his chin as he looked at Yul with a raised eyebrow.
"Hm. Maybe if the lasers aren't powerful enough to be useful, they could be enough to propel a solar sail and save even more fuel then?"
The question was genuine, even if Vermillion hoped it would make him seem even more of a 'benevolent scientist' for the premier, and even Yul raised a curious eyebrow at this.
"Sorry, just kobolds being kobolds, forgive me for trailing off!"
Even Sahrova could tell they were displeased at her proposal. It was only the natural way of things, as she had little to offer in way of instant gratification or assistance.
"Ah, of course, it's not an issue. I am often sidetracked in thought myself. These are indeed matters of great weight. The primary reason for my proposal is simple, though, and relates to your favor. Fuel is a grave concern for space travel, and the source of the majority of its costs, which is why you are so eager to find a way around it. There is however a project in progress on Cindorya which may be of interest to you in that case. There is a great mountain which we call Mount Fistok, which is far greater than any mountain that exists on Nova Mondial, nearly ten kilometers in height. It quite nearly reaches outer space all by itself. We have begun the process of establishing a rocket launch facility near its peak, which would be nearly akin to the Space Elevator in terms of fuel savings in conjunction with Cindorya's lower gravity. Utilizing this, we and potentially you could begin space construction to rival that of the Empire. Just a thing to keep in mind, as the Imperials and their allies have kept the moon all to themselves so establishing a spaceship production facility may not be easy."
Sahrova nodded to herself, but a touch of caution appeared in her eye. "We would be happy to help with such an endeavor. There is plenty of room for collaboration between our two scientific staffs, and I am sure they can work out the relevant details if we provide a link for continued communication," she replied, not willing to specify further. "And of course, the two technologies we previously discussed will go ahead. I look forward to a long and positive relationship."
"Likewise Premier, I'll put my staff in contact with yours. End of communications."
In the kobold room, the premier disappeared and Vermillion moved his hands on his eyes, looking at all this light gave him a headache.
"Ah! That fucking snake! Sly devil, whore of the dark gods!"
To this, Yul smirked as Drachma shrugged and answered.
"Well, she tries to do the best for her 'country'... but this is just how Cindorayis are, a change of government doesn't change their race."
It wasn't less anoying either. Well, they had gained good understanding of their new 'allies' and some tech to go with that. Maybe they could even bluff the Empire that along with the laser tech they had gotten crystals though this seemed unlikely. Ugh, if she had been a rebel within the Empire proper down here on Mondial she wouldn't have been so keen to not beg for assistance like she should be doing right now. But Vermillion knew he couldn't just force her hand, she could do something stupid, like go for Vaspen for help. It was better to have her stick to the Union than anything else that would be too radical.
"So we have that option. I don't think the colonists would betray us, likewise they couldn't compete with us in the colonial rush to to their low population, they have an entire planet to populate before they need to expand. Still... there may be more gains to be had elsewhere."
Tannhauser was right, it was the 'safe' long term approach but... democratization of space wasn't desirable. In the slightest. Mistakes now could be felt for generations. Finally, Vermillion nodded.
"Fine. Send report as to what transpired to Guno for the imperial negotiations."
"So, Anya, what do you think?" Sahrova turned to the Foreign Commissar.
"You're a beautiful, naive fool, you know that?"
Sahrova practically sputtered in surprise. "What on earth do you mean?"
"Anyone could tell they were trying to grab anything they could get. Only reason I didn't stop you was the same reason you were trying it. If the kobolds and Imperials end up fighting, and the kobolds have better tech, hopefully they stayed distracted. But you should really promise less next time. If you had tried to give them plasma thruster technology, I would have seriously had to have pretended that your father was dying and you had to go or something."
"If only," the Premier whispered under her breath. Anya caught it, but she didn't pry. "Anyway, here's hoping they mean at least a little of what they say. I never trust a kobold, but maybe you'll have better luck."