The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: The Ambassador
PostPosted: 28 Nov 2008 15:04 
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Ambassador Moralton sat in the lounge area of the super liner Princes Royal. He had been appointed Ambassador to the Numerian Commonwealth only two months ago when the Numerians had asked for formal diplomatic relations after nearly 20 years of trading at Colindare Station.

Relatively little was known about them, not even their internal gate network. They had a fast growing merchant service with nearly 300 hulls cruising USSA and Roman colonies. The Numerians even had even showed a flair for gunboat designs and had mastered building balanced light convoy escorts, but they were crewed with relatively inexperienced crews. Oh yes, and they were good at the trading game. If one of them knew about a trading oppertunity, they all seemed to know about it.

They were about average hieght and build for humans, which meant that they were about two foot shorter then the average American heavy gravity citizen. The normal Numerian hair color was red or blond with the darker shades being much rarer.

Then there was the other thing. Numerian literature mentioned an event called the 'Destruction'. Though several of the translators over at State thought that that could be a mistranslation, it was generally agreed that whatever had happened had thrown them back to killing each other with swords and pointy sticks. However it added up, they had the oldest history by far of any of the human settled worlds.

Last, but not least, were their deep religious beliefs. The Native Customs Section at the State Departmnt had had really very little on their religion. It could literally be summed up in one sentence. They 'touched the Dream' and drew from it their way of life and the morals of the rightus.

He watched the Gateway expand from a pinpoint of light to a massive swirling expanse of orange fire. The Princess Royal and her cruiser honor escort slowly moved into the gateway. He knew what to expect on the other side and had been told an escort would be waiting for him. The route had already been planned out, even to his shuttle ride to the surface and then to the Visiting Embassy building in Orly. From there imported USSA workers would build the official embassy in about a year. Land had already been set aside for them. 54 acres of land. The embassy building only took up 3 acres at its base and was about 12 stories tall. Accommodations for his marine guard and staff had also been arranged. He looked over at those of his staff who had wanted to see this historic moment. Maybe half of the sixty or so staff were here.
Suddenly, the energies of the gateway subsided and they got their first view of Numerian space. A large space station slowly rotated in the distance, its bronze torus gleaming faintly. The ships around it were so small that they looked like specs of shiny dust. Much closer were four bronze destroyers and another ship that dwarfed them. It was likely the battleship Tiroch d'Tauren which was their escort to Numeria proper. It slowly slid into place beside the immense liner and her honor guard. From here it was a 5 hour passage to the Numerian home world.

His arrival had signaled "favored" trading status with Numeria and it looked like their merchants were taking advantage of it. A small cloud of freighters waited for his ships to clear the gate area so they could pass through. Several of his staff got up and went about their business. They would be back in time to get their first view of the blue white marble that would be their home for the next three years.

His thoughts were interrupted by Spurius Venator, a hired staffer recruited from Roma.

"Sir, may we speak privately?"

His eyebrow went up in surprise. Spurius was a rock. Almost nothing but his wife could shake him. And he never asked for favors. "Yes, follow me." He led Spurius to an emptier spot in the lounge. "How may I help you?"

Spurius looked like he didn't know what to say for a moment. Then, apparently deciding on a course of action, he blurted, "There's not enough noise!"

Huh? thought Morlton, Noise?

"I'm sorry sir. I didn't say that right. I don't sense really anything from the battleship. No mind noise at all. It may well be robotic or lord knows what! "

Moralton thought hard. This was not expected at all. The analysis at Langly said that the Numerians really were not very advanced at all. A robotic ship or psi shields turned it on its head big time. "Thank you, Spurius. Come with me. I need you to tell Linda this."

******

Linda Harriman had been intensely surprised by Spurius's revelations. She did not like surprises like this. You get somebody all nicely researched and niched and they throw a monkey wrench into the works. On the other hand, she always liked a challenge.

The cruiser captains had gone back and started a sensor log review and had determined that the battleship had indeed hailed them and passed the journey coordinates to them. And had done so in real time. No other ships had been near enough to do so except for the destroyers and they were in the wrong direction. So that left out a robotic ship, unless it had a very small crew. Considering the number of hatches and several large landing bays that could be observed, the battleship didn't seem to be heavily automated. Unless it was a trojan. It was theoretically possible that a computer could handle a conversation well enough to fool people for a while... Nah, she was looking for something that likely wasn't there. It was likely a psi screen of some sort. But, why? What would they develop a psi screen for? You didn't spend the effort to develop it and put it into a major ship of war unless it served a deliberate useful purpose. She would keep her eyes open.

*****

Moralton was in the forward lounge again. Numeria had come into view at last. Its twin moons and Lagrange points were visibly industrialized and the orbits were dusted with ships of all sizes and descriptions. The Pontiri Military Station had several destroyers attached and a few more moving away or awaiting clearance. The station was clearly capable of supporting a much larger force. If so, where was it? Motion off to his left showed the battleship Tiroch d'Tauren moving ponderously away towards the Pontiri station. At the same time, in a nearly synchronized motion, the four honor guard cruisers peeled off from their positions and began the long journey back to the Gate. He looked down upon the cloud swirled globe below and sighed. Alien races always had their own surprises, be it culture, or diet, or god knew what else. The Numerians were genetically human, just like him, but seemed to be a religiously oriented culture. One of the things he had learned at the State Department was to never mess with another's religion. It got them cranky. His valet, Sam, already had his things packed and waiting for him on the shuttle. The liner would be providing passage down to the Orly space port and the Numerians were to provide transport from there on out. He realized suddenly what had been nibbling at the edge of his mind. On every planet he had ever been to, he had been able to study its people, its architecture, and its culture long before he had arrived. There was so little really known about the Numerians that he had covered it in less then an hour and then had gone looking for other resources. This nagged at him. Even the Free Traders Association had had almost nothing. They either moved goods to their own planets in their own ships or the outsiders delivered at one of the massive space stations placed near the gates.
He laughed suddenly. The Numerian Embassy had delivered to him a hundred forty page precis describing cultural highlights and a breakdown of the governmental departments he would be working with. Included with the precis had been a basic language phrase book on a chip. It struck him as funny that this information had been all typed up and waiting for him to ask for it. He had made a copy and sent it to Langly figuring that the cultural section would find it useful. Three hours later he had been contacted by the Assistant Director and asked how he got it and just how reliable was it. He hadn't been quite certain about how to answer that so he gave the director the Numesian Embassies contact number and told him to ask for Althea, the secretary. The Directors aexpression had been priceless, but he thought he had managed to conceal his grin until after he had hung up. All in all it had been a good day.

*****

The shuttles overflight over the vast city of Orly had been instructive. Even from above it was a mix of the old and the new with broad swaths of green growing things. The nearby harbor had looked like it had ships with sails mixed in with massive super freighters. It all gave him an impression of the old world in transition to the new. The sudden influx of new technologies and ideas would be wreaking havoc with some parts of their culture. It often did with the lower technology cultures. Was that why they had been isolationists for so long? Why, after 20 years did they suddenly request an American diplomat? Why not a Roman one? He had asked the Roman Ambassador to America for any information the ambassador could provide. When asked why, Moralton had told Ambrosius about his upcoming assignment. The Roman had been miffed to say the least. The Numerians had not requested an Ambassador from the Romans. Ambrosius's language had been colorful, to say the least. He smiled at the memory. It had seemed like a good idea to smooth badly ruffled feathers and so he had approached Shakiri d'Ambrach, the Numerian Ambassador to America, about it. She had looked blankly at him and then started laughing. As it turned out, the Numerians had just not thought about it. They saw the Roman Republic as badly fractured and so had maintained relations with each of its provinces separately. It, she had pointed out, had worked quite well so far and, unless matters changed, would likely continue to work. There was just something about the way the Romans viewed the universe that made the Numerians uncomfortable. she hadn't elaborated even when pressed. There was one other thing he had learned as well that he just couldn't get out of his head. They didn't allow immigration. He had learned that from Leroy at the State Department. It was highly unusual to say the least. It didn't fit the Psycke profile done at Langly either. The profile had said that the Numerians were highly accepting of strangers and easily accepting non-Numerians into their circles of friends. They took their friendships seriously. So why no immigration? It was something he mused at until the shuttle landed.

The arrival ceremony itself was brief. He had almost reached the exit hatch for the shuttle when the American National Anthem had begun to play. When he stepped outside onto the mobile ramp he saw an honor guard consisting of 200 or so Numerian Soldiers in dark green BDU's with swords and rifles forming a corridor to a small fleet of black ground cars. They did do a good parade rest, he thought. To their right was a small 20 piece band in light blue Numerian Fleet uniforms. He waited until the American Anthem finished playing before continuing down the ramp.

Waiting next to the mobile stairway was an older man with a large balding spot in his salt and red hair. Moralton offered his massive hand in greeting. The old man, looking up at him, took it and shook it properly, then spoke,"Welcome to our Home, Ambassador Moralton. My name is Gal d'Tauren. In the name of the Prime Minister I formally give you Nali, and will be your liaison with the authorities while you get settled. I know that you are likely eager to see were you will be staying while your Embassy is being built. Your marines have already taken the cargo shuttles contents to their barracks, and will also be taking you and your staffs luggage as well. Arrangement have been made with your Colonel Albert Sanchez to ensure that your equipment and facilities are secure. If you would follow me?" The Numerians hand gestured towards the waiting shiny black limos.

As Moralton walked down the ceremonial red carpet to his black limousine, he realized that the cars ahead had American marines holding open the doors. They were sharply dressed in Marine formal dress, marred only by the fact that they were armed with standard issue assault rifles. The rifles were shined up to be sure, but were still field issue. They were not about to embarrass themselves or America.

He arrived at the limo and snapped a salute at the parade rest sergeant waiting for him. The man even had spotless white gloves. The Sergeant snapped a salute back and said,"sir, your transportation awaits. The rest of your staff will follow in the remaining vehicles. Welcome to Orly."

"Thank you Sergeant. I am hoping it will be a good experience for us all." Moralton got into the specious vehicle and was followed by the Numerian Liaison. He looked over at the old man and said, "I would like to meet with the Prime Minister and his cabinet as soon as we are settled in. How does tomorrow sound to you?"

Gal chuckled. "The Prime Minister has expressed a sincere interest in meeting you, sir." In a much more subdued tone he continued,"Unfortunately, the Trade Minister, Alurhia d'Galvin, is not available. Her husband is in the hospital. I'm afraid it's serious. The rights have already been read and the Song of Leaving sung. He will be missed by many who called him friend." Gals eyes were now closed and his face showed grief and loss. The rest of the drive was quiet as each man was lost in their own thoughts. Life intruded even here.

*****

The visiting Embassy building was on a 50 acre estate covered in trees, water falls and small pavilions. The building itself was like something out of New England except for its open verandas and large windows designed to be opened and catch the wind on hot sunny days. The three story red brick structure was partially shaded on two sides by massive towering trees that dwarfed the building itself. The Limo pulled up the circular driveway and stopped at the large porch in front of the tall double entrance doors. Three marines stood guard in front and one stepped forward to open the Ambassadors door first. A tall willowy woman in what looked like a tan military uniform also stepped forward from one side of the porch where several sets of chairs sat. She put away a portable tablet PC as she walked to the other side of the car to open it for Gal d'Tauren.

Moralton got out and looked around. There was actual bird song and what sounded like a fountain to his left. Gal came around the limo and stopped next to him.

"Shall we look at your home for the next few months? Hildibrandt House is a beauty. Over 300 years old and rich in history. Hildibrandt even served as the Prime Ministers house for almost a 100 years before the Restoration of the Constitution. It was a mini fortress in hostile times. I think they covered up most of the bullet holes." Gal smiled, his humor evidently restored. The young woman, evidently she was his aid, let a smile touch her eyes as they listened to Moralton laugh.

After Moralton finished laughing, he gestured to the house and said, "Come, lets go take a look and you can tell me about its bullet holes." He began to walk towards the twin doors to the entrance hall. When he reached the top of the stairs he looked around and saw the low rock walls hidden behind the shrubbery. He noticed that they had had enough fresh mortar to signify significant fixing and he saw what looked suspiciously like old bullet scars on several of the aged granite stones. Maybe Gal wasn't kidding after all? Hopefully, the violence was in the past. His mission was going to be hard enough as is. He waited for Gal to open the doors and then followed him on in. The entrance hall was two levels tall and had a broad stairway at the end leading up to the second level. The second level was open on both sides and had thick white painted balustrades providing the support for the upper level railings, and, incidentally, providing good cover for anyone shooting down into the entry hall. Above, in the middle of the ceiling was a massive crystal chandelier that seemed to dance and shimmer without any breeze. Just coming down the stairs was Colonel Albert Sanchez with his aid, lieutenant Melionia Garvez. The Colonel was a large man, standing at 8 foot 4 inches, weighing in at 590 pounds, and cut like an Olympic weight lifter. His aid was, at 6 foot 9 inches and weighing in at maybe 260 pounds, a good looking African American women and a dramatic contrast to him. Moralton figure that they were both dangerous as hell in their own ways and was quite happy to have them. "Colonel, are the men settling in?"

"Yes, sir they are. The accommodations are simple, but comfortable. The advance team has briefed us and we will be running familiarization drills tonight and tomorrow. They have put us into a easily defendable landscape and a house that is a defenders dream. The security system is not modern, but is well designed and we have been upgrading it slowly."

"So we are set?" said Moralton.

"Yes, Mr. Ambassador. You are probably better protected here then at the new embassy building. We also have Numerian SWAT police nearby and a police substation a mere five minutes away. We are in good shape physically and mentally."

"Good." Moralton turned to Gal d'Tauren and said, "Will you be available tomorrow for dinner? Say six or so"

"It is my honor, Mr Ambassador." Gal bowed slightly. "I shall leave you to the paranoid tendancies of your marine protectors. May your dreams prove restful." At that the old man smiled and turned to walk slowly towards the door. The aid nodded at Moralton and followed the old diplomat attentively.

Moralton continued the inconsequental chatter with the two marines until the Numerians had left then his face turned serious. "Colonel, anything I need to know?"

"No sir. This has to be one of the easiest going cities I have ever been posted in. We really only have to ask to get resources assigned to us and they ask us how we want it. Any people that we bring in go through security fairly quickly and get dropped on our doorstep. We even have access to the training ranges at Tamnlin Military Base until the Embassy building is finished. Then we will be using our own facilities there."

"Let's have our staff meeting tomorrow at noon. Its been a long day for everyone, including me. My appointment with the Premier is two days from now and I need first hand impressions about the people from you and your men. Since you and the advance staff have been here for almost thirty days, you will have formed opinions about the Numerians you work with and the local attitudes. I also want to be briefed on local laws and etiquettes. No reason to step on anyones toes unnecessarily.

*****

Moralton stretched out in the studies easy chair. The day had been long and tiring. Moralton had been in and out of meetings all day. He had even been in meetings to determine if more meetings were needed! This part of his job bit the big one. He had spent much of the day looking forward to tonights dinner. Gal d'Tauren had a way about him that spoke of a man who knew himself well. The Embassy Secretary, Theresa Jennings, had contacted him during lunch and told him that Gal was bringing a guest called a Naomi. She said it meant something similar to an apprentice or even a journeyman. The translation was impricise, she had said, as there are no exact direct translations for many of the Numerian words and concepts. It became even more vague when they began to try to figure out the religious terminology. In addition to several gods or saints, there was the dream and aspects of nature and balance as well. Then they threw in concepts of a warrior code to live by as well. Well, he would eventually figure it all out.

Inspite of everything, he felt that he was making progress. Tonight he had a whole list of questions to ask Gal. One of those was how Nali differed from the diplomatic immunity that he already had, and why it had only been extended to him. Then there was the other question. Why was the United States the only power with an embassy in Numerian space? Not one other power had an embassy here. Nor had the Commonwealth appeared to be trying to get anyone elses embassy. The other powers would want in, if only as a matter of face. It was most pecular. Yet another question to ask Gal. Moralton smiled then laughed. They might not have time to eat with all the questions he had bouncing around in his head.

*****

Gal had arrived dressed up like what Moralton guessed was the hieght of Numerian fashion. He had had on a light brown outfit with what looked like a tweed jacket and a tan silk cravat at his throat. But what had really stood out was a two inch gold pheonix pin that had its wings spread out in flight. His aid had come dressed in a one piece light grey jumpsuit with a leather jacket large enough to be a duster. It reminded him of some of the cowboy movies he had watched as a kid. The only concession she had evidently done was to put on makeup and to pin her hair up with silver combs. The end result was oddly fetching.
Moralton had greeted Gal at the double doors and led him straight to the large dining room. He had invited most of his staff and his marine officers as well. There were still several seats open to his amazement so he had pulled in several of the marine enlisted. He hoped they had had enough time to make themselves presentable. He had only been able to give them an hours notice. Moralton had deliberately placed Spurius near to his guests. He was going to use Spurius in his role as an intelligence gatherer. His telepathy could pick up stray thoughts from even highly disiciplined minds.
Moralton had used the dining room all day for his meetings. While the conference rooms could comfortably fit ten or so, it didn't help when he had a constant stream of staffers moving in and and twenty or so more taking notes and giving preliminary reports. The last meeting had ended a hour ago and the house staff had magically cleaned up the room and set the table in the twenty minutes he had spent showering and shaving. Inspite of all this time spent there, he had not really looked at the room.
As Moralton led them into the the dining room, he was struck hard by how the combination of uniforms, stained hardwoods, and glittering crystal reminded him of Imperial England from the history documentaries. He almost laughed. Yes, the Numerians did not realy fit in, but they carried themselves with dignity and aplomb. Though now that he thought about it, Gal carried himself in a way that said he was relaxed. The same could not be said of his aide. She was not comfortable at all. She was quiet, confident and watching everybody, but disappeared behind Gals exuberant charismatic personality.
"I hope that you enjoy American cuisine, Gal. I asked the cooks to make lasagna." Moralton brought them over to the only two chairs that were not occupied. The aide pulled Gal's chair out and settled him in before taking her own seat.
Servers began to fill plates and refill drinks as Gal and Moralton exchanged small talk. "So Gal, what is your Naomi's name?"
"Her name is Ysara Nedain of the clan Eiden and is my watcher as well as confident." Gal smiles a toothy smile. "There were more then a few people upset when I snatched her from the Tamlin War College." His grin grew to stupendous proportions. "Naedor Laosain Feutuonei d'Somerset was truly pissed. He wanted her to go to our Space Warefare College for battlefleet training. " By the time he finished speaking he was the sole focus of a woman with a highly embarassed and pissed off glower that said it all.
She spoke and the soft feminine tones did not hide the edge in her voice at all. "Are you done?"
"Why yes, I do believe that I am. Well, almost done anyway. You see, Ambassador, she is to be the Liason with you while you are here. She will be your interpreter, your cultural guide, and your first line of defense against putting your foot in your mouth. You already have top notch defenders who will protect you from the physical, but they do not have the diplomatic panage to aid you here. I have studied your culture for twenty years and my grasp of it is ... none too firm. I am too old to grasp new concepts and too immersed in my own past to really grasp you Americans. And yet my grasp far exceeds your own, even with what our Embassy provided you. She has also been studying you for a long time, but she understands those Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair movies that, franky, mystify me. Though I find I like their dancing." He looked lost for a moment then focused again. "Not all of us are happy that you are here. Use her skills well so you do not, what was that phrase" His head turned and looked at Ysara questionly. She looked back with horror. "Oh yes, don't accidently piss in their post toasties?" Gal's grinning face said it all.
Moralton had no idea about what to say in response or even if what Gal had said really required a response. On the the hand there were definitely deeper murky waters here then they had suspected at State and he knew that Gal was warning him of something. The pointed questions would require much more privacy then he had in front thirty people. So he changed the subject.
"I noticed that the dipomacy agreement does grant me diplomatic immunity. How is that different from Nali? Our cultural attache thinks it like offering someone protection from their enemies. I think its a little deeper then that?"
Gal's grin faded quickly as he reassesed this massive man that sat next to him. His hand rubbed at his chin as he bought himself time to get his thoughts in order. "That is not so easy to explain. It will require that some history be told and there are many who are uncomfortable thinking about our past. Nali was developed as a way of guarantying an ambassadors life in," he paused for a moment, " uncertain times." Gal leaned back into his chair as he began to describe the events of more then 500 years ago. His mellow voice rose and dropped to give emphasis on actions that preticipated a war so ugly that it lasted twenty some years, ended up wiping out an estimated 40 million people, and had been fought with swords and flintlock rifles.

The Saruchi Kingdom had gone mad and no one had known until it was too late. It was later found out that genicide had been quietly practiced inside that kingdom for years until the very character of its citizenship had changed to the point that the lives of others simply did not matter. Worse they had exchanged diplomats with the neighboring kingdoms, gave garauntees, and then killed the othr kingdoms diplomats as Saruchi troops invaded their neighbors. The giving of hospitality, such as hd been given to the diplomats, had already obligated the giver to protect the one granted hospitality. Life was seen as prescious even then and was not to be taken lightly. "
Gal took a sip of his wine and continued. His voice carrying easily over thre now quiet room. "The Saruchi held to no agreement made, even when it was to their short term advantage to do so. Even now to Saruchei is to commit evil. It is during these dark times that many of our societal precepts were made. An oath is binding, unless the oath leads to evil. A Nali is a person that you have given hospitality to. But it has other connotations as well. We are bound by duty, honor, and religous obligations to keep you alive, even at the sacrifice of our own. No matter who that may be. It is not just a pretty word. It has become one of the pillars of our faith. The deliberate breaking of Nali has resulted in whole clans being cleansed and several being exterminated. There will be no repeat of the Saruchi. Ever." His voice had ended on firm quiet note that made him scarily believable. The expression on Ysara's face matched Gal face perfectly, which added even more emphasis to what Gal had said.


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