So ends Chapter 26, with Jakken Jalhalla Servidos finally standing before the Juxtani Assembly, speaking to possibly the most powerful being (well, subservient being at least) in the universe (or Space), presenting at last his case – and humanity’s – to Juxtani Civilization. The first climax has arrived! Rejoice, for progress has been made! I’m going to try to finish another chapter later today, but I make no firm promises. And here is a relatively plot-insignificant sample (read at your own risk!):
A massive monitor above the panel that had somehow escaped my notice lit up, showing the image of the speaker. The word “Narrut” appeared below it, and its appearance was slightly shocking. The Narrut was a fierce-looking wolf-like being, with two heads and two arms that looked as if it could stand on two feet. Each head spoke with its own distinct voice, and at some times, as I listened to their speech, realized that they were actually two separate personalities. One of them sounds vaguely female, and the other male. This thought of two beings sharing a body fascinated me, but the speech soon concluded and applause somehow reached my ears and the image of the Narrut vanished, to be replaced by a S’vet – a pointy-eared pseudo-Ayudaric race with only one nostril and pale blue skin.
“Galakia is a nondenominational port, as the wise beings of the Congregation surely know.” The thing had an elegant voice. “The Narrut and Gettlan have repeatedly violated the terms that govern Galakia, slowly gathering more and more influence, seeking to conquer and divide the planet for itself!”
A red circle of light appeared in the upper right, and the image of the Narrut appeared adjacent to that of the S’vet. “The Narrut have made no such moves, honorable delegate Andru. I put before you that your people, the S’vet, have been the real aggressors in this situation.” The female personality was speaking, and despite her calm words, it looked like there was a terrible rage behind her eyes. The male head looked much more calm. “We all know that the way a civilization gains true power is not by conquering more planets – planets are self-sufficient, and adding one to your empire does nothing. Adding a planet along an inter-civilization trade route, such as the Evoriim-Tanikaz Passage, does add power – controlling the local space around such important locales as Galakia, the central planet on the aforementioned trade route, allows unscrupulous owners to impose tolls and make themselves known, peddling their own goods and controlling prices.
“This practice may be acceptable in some less important locations, but Galakia is of central importance to Juxtani Space, being the central stop on longest route of easily traversable space in all of Juxtani Civilization. How many civilizations depend on this route, which winds its way all the way from Evoriim in the Elfviyat Empire and High Civilization to Tanikaz of the Ratalians in Low Civilization, running through Middle Civilization and areas of the Centrid as it goes? The astral winds blow many a vessel at incredible speeds through Dassev, Sharrack, Verenia, Tallas, Shorzal, Forgrad – need I go on? I am sure that we can all agree how central Galikia is, being not only the largest primary port on that, but also at the crossroads of four other trade routes, three of which are also astral wind highways. The Narrut already control large swathes of two of them, and the Gettlan the other two – what motive would we have to take Galikia as our own? Even we can acknowledge the need for competition!”
“You would have the most to gain – splitting Galikia between you two would be the first step towards domination of more networks?”
The red light appeared again, and a third figure shared the screen, appearing on the opposite side of the S’vet. “We would have the least to gain, honorable Andru. If we are allied and unified on this issue, as we clearly are, us splitting Galikia would accomplish little, as we would have to turn on the other to obtain any more power by taking the other’s trade-routes – and neither of us are foolish enough to attempt to control the Evoriim-Tanikaz astral highway. That is the realm of the Elfviyat.”
Fascinating as this argument was, I could not find any place to reasonable insert myself. I continued listening carefully, both for an opening and to try to find out how these meetings worked. Judging by the lack of interruptions from any other parties other than the three directly involved in the debate, I surmised that they were not yet allowed to interrupt. It seemed as if, from my very limited amount of time spent listening, that there would be some form of debate, and then presumably a vote of some form would be called using the “Call Vote” button, and everyone else would vote “Yes” or “No.” It seemed simple.
I began to half-listen again as I continued looking over the buttons, and finally found the one I was looking for: “open.” I half-smiled to myself and pushed the button. To my surprise, its effect initially was to shut off the images before me and retract the monitor into a space behind the panel. Disappointed, I looked again for the button to bring it back, but before I found it, there was a gentle hiss, and the light blue curved surface of the pod in front of me slipped away, and I saw before me the real Great Chamber.
Here’s to hoping that the rough draft is finished soon!