Councilor Gotaak looked down at the headlines once more and frowned before putting down his PADD.
“Lukari Captain Solves Mysteries, Saves Ancestral Races”
“Lukari Protomatter Protects Galaxy”
“Kentari Discovered; Lukari Fixes Pollution”
He shook his head. The media were eating up the exploits of Captain Kuumaarke. They absolutely adored her and were doing all they could to make the rest of the planet love her too. Gotaak wasn’t the only one who had taken notice of this. The various councils were all trying to gain influence over the young captain. Only last week, the Economic Council had tried to coerce an endorsement from her to reduce military spending. Of course, reduced military spending would also mean fewer space-faring vessels, and Kuumaarke was entirely against that.
The Planetary Councilor picked up a second PADD and brought up the captain’s report. Not only did she rediscover Kentar, the planet of their origins, devastated from centuries of abuse - but she also found New Kentar, the homeworld of their long-lost kinsmen. To think that, after all these years in exile, a bridge could be built between the two societies. Perhaps they could all be one again.
Considering the Kentari record of planet-wide environmental abuse, it came as no surprise that the Science Council was strictly against any sort of Lukari-Kentari merger – especially the Environmental Division. One more fire to put out, thought Gotaak.
The door chimed.
“Come in,” Gotaak looked up from his PADD as his aide, Nedil, entered with an inquisitive look upon his youthful face.
“You asked to see me, Councilor?” Nedil was sorting various budget files when the call came for him. The life of a Planetary Council Aide wasn’t the most exciting per se, but it was illuminating. He never knew how expensive running a country could be, let alone an entire planet.
“Yes,” Gotaak tapped his PADD, replacing the report with an attached message, offering it to his young assistant. “It would appear that our young hero has added diplomat to her résumé.” Nedil took the PADD and started reading, his eyes going wide.
“S-Sir!” Nedil stammered, flabbergasted. “Are we seriously considering opening regular diplomatic relations with the Kentari? The very people responsible for the Great Exodus?!”
The councilor shrugged. “It would appear so. Kuumaarke’s suggestion is gaining considerable support in some very influential circles. Many feel that membership in the Federation may hinge upon such… diplomatic efforts,” He continued before his aide could respond. “Obviously there will be opposition, but if a working arrangement can be found, I’m sure a majority of the councils will go along.”
“That… that’s incredible, sir. I mean… wouldn’t such an open embrace of the Kentari be political suicide for most of the council members? The polls are showing –“
“If this effort were to succeed,” Gotaak smiled thinly. “Those in support of the measure would be known as the generation that repaired the greatest cultural divide in our history. We’d be the peace bringers who reconciled the schism that led to the Great Exodus. Political suicide? I should think ‘political immortality’ would be a more fitting term.”
“I… I shall bow to your superior wisdom on the matter, sir. That being said, what can I do to help?”
“As of now, I am taking you off of all of your other tasks. I want you to assist me in drawing up a new proposal I’ve been working on - something that could have a great impact on both Lukari and Kentari.”
“This project involves a logistical focus on a planetary scale. Your experience in managing such logistics is noteworthy. Frankly, there is no one else I’d trust to check the numbers on a project like this.”
“You honor me, sir! I… I accept, of course!”
“Don’t get too excited. It’s still early days, and the political landscape could shift to a point where the project becomes untenable. We’ll need to build multiple levels of contingencies. That said… do you think you’re up to the task?”
“For political immortality, I believe I shall rise to the challenge, sir. You can count on me,” The young aide beamed as the councilor handed him a PADD with details on the project.
Prime Minister Tuulemaan looked out the window of her office at the familiar haze. She had thought that her actions would help tear down the Traditionalist opinion. She was wrong. Buildings were plastered with posters –
“NO CONFIDENCE: Remove the Prime Minister!”
“Keep New Kentar for Kentari only!”
“Free Pentaaro! Free New Kentar!”
Her attempt to save the planet turned some of the planet against her, but she was willing to shoulder that burden if it meant her people would survive longer. Regardless, it was an uphill battle, and she was going to need another major victory if any of these policies were going to stick. Food production had resumed on the moon, but the fact remained that it wouldn’t be possible without Lukari help. Never mind the horrific attack by the Tzenkethi, or the treachery of Pentaaro and the Traditionalists in the military – in the court of public opinion, the government of New Kentar had to rely on aliens to save the day.
Meeting the Lukari and their allies was an important first step, and she knew that without the Lukari technology, New Kentar was doomed. The challenge was helping the people come to the same realization.
“Madame Prime Minister, we just received a message from the Lukari Planetary Council,” Waantel, one of her deputies, handed her a transcript of the latest missive from Lukari Prime. “The diplomatic proposal has passed, and they are ready to move forward. They’re prepared to establish an embassy at our convenience, and have extended the same courtesy to us.”
The Prime Minister looked at her well-armored associate. After losing two of her staff to “freedom fighters,” many members of her staff were now prepared for combat at all times. At least no one wanted to risk making a martyr out of her yet.
“Excellent news,” She allowed herself a tired smile. “Phase one is to commence immediately. I’d like a final list of potential embassy sites by week’s end, along with construction budgets and security details. Alert the media as well. I’d like to get our spin on this before the Trads. Emphasize the diplomatic and economic potential of the effort, especially all of the new jobs involved in constructing the embassy.”
“Yes, Madame Prime Minister.” Waantel bowed and turned to leave. He paused briefly before looking back at his boss, grimly. “Hopefully the news of new jobs will alleviate some of the hostility out there. The latest protests are starting to get ugly. In fact, you’ll need to leave via the secure exit today.”
“Understood. Thank you, Waantel, that will be all for now.”
The younger man nodded his head and exited the office, closing the door behind him.
Tuulemaan shook her head and frowned. A lot of work ahead, indeed.
Ryon “Melange” Levitt
Staff Content Designer