THE XIAOLANG PALACE
The City of Xam'Chi
"...and that concludes the statement prepared by the people of Quan'Lo."
The Parliament was in session. Shoma was seated at what might have seemed a judge's bench, elevated above the other members of the Diet. The arrangement was not his choosing, but culture demanded that none sit higher than the emperor. Even though the Atrisian youth claimed no such title, it seemed that some habits were hard to break.
Bowing toward the representative of Quan'Lo, the young prince of Atrisia leaned forward to address the assembled governors and representatives. "The people of Atrisia thank the honorable representative of Quan'Lo for sharing these words with us."
It was a rote statement. Almost scripted. The words expected.
That's what Shoma had found rule to be. Acting. He need only look the part. Say the words he was expected to say.
The planet continued orbiting and rotating no matter what he did. Governance was much the same. Continuing with the political theater, the prince leaned forward as he said, "The people of Atrisia now recognize the honorable representative of the..."
The doors to the Diet were thrown open, the ancient wood creaking loudly as they swung on their hinges.
Shoma's eyes were raised in surprise at the interruption. Surprise, deepening to concern when he saw his security and defense ministers marching into the congressional chamber. Reaching over, the youth grabbed hold of a gavel and used it to strike a ceremonial gong that hung to one side by his seat.
The equivalent of a judge beating the gavel against the bench.
"We will take a short recess," the teen announced, even as he rose from his seat.
His chief of staff was speaking into his ear even before the youth had manage to stand up. "Coruscant is under attack."
The prince did a double take. An assault on Coruscant was a bold move. Not just due to sensitivities with the Alliance, but with the Coruscant First Movement as well. Shoma had been careful that Atrisia would tread softly when it came to Coruscant affairs.
If the planet was under attack from external forces, that was a different matter. "We must send aid," Shoma stated, as he was ushered out of the public chamber and into the private halls of the royal palace.
One of the generals, a decorated soldier who had served in the vanguard of the late Emperor [member="Akio Kahoshi"]'s Atrisia Royal Corps, stepped closer to the heir apparent. "My lord, the defense force have lost contact with Lothal and there are reports of hostilities at Fondor."
An admiral spoke next. "Lord, we believe the Alliance is facing an attack on many fronts."
Shoma paused his step. Turning to look at both men as he weighed their words. As he did, the general spoke up again. "If we send aid, to whom should we send it?" the man asked. "We have committed resources to rebuilding Alderaan and lack further resources with which to bolster Coruscant and Fondor."
"And Lothal lies far from our reach," the admiral remarked, adding, "We are not the galactic power that we once were."
The young prince lowered his head, chin tucked into the crook of his thumb and finger as he contemplated the situation.
The Alliance called for aid.
...so did the people of Atrisia.
If Shoma could not care for both, then his priorities were clear in this situation. "Activate the planetary shield," the prince ordered flatly, looking back up at the two men.
If Lothal, Fondor, and Coruscant were under attack, then all worlds of the Alliance were under threat. And Atrisia was close to the border with the First Order.
Shoma could not risk an attack with the shield down.
But no traffic could depart while the shield was raised.
No aid would be coming to the Alliance from Atrisia. Not this day.
"Whatever is happening to the worlds of the Alliance, we must trust that the Defense Forces will see to their needs," the teen remarked, looking at the general and admiral in turn. "We must be prepared to see to our own."
The two men bowed, then turned and left the teen with his chief of staff. After they were out of earshot, Shoma spoke, addressing Feng as he said, "Send a transmission to the Republic." That would hopefully reach [member="Adder Dawnracer"] or one of his staffers. "We have allies there."
Unfortunately, Atrisia was still in great need of allies.
Perhaps now more than ever.