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Who Is My Neighbor?

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Character
CHOMMELL SECTOR, CHOMMEL SYSTEM
"LIBERATION" (MINSTREL-CLASS SPACE YACHT)

Despite the fact that the Omega Protectorate and the Confederacy of Independent Systems were the definition of close neighbors in terms of proximity, there had been a very scarce number of interactions between the two. In fact, the Grand Marshal could count on his hands the number of times that the growing congregation of worlds under his leadership had dealings with its larger neighbor. The first time was, admittedly, a shaky interaction that had resulted in the standing agreement of neutrality between the nations. The second interaction occurred during the events on Polis Massa, in which the Confederacy and Omega Protectorate cooperated together. Of course, this cooperation was cut short by the appearance of a madness-inducing object, but in the end the day concluded with the clone having an unspoken respect for the nation. They were strong, of this there was no doubt, and in recent weeks, the opportunity presented itself for a meeting between the neighboring states.

In the months preceeding this day in particular, Genesis Rostu could simply flip through the news stations and occassionally come across transmissions from Protectorate space. These were always characterized by the fiery-haired, Lady Protector @[member="Cira"] with a recap of local events. However, as time moved on, the clone noticed an absense of the woman altogether and in her place a unified, public presence undertaken by a similarly-fiery haired woman by the name of @[member="Tegaea Alcori"] and a man he recognized as Exarch @[member="Ayden Cater"]. The title that Genesis knew the man by, as per the events on Polis Massa, soon proved to be obselete; for Ayden Cater had been elevated to the position of Lord Protector. The change was one that surprised the Grand Marshal, but having interacted with three emperors and two chancellors in his time as leader of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, it did not come as a great shock.

With this transition in leadership, the Vong-shaped clone set into motion a voyage that would hopefully result in better relations between the two nations. This was simply due to the fact that the leadership of the Omega Protectorate and the Confederacy of Independent Systems had yet to sit down and meet face-to-face...now was the time to change that! As such, a small congregation of ships surged forth from the depths of hyperspace and began projecting a message to the nearby planet of Naboo. The Grand Marshal was not so bold as to arrive unannounced in another man's backyard, as that would be call for alarm; and as such he opted to tarry by the border and await permission to enter Protectorate space. The world he had selected for this possible meeting was Naboo, as it was one of the closer worlds to the Confederacy's border.

The cadre of Confederate vessels, consisting of a simple Diplomatic Yacht, transmitting civilian codes, and the local patrol consisting of a pair of corvettes then awaited a response from the Omega Protectorate. For those receiving the message, namely the Lord Protector, an azure, holographic projection would come into view bearing the visage of the Grand Marshal. It would render a polite nod of greetings before addressing those hearing in his typical, deep tone of voice. "Greetings, my name is Genesis Rostu. I am the Grand Marshal of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. For too long, our nations have been neighbors, yet we have had scarce interactions for quite some time now. This is a fact that I would like to see changed today, and as such I humbly request a meeting with the Lord Protector. We are currently located at these coordinates, and the nearest world within Protectorate space from our position is that of Naboo. If you are willing, let us meet there and come to a greater understanding as neighbors in this great Galaxy of ours."

With that, the transmission would come to an end.
 

Ayden Cater

Grumpy Goat
Writer
CHOMMELL SECTOR, NABOO SYSTEM
THEED PALACE, NABOO

"If you are willing, let us meet there and come to a greater understanding as neighbors in this great Galaxy of ours." The message ended the same as it had the last two dozen times Ayden played it. Recent events had painted a rather negative picture for the Confederacy, and Ayden questioned why they chose now to try and arrange a meeting. Cira had been missing for more than six weeks. Tegaea and himself had done what they could to hold the Protectorate together until they could come to an arrangement for the next Protector. Why had they not tried to arrange a meeting then? Why now? Still, as he played the message over once more, staring at the glowing hologram as it began speaking, at least they had the presence of mind and courtesy to announce themselves and fly into Protectorate space in a diplomatic entourage, as opposed to a massive battleship.

He waited within the palace in Theed for the Confederacy to arrive. The Queen sat beside him, gracious and poised. It had been at her insistence that the diplomats be welcomed into the palace. Ayden had relented, even when the Queen announced that only a pair of her handmaidens would provide armed protection. His lips quirked in a smile. It was little wonder how Naboo managed to escape the worst of the plague. They had such a strong history with the monarchy, and their queens were all so level-headed and steadfast. It was announced by a Gungan member of the Naboo Security Force that the Confederate entourage had arrived and were en route to the palace.

"Have you considered for a moment that this might be a trap?" Ayden turned and quirked an eyebrow as the queen looked directly at him with a mask of tranquil calm even as she asked again, "Have you considered that they might make an attempt on your life?" The Corellian chuckled and let his hand briefly rest on her arm reassuringly. "Your Highness, such thoughts are frequently on all our minds. What use is living if you're forever afraid of death?" She seemed pleased with his answer before he continued. "Besides, I did not give up years of training when I assumed the mantle of Lord Protector. We'll be fine." As she cast him a knowing smirk, the large doors to the throne room opened. Ayden stood beside the Queen as he watched the leader of the Confederacy enter.

"Welcome, Grand Marshal @[member="Genesis Rostu"]. On behalf of Her Royal Highness, Queen Lanthala of Naboo, I welcome you and your entourage." The doors to the throne room closed, leaving the two parties in solace. "Come. Sit and drink and tell us of the Confederacy." Ayden smiled and gestured to the silver pitchers of wine that sat on the table between them. "What brings you to us in these quiet times?" Despite his professed paranoia and questioning their motives, Ayden was the perfect image of one sovereign leader meeting with another. "I assume, of course, that you are aware of the disappearance of the Lady Protector, Cira. Indeed it seems that the Confederacy is the only power in the galaxy that has not changed leaders within the last year; a testament to your rule, I'm sure." He poured for himself a glass of wine and tipped the goblet to his lips, letting himself a brief moment to gauge the Grand Marshal's demeanor for himself in person.
 
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Character
Having went through the proper channels, clearance into Protectorate space did not take an excessive sum of time. Shortly after the transmission was sent, the diplomatic cadre of Confederate vessels was escorted across the border and to the beautiful world of Naboo. Once within orbit of the world, the Grand Marshal, flanked by a handful Yuuzhan Vong guards, stepped upon a shuttle and set out for the world below. There was a noticeable...tenseness in the air as the Confederate procession made their way to the palace of Theed. No doubt, there was a mighty sum of suspicion of the clone's motives and curiosity as to why he had elected to come with such a miniscule sum of protection. In a sense, Genesis was completely vulnerable at that moment; but that was the intention all along.

After all, the age-old saying was that one's first impression was his last; and as such the Grand Marshal wanted his desire for peace to be heard as true. To this end, he wanted his impression to be one that was not typically expected of the leader of a growing nation. He wanted his visit to be perceived as entirely friendly, and that he had trust in the Protectorate enough to lodge a blaster bolt between his eyes. When finally escorted into the room that had been prepared for his arrival, the armored man first greeted the pair who stood before him with a smile and a respectful inclination of his head. "Your Majesty," he began, "I humbly thank you for graciously hosting this meeting within your lovely palace." Then, to the man he had spoken with only once before on the field of battle he added, "And on behalf of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, I give you my thanks as well Lord Protector Cater. I hope that you have been well since last we spoke."

First, Genesis rendered a slight nod to his guardsmen. Only two of the handful remained by his side, standing at rest behind the seat he came to occupy. The rest joined the guardsmen stationed at the door. Nothing out of the ordinary, of course. Before answering the question posed by the Lord Protector, Genesis poured himself a glass of wine and then turned his attention back upon the sovereign of the Protectorate and the Queen of Naboo. "Ah, where to begin..." he said, bringing the glass to his lips and indulging in a sip. "The Confederacy is doing quite well. With each passing day, the battle to liberate the South from the atrocities of slavery is drawing nearer and nearer to being won. What's more, we have finally begun the full implementation of our Sanctuary program, and thereby are allowing new opportunities for refugees across the stars to begin anew. I consider it a blessing that I have been able to serve the people of the Confederacy as Grand Marshal and lead them into their current state."

"To say the least, we are doing splendid as of late. Now, as to what brings me here...Well, as you have just said, I am aware that the Lady Protector is no longer present. The news has told me that much, and that you had ascended to the mantle of Lord Protector. To be quite candid, I came today in order to make a request of you. We have both been blessed with this period of quiet peace, and I would like to utilize this time in order to propose the formation of a relationship. At present, we have standing neutrality; but today I would like to request something more...I would like for us to transition from our current state as neighbors into that of good neighbors. I seek for our nations to fully understand one another, to collaborate with one another, and to mutually grow in peace and harmony."

"Of course, such a desire does not make itself a reality over a single interaction and I fully realize that this aspiration requires two key components; Time and Trust. As such, I would like to utilize this opportunity to propose my desires to you and to see if we cannot make them a reality. So, what say you Lord Protector Cater? Would you be open to that which I have laid before you?"

@[member="Ayden Cater"].
 

Ayden Cater

Grumpy Goat
Writer
@[member="Genesis Rostu"]

"Peace, you say?" Ayden tilted his head to one side and nodded while handing the queen her own goblet. "Of course peace is preferable. After all, these are trying times. It seems many of the galactic powers are at each others throats, either openly or in secret." A pained smile flashed across his face as he continued. "It's a sad day when overtures of peace hide the dark secrets we try to hide in the closet, wouldn't you say Grand Marshal?" Ayden looked at him with mirthless smile and produced from his jacket a datapad and dropped it on the table with a surprisingly loud crack. "It'd certainly be a sad day if someone had plotted with other foreign powers to rob the Protectorate of its sovereignty. After all, what kind of person would extend an overture of peace to a nation while having plans on how best to divide its territory amongst others?"

By now, Ayden was staring at the Grand Marshal with a decidedly displeased look. "I know that the Grand Marshal of the Confederacy of Independent Systems has never, in its history of sovereignty, consorted with the Sith Empire and provided it arms and munitions. I know that the Confederacy would never allow such a ruthless, evil power to build ships of war within its borders." He began to pace now, his hands gripped behind his waist. "I also know that the Confederacy would never allow war criminals to walk amongst its holy Templar Order. That would certainly sully their reputation and credibility." The queen wore a thin smile whilst Ayden continued to march around his end of the table. "I -know- that you, Genesis Rostu, are a man of character and honesty. So tell me, please, WHAT THE KARK THE AXIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE?!" Ayden's temper flared dangerously as he pointed to the datapad that rocketed across the table and stopped all-too-quickly in front of the Confederate leader.
 
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Character
At long last, the time came to address the elephant in the room. While the Grand Marshal had not expected the Lord Protector to know of the dying congregation that was known as Axis, it was one of the many things on the plate to discuss. Nonetheless, Genesis kept composure as the line of questioning, dripping with growing frustration, went on and simply collected the datapad into his hand once the Lord Protector had concluded. He took a moment to browse the contents...and found his grip tightening on the device out of sheer frustration. This "treaty", this divvying up of Protectorate territory...it was a farse. Nothing of the sort had occurred during the single meeting that Axis held. This, coupled with the knowledge of the Fringe Confederation's exodus from their midst had left the clone with the knowledge of a single fact: The Fringe was behind these falsehoods.

"To begin, these claims that you are making," said the clone, meeting the wrathful gaze of the Lord Protector, "regarding the providing the Empire with arms, munitions, or ships of war within our borders is news to me. It is unsettling that such information would present itself to you in whatever means it arrived. The Confederacy of Independent Systems has never produced weapons, munitions, vessels, or anything in-between for the Sith Empire. Furthermore, there are no war criminals walking about in our Templar Order either. Upon joining the Order, nay, joining the Confederacy itself, the more unsavory members of society are given a hearing through which the decision is made if they can even take up residence in our border. A war criminal would never have been cleared for entrance through their amnesty hearing and would have been turned over to the nation their actions have wronged."

"Now then, on the matter of Axis...I humbly advise that you take a drink Lord Protector, because this is no easy explanation. However, I will begin by stating that the information contained in that datapad is leagues from being the truth. This treaty that you were provided? It never came into existence...and even includes the Atrisian Empire, of all people, as a member? But before I can even begin to explain all that is wrong with this information, I'd like to establish with you an understanding. Many things have transpired over the course of the Confederacy's existence, things that have led to the creation and our involvement with this entity."

"Being brief, when the Confederacy was first born and consisted only of three member worlds, a vote was taken as to which direction we were to go in. In those days, the Galactic Republic and Omega Pyre had an alliance that was well known, respected, and feared across the stars. Our goal, back then, was to establish neutrality with all the larger nations in the Galaxy; and thereby secure our survival. Allying with one over the other could have dragged us into the ongoing hostilities between the Republic and Empire, and whilst we strongly disagree with all that the latter stands for, we could not afford to be involved in our infantile state. As such, we welcomed ambassadors from across the Galaxy and established the various agreements of neutrality that exist to this day."

"That changed with the events which transpired on Geonosis. As a brief recap, one of the numerous Queens which had appeared had taken to the massacring of her own caste in order to bolster her armies. The intent was a full-scale war against the Galaxy, and we intervened. The end result was successful. The Queen was eliminated...but in shooting down her vessel, approximately sixty innocent lives were lost. Twenty of which were represented by one Admiral Sharde when we offered reparations to the families effected. Now, as you may or may not be aware, Admiral Sharde was the founder of the Fringe Confederation...and went by a name that you might know better: Sith Empress Ashin Varanin."

"She waltzed into my office, masquerading as a simple mediator, then leapt into my skull and screeched her accomplishments at me. Conqueror of thousands of worlds and all that...From that point, 'Admiral Sharde' took an active role in aligning the smaller nations of the Galaxy. Whilst, on the surface, the goal was nothing more that banding us all together in the name of survival, the true goal was providing the Fringe Confederation with the means of aggressively expanding; with the assistance of newfound friends. Enter the Treaty of Ithor, which aligned our nations as neutral with the promise of mutual defense against our enemies."

"However, shortly after the signing of this treaty, Sharde paid another visit to Bothawui and felt the need to share with me the true purpose of Ithor. She leapt into my mind once more and showed me her intentions...Axis was the brainchild of the Sith Empress, with the purpose of it being to provide the means for the Fringe Confederation to expand into the Unknown Regions and into Protectorate space. Through this conversation, the Confederacy was given a choice. Either we play along and act as the public face of Axis, or the Empress calls up her old friends in the Empire and, utilizing the Black Sun Syndicate as a jumping off point, brings an unparalleled invasion upon our heads. Couple that with the additional threat of skirmishes poised to claim untold millions of civilian lives and you've got the predicament I was faced with."

"In those days, the Confederacy did not have a multitude of options. The Republic was acting pacifist, relations with the Protectorate were slim to none, and the remainder of the Galaxy's sovereign nations would not amount to enough force to repel both the Sith Empire and its younger sibling, the Fringe Confederation. As such, I did what I had to do in order to preserve the lives of my people; I agreed to be the public face of a militant alliance that would align the Confederacy, the Empire, the Fringe, and the Black Suns. However, allow me to make a single point perfectly clear Lord Protector...It was not the Confederacy who targeted the Protectorate. And furthermore, it was not the Confederacy who called for complete and total war against the Protectorate."

"This treaty that you were provided? This falsified evidence? It speaks nothing of the truth." said the Grand Marshal, rising from his seat. He slid the datapad back across the table and motioned to one of his guards to provide him with a datapad of his own. A few keystrokes upon the screen granted him access to a recording: the first, and only, meeting of Axis on Dressel. He then fast-forwarded past the pleasantries and played the recording right at the meat of the sandwich. First appeared the visage of Sargon Vynea, who said to all present: "I don't suppose the Omega Protectorate would simply surrender? No, I suppose they won't but, it was a hope. We agree this is total war? We agree though here, and now civilians shall be treated with mercy." This was immediately followed by his second, Jared Ovmar, filling the space with laughter fit for a Sith and stating: "Gentlemen, I think we are in agreement here. The Fringean Military will of course support this beautiful endeavour."

Genesis paused the recording there and set the datapad on the table before him, then exhaled solemnly.

"The point of all of this is, Lord Protector...The Confederacy did not have many options in those days. We were young, small, and did not have the ties required to put up a fight against the Sith Empire and its sibling, the Fringe Confederation. I did the best I could given the situation...but now the Confederacy has might enough to stand and fight. As such, I first apologize to you for the dealings in the shadows; dealings that sickened me to the core. I know mere words will never be enough to rectify that which has transpired, but I must say them regardless. Furthermore, I wish to express to you a fact: The Confederacy is not your enemy...and the entity known as Axis is dead. The Confederacy has taken its leave of the organization, and in its wake I see that you were provided this falsified treaty. What I do know is that, after the CIS abandoned the group, the Fringe did as well; and now I prepare for the worst. I am not here asking for assistance in any 'retribution' that may come from the Fringe or Empire in retaliation, for I am confident that the Confederacy is strong enough to face and defend our land from our enemies now more than ever."

"I am here for the sake of peace and understanding. All my cards are laid on the table, Lord Protector. The CIS is not your enemy, and I desire nothing more than to see peace, and the quelling of these terrible rumors, start between us this day. Now, what say you?"

@[member="Ayden Cater"].
 

Ayden Cater

Grumpy Goat
Writer
@[member="Genesis Rostu"]

Ayden chuckled darkly and shook his head in disbelief. "Gods take me and burn me to ashes, if the Atrisians come to me next and claim this same Sithspit excuse of being too small to defend themselves, I'm going to put someone's head on a pike." The queen lifted an eyebrow in surprise as Ayden wheeled on the Grand Marshal, his fury blasting with every word. "You are a gods damned fool and a coward, Rostu! Were you so cowed by the fear of pirates and smugglers that you could not make a stand!? The South Systems Syndicate, the Galactic Trade Guild, the Hutt Cartel, the Black Suns; Does this sound like a towering beast of a nation to fear? Because it sounds to be like you're afraid of a bunch of Dug-kissing, Hutt-karking, ass-backward thieves that can't keep themselves in line for more than a few months!? Do you really think the Republic or Protectorate would have stood by while the Sith tried to continue their expansion south?"

"Better to die defending others and your own integrity than to sign your souls to the Sith!" Ayden ripped back the datapad from across the room and held it with such a grip that the duraplast creaked ominously. Activating a holo-projector, Ayden started to cycle through several images of ship design. "The corporate entity known as Subach-Innes has been well documented as producing warships for
not only the Sith, but the Fringe as well. You claim to have no knowledge of Sith warships being built in Confederate space? What about Fringe ships? You're either lying, Genesis Rostu, or a gods-damned fool." Despite the harshness of his words, it was clear that Ayden's anger was subsiding somewhat, though it was unclear if it was from the Confederate leader's words or his own self-control. "You cannot stand there and tell me that you had no idea these ships were being made in the same orbit as your own Confederate shipyards. Druckenwell is a large planet, Grand Marshal, but it's not that large."

He resumed his pacing back and forth, looking much like a Corellian sand panther would right before it attacked. "You had no problem throwing your lot in with the Sith and others you profess to be no better than them, yet I can't help but notice you seemed incapable of making that same leap of faith with the Republic or Protectorate. After all, nothing said that the Sith would not invade the Confederacy anyways. Or the Fringe. You trusted wolves to not be wolves. And now I'm supposed to trust a man who, by his own admission, succumbed to empty pressure when no obvious, legitimate threat existed? The only reason I believe even half the things you've said are because I've heard the same words from the Fringe leadership. So now that wolves are eating wolves, you want to turn around pretend that none of it happened? It's going to take more than honeyed words and empty promises, Rostu, for me to believe the Confederacy isn't out for something."
 
A P E X
Character
Genesis could not believe his ears, nor what his eyes were seeing. Subach-Innes was a company that had come into Confederacy possession by means of the mistakes of one Jak Sandrow and the death of one Circe Savan. From that point, Genesis had saw fit to install a member of the Subach family, Myra Subach, as CEO over the company; at that was a fruitful endeavor. Yet, never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that his good faith would be turned against him and that the company would begin producing ships for the Empire and Fringe Confederation underneath his nose. With an edge of fury to his voice, the towering Vong-shaped man sat up from his chair, so swiftly that the seat knocked over and he marched over to the Lord Protector. He then folded his arms and set his attention on the images playing from the datapad. There was no harmful intent towards the Lord Protector, but he wanted to get a closer look for himself.

"Call me what you will, call us what you will, but I did what I absolutely had to for the survival of the Confederacy. Yes, I was a fool, a blasted karking fool at that. I expected wolves to stay their fangs and claws, for we were but sheep then. Now we are Lions, and our claws are just as sharp as theirs." he said, taking a breath. "Now, on the matter of Subach-Innes, I truly had no knowledge of these operations...And as such, there is only one viable solution. Subach-Innes must be destroyed. You wish to see a leap of faith? You wish for me to prove the Confederacy worthy of trust and that we are not out for anything? Then I'll give you this offer, Lord Protector. Come and destroy Subach-Innes with me. Put an end to this nefarious company's production of vessels for the Empire and the Fringe Confederation, and take this as proof of the truth of my words. What say you?"

@[member="Ayden Cater"].
 
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