On final approach to Bortal
Kingdom of Ibiza
Chief Minister Rheinbach had come to enjoy these little trips out to Ibizan space. Not that home wasn’t welcoming. Far from it, but it was becoming harder and harder to maneuver. This little war had dragged on far too long, and the worst part of it was that public opinion had cemented itself in place rather firmly on the side of Total Victory. Exactly HOW that victory would come about was still a bit up in the air, but the body politic never did consider the finer points of any policy.
He watched as his shuttle circled down towards the landing complex adjacent to the royal compound. No, there was a freedom of maneuver here. The back and forth of the deal. That ambiguity and lack of perfect information that made Fenren like him feel right at home. ‘And’, he thought to himself, ‘the war does offer one positive benefit.’ This was the big table. Crisis and danger made for bigger risks, but also for bigger payoffs. The shuttle settled down perfectly onto the pad, engines spooling down. Enough working around the edges. Time to put the chips down and get to work.
King Armand’s Private Salon
Royal Compound, Bortal
A private meeting cut the ceremony to a minimum, and it was a bare fifteen minutes between touchdown and the start of the frank, earnest conversation where real decisions were made. After the usual pleasantries around meeting and feeling around the issues, Chief Minister Rheinbach laid out the reason for his visit.
“I’m concerned about possible… independence in our navy.”
“Oh?” The king leaned back some. It was rare that Rheinbach would admit to anything of the sort, and King Armand’s own posture of apathy was both unconvincing and entirely false.
“Surely you must see the problem. Day by day the navy is slowly intertwining itself into your country. Procurement contracts, cross training exercises, joint development projects. The navy’s even getting close to having its own R&D branch. This war has been going on for too long. Their demands have been… unprecedented.”
“So you’re worried?” The king had a gift for understatement.
“Very. Despite setbacks the navy is still riding high. They remain… not a threat. But an independant powerbase in the armed forces is not something we look upon with care and love.”
“Possibly. Possibly not. There are many ways to exert power-” a prize leading statement if there was one “and the Navy is grasping too many of them in its hands. Perhaps not overt control, but certainly enough to nudge things one way or the other. And given how closely they have been working with the Sintillans…”
“But they’re citizens now.”
“Citizens we forced to join us. We’ve dealt with at least one potential independence movement. Rather, the navy has. Who’s to say they’re not supporting their own? Or they didn’t actually deal with that one?”
“And your solution is…”
“Your people are the virtual antithesis of ours in many ways. You would form a… counterweight to our more militaristic population segments. And your navy would of course dilute any potential power bases in the navy itself. Enough to allow more subtle means for a permanent solution.”
“Asking us to join is your way of quashing a possible civil war?” King Armand had taken the thought and ran with it down the field. A good man, but in this case it wasn’t so much of a thought as it was an idiot ball.
“Potentially, though that’s very much an edge case. If they were to have enough support, it would barely be a battle. Our corporate units are mostly local patrol and security forces. Against a proper fleet they wouldn’t stand a chance.” Rheinbach shifted the topic to another subject “But I digress. It wouldn’t be a one sided deal. Not by any definition. You gain access to a much larger economy, your military position versus the Narilei is locked in permanently, to say nothing of the more… subtle benefits.”
The king leaned back a bit, sipping his drink. He’d been given worse offers. And while he might become a fish in a bigger pond, it was a much, MUCH more comfortable pond. “We can’t just announce this out of the blue, you know.”
‘And that was how I bought a kingdom, kids.’ the Chief Minister thought to himself. “Oh, of course not. These things take time. News reports to curate, studies to run, public opinion to shape. It could take a few years…”
“We’re a very determined people, when we put our mind to it.”