Captain Chou looked at the report. Out of respect they had annonymized the transmissions in all the ambassadorial suites, but he did notice a significant spike of activity after Talia’s arrival. It wasn’t surprising, certainly each ambassador was furiously scrambling to write home and ask for instructions. Probably video and conference calls across the stars. That would be expensive on the power grid if it continued too long. He sighed, running a hand through his hair. He put out a quick message to the crew to minimize unnecessary power usage. He then followed with a quick ping to the three shift engineer leads to give them a code to let him know if they ever hit 70% usage. It was still well within safety range and would give them a chance to ration the power more carefully.
Rubbing his eyes, the captain set down the pad and leaned back in his chair. He felt he could fall asleep sitting up, but also knew that would give him a terrible crink in his neck. Slowly, he stood and rolled his head reflexively. Tomorrow was going to be a long day no matter how he considered it. He just hoped the existence of the Orgalla’s ambassador didn’t spark something dangerous back home. What would the news be spouting? Fortunately, only four reporters had been permitted – one for each racial delegate and a military reporter that was always assigned to the Sunburst. And their videos were NOT allowed to be sent directly to any news media – each race had been instant that all communication from the media crews should be first vetted by governments to maintain any state secrets which needed to be maintained. Talia was almost certainly a state secret in most if not all governments tonight.
Would it stay that way? Should it stay that way? The very thought passing through his mind made the Captain jolt slightly and run his fingers over his beard. He was clearly too tired to think straight anymore. He made himself go and lay down on his bed, trying to turn off his brain and let sleep come.
In the morning, when the Captain arrived in the conference room Yewoul was already there. The kikatal wore the general sashes tied to its furry form, designed to link together in intricate knots. The ceremonial garb was extravagent, and despite the human belief that kikatal preferred their “natural” look, the Captain had long ago learned that they had learned to prefer clothing and tended to go “natural” when they were concerned about a potential battle. Their hair could harden at will into sharp spikes, so it was actually a sign of trust and comfort to wear cloth.
“Good morning,” Captain Chou said.
“Captain,” the ambassador nodded its head. Chou was fairly certain Yeoul was female, but he wasn’t completely sure.
“Have you had anything to eat yet?” the captain asked politely.
“Yes, I consumed nutrition tablets in my cabin so I could remain focused today on this negotiation.” Yewoul replied. “I am wondering Captain, what are your thoughts on this Talia Lost?”
Captain Chou considered carefully and then said, “I honestly am not sure ambassador. We don’t know how the orgalla communicate, we don’t know where they found or made her…”
“So you agree it is possible she was constructed?”
“But then why human?” the captain retorted, “we aren’t even the most populous species, I know the dewallo outnumber humans at least 2 to 1. If she was constructed, why human?”
“So you believe they found her and stole her?”
“How? And why her of all humans?”
“You speak truly Captain,” the ambassador settled into its chair with a heavy human-like sigh. “We just don’t know. My government wants me to ask the humans to press this issue – could you as a representative of the military demand some kind of answer?”
“I have been given orders to remain as neutral as possible. It would have to come from Ambassador Westmire,” Captain Chou kept his voice neutral as he said it, but he saw that Yewoul understood – Paul Westmire was the worse choice for such a demand. He would bluster and make more of a mess than now. Ambassador Irvine was a better choice, but Captain Chou couldn’t say that outright.
Ambassadors Risyk of the dewallo and Irvine of non-earth Alliance arrived together, followed by the dewallo Deneph and the kikatal Etcorm. Talia Lost and her silent guardian arrived shortly afterwards. She looked around the room silently and hesitated. Captain Chou quickly approached and said, “Welcome Ambassador Lost. Is that how you wish to be addressed?”
“Princess Talia actually,” she replied. “My adopted mother is heir to the… throne is the closest human equivalent.”
There were exchanged glances and Captain Chou said, “Forgive me Princess Talia. Have you had breakfast? We have some refreshments over here and the seats for you and your companion are right here.”
Captain Chou showed her the assortment of breakfast finger-foods, coffee, and the seats for the orgalla ambassadorial team. She selected two morsels and moved to her chair. She still wore the military-style outfit and her hair in a braid. Paul Westmire arrived with the press, talking to the reports from the Sunburst and Earth alliance. When he saw everyone already there he made a production of getting coffee and talking to Talia Lost before he finally moved to his seat, ignoring the frowns from the other ambassadors.