The office of the Minister of War was spartan and utilitarian, as was befitting a high level Bruish bureaucrat. Though they felt no need for any kind of decoration, visiting dignitaries of other species were more comfortable when there was at least a wall pick. Since they could care less either way, there were some picks. All the wall displays were neutral nature scenes from their home world: a jungle moon orbiting a gas supergiant in a binary star system, with one spectral “M” red giant and one “F” type main sequence. Though the scenes were as varied as jungles could be, there were no depictions of animals. The few furnishings in the barren, sad, cold, space, were cold metal and near unbreakable glass.
The Bruish were a calm and well balance reptile race, a result, like any species, of their world. The gravitational stress of the two stars multiple moons and parent planet kept the four hundred or so tectonic plates in a slow crawl. But due to the low violence of the volcanic activity and regular small quakes the planet slipped into a slow rhythm that produced a very methodical species that was not prone to rash action. They were the least emotional species in the coalition, they did not process emotions as readily as the others, and anxiety was one they handled least well.
Due to their low reliance on emotion they engaged in extreme levels of planning and preparation most other species couldn’t comprehend, and they were good at it. Seldom did something catch them unawares. But, when something does completely blindside them, like the Ankii showing up to their world and introducing the galaxy to them, they handled it poorly. At least that revelation had been wrapped in splendor; their present predicament was all turd blossoms.
Though the office could easily contain half a dozen average sized sapients, at present, there were only two in the office, the War Minister and the Minister of Science.
Kaisar Fen, the current War Minister for the past 100 rotations, paced the office with barely contained angst. Words were a very important aspect of the Bruish, if it was less than double entendre it was considered a dull conversation. Though they did have a ‘business speak’, one always had to choose their words with care, and nothing was coming to mind.
“How is it, Science minister,” he gave up the pretense of wordplay, this was too important to play with words, only pure business speak would do, the first time he had ever done so, “That the most secure project in our history, was absconded with, on our watch, under our noses? On Mermarau of all places!”
The Science Minister stood impassively at a military parade rest, she had had time to gather herself before the meeting. Like all the rest of her race, other races though they were multi colored clones of each other. A Bruish could always tell the difference, the way one walked talked, the pattern of raised dots on their skin, the shape of the irises to determine gender, and of course the colors, which always had varied hues and refracted light in slightly different patterns.
Leng She, a woman, had irises that were 4 pointed stars, and Fen’s were 5 pointed stars, she was violet and he was sea foam green. The lack of mammaries, and other external gender organs gave many mammals pause when divining their genders, enhancing the feel of them being clones.
The Science Minister, Leng She, had also had time to think about her responses, playing games 5 move ahead was natural for them, which is why they excelled at strategy and tactics, but their science still moved at a turtle's pace, more time planning than doing.
“Those that make the tools can be unfit to use them. All specialists have their own potential strengths and weaknesses.” She couldn't resist pointing out security’s missteps, “As of yet, there is no intel on the pilfer. But, as close to good news as can be had, agents have located a stolen Unicorn ship, matching the registry of a known smuggler craft, at the center of N-8T15TR-5748UK, the planet designated 3RK-F4M-501.”
This news was harder to take then the thought that someone could steal from them. Fen stumbled to his chair as he considered the implications. That was a sector that was not only beyond the borders of the Coalition, but by treaty, a territory supposed to remain free of class X technology, and a symbiote was well above that. Kaisar’s head emptied of all thoughts as he tried to wrap his brain around it.
“That, complicates things.” he finally managed, such a simple statement a moment ago would be unthinkable, “The Senate will not be pleased, favor in that area is low to start with.”
Before anything else could be said, a chime sounded at the door, “Not a good time, Geid.” Kaisar groaned as his aid bowed respectfully.
“Apologetic salutations,” Geid returned, head still bowed, “Senator Shing Nah insists.”
Shing Nah was one of the oldest and most respected Senators the Bruish had. His yellow with a hint of brown skin was drying out with age, but he still looked regal. Fen quickly stood up, and both he and She placed their right hands to their chests and dropped to one knee, the most appropriate sign of respect they could muster at this time.
“We have a problem.” Shing started, the fact that he was here said that much, that he felt the need to say it aloud was cause for great concern from all, “Elysium knows what was stolen. They also have information we must negotiate for.”
Information and its control was a commodity for the Bruish, nothing was more valuable. Though they usually had a good idea what the information was when they went into negotiations, concrete was better than abstract.
“Have they provided collaborative content?” Fen rose slowly.
“That we had better keep better track of our weapons.” Nah bluntly alleged.
Elysium was one of the few stellar powers that had not joined the Ansaii when they created their empire. Originally they were a few systems near the galactic core, but during the civil war, they expanded. Xenophobic in nature, these centaurs protected their own at all costs, but they would not aggressive. They were a live and let live people, and no one was certain which of their dozen or so original worlds was their homeworld. The fact that they had contacted the Coalition was troubling.
“What do they want?” She cocked her head.
Rather than speak, Nah, activated his tablet and the nature scenes shifted to space views. With different perspectives and zoomed views, it was child’s play to figure out what was going on. There was a neutral zone established at the founding of the Coalition on the edge of Bruish space and Elysium. The cold war they had going was never going to thaw, neither could be compelled to go to war with the other. But skirmishes could erupt at any time, due to complications from other species.
The planet in question was completely inhabitable. A rocky remnant of a gas giant, one of three, orbiting a dying neutron star. The only strategic value of the system was the metallic hydrogen, helium three, heavy water, and neutronium of the three cores and star. All these materials were scarce but invaluable to starship and other advanced constructs.
“The Coalition does not know of this reserve, how do they?” She wondered.
“They are nearly as meticulous as we, and they do not explore quickly.” Fen rounded his desk to look closer at the starscape, “It would take a conclave to cede such a thing.”
“If such a decision can be made.” Nah offered.
“I do not mean to over step,” Fen turned back to the senator, “But why inform us?”
“It takes five elders to call a conclave.”
“And we are just three…”
“We are slightly ahead of schedule.” Nah strode to the door, “You both know, Yenshi Cho, the CEO of Coalition Logistics and shipping, And Phol Hen, Chairmen of the Galactic Reserve.”
As he spoke two others, a man with blue-grey skin, and an eggshell woman entered, bowing respectfully, “We have reviewed the information, and we implore urgency in our decision.”
Nothing within their prevue was quick, the speed at which the Senator managed this was breathtaking.
“A conclave will take time.” Geid’s voice waivered, the urgency would still be mired by their overly methodical nature.
They hated to act rashly, and most things didn’t happen in a convenient time scale. There was only one way they could move quickly, and that was with a quorum. Such a thing had not happened in ages.
“We have a deka-cycle to make the agreement.” Even Nah’s voice waivered, “They know what they are doing and can react much quicker as a species than we.”
Admitting they had flaws was easy, they knew they were not perfect, and when one knows their limits they can take measures to reinforce that chink.
“It will cause a start with the others.” She sighed, the rest of their species had to be made aware of the nature, as well as keeping it hidden from the other species, another thing that normally would have taken a revolution.
“Better the rest ask, then panic ensue.” Nah nodded sagely.
“Start arrangements for a black conclave after graduation.” Kaisar ordered, the decision was made, they would have to work extra hard to get back ahead, they all hoped they were up to it.
As the others filed out, Fen collapsed from exhaustion, glad he was in his office, “Computer, halt displays, dim lights, and inform Geid I am not to be disturbed.” He let his head fall to the desk.