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JL | Com Ivanova, Empress Xue'Daio Nox | "Justifall"

Posted on 241812.03 @ 14:54 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Xue'Daio Nox

Mission: Lacuna

The past month and a half had been spent watching autumn turn to winter within the hold of Aleine. If you could call it autumn, that is. The city itself was nestled well within a subtropical zone of the planet, autumn was nothing more than the threat of rain on a near daily basis until - out of the blue - nature flipped a switch and everyone woke to a light covering of snow coating every available outdoor surface. Even the fronds of the palm-like trees glistened in the early morning light, painted white and glittering with ice and snow’s frigid caress.

It had been summer last Rochelle had stepped foot on Apsha. Hot days and wild tempests blowing in off the turquoise seas had been replaced by dark, angry slate waves capped with white and a wet cold that bit through her uniform in the most miserable of ways. She couldn’t help but acknowledge the way the Stenellis people had augmented their light summer robes with thicker fabrics and fur-lined cuffs. The Empress herself was rarely seen without the warm covering of a fur stole or a gracious fur lined cape that bundled her away from winter’s icy tines.

Switching to cold weather gear had been unavoidable. Finding Almar lounging by fire or an available heater was not at all uncommon - and not only understandable, but appreciated. It left her with a sense of comfort, knowing that he was able to take care of himself… That he wouldn’t shiver and pass from hypothermia - something that had been a very real threat on a mission once upon a time ago. Still… The Commodore’s mood was widely unmoved or lifted by much of anything. It was more or less as foul and chilly as the wintry weather they were now encountering as they continued to sit with and talk to Xue’Daio on her own terms and on her own turf.

“Commodore? Are you alright?” The albino regent rested a tea cup down on its saucer and sat, blinking, in the direction the vibrant redhead sat. Her head canted gently to one side, echoing the question and begging for answer without prying too terribly hard. She’d watched the way the woman’s eyes followed the falling snow just outside the windows of her private library. There was a sadness there - hidden well by all accounts - that she can’t caught there before. Most of the time, Rochelle Ivanova was as steely as they came - the pinnacle image of an unflappable leader and downright savage warrior. Seeing that hint of inner turmoil, that feather soft kiss of melancholia, somewhat tarnished that image. It was a harsh reminder that the woman was indeed human and not some infallible spectre. “Commodore?”

Tugging her attention away from her thoughts, Rochelle turned back towards the Empress with mild confusion and question written across her face, “Hmmm? Oh… Yes. I was lost in thought for a moment.” She nodded, shifting her weight in her seat and reaching for her tea with a small, apologetic smile, “My apologies,” she nodded quickly.

“No matter.” Xue smiled softly, re-adjusting herself ever so gently. The heavy winter robes were her least favorite things to wear. In many ways they were stuffy and relatively cumbersome when compared with their silken summer counterparts. “I was just remarking that the last time you were here was very different.” It came with a half-hearted shrug as if she realized how daft the statement truly was. Of course it had been different. Last time Starfleet was being fattened like sheep for slaughter by her mother and the cursed Romulan. This time they sat as equals pouring over details of alliances and going over what each could stand to offer the other. No doubt it was a similar song and dance for the Commodore, but for Xue’Daio it was new as the fresh white snow resting against the windowsill. It wasn’t exactly the highlight of entertainment, but it was interesting none-the-less and the young regent gravitated towards it all the while stopping to ascertain the shifting tide of emotions rolling within her counterpart.

The bright rose of her eyes carefully regarded the warm-toned face of the human woman, never settling on any one part for very long. Yes. There was sadness, but there was also that unyielding power and fire roiling just beneath the surface, promising to scorch the world to cinders even though the woman say still and dainty with all the zenith of a Buddhist monk. It was Xue’s job to see that the Firebird’s demeanor didn’t need to shift towards that radical, unpredictable side - not that the Ascendancy couldn’t defend itself - it was more out of a desire to preserve the integrity of living art.

“Yes. Yes it is.” Rochelle nodded, blissfully oblivious to the express train of thought circulating within the regent’s brain. Had she known of it, she might just have blushed and chided herself for not tucking away the loose ends of her fraying personal life a touch better. “It’s colder, for one.” The small joke was thinly guarded by another sip of tea and the quick meeting of eyes in a glance that bespoke good humor rather than offense or true complaint.

All it took was that glance, and then it clicked for the Empress.

The teacup touched saucer once more and sat warming her long, elegant fingers as she toyed and tinkered with words in her mind. It was obvious, bright as day, what was it was that trifled with the Commodore’s incessant flames - but it would take a great deal of tact to approach it and, perhaps, trust… Trust which they certainly did not curry between one another, at least not yet. Rochelle was still leery and waiting for the other shoe to drop and Xue couldn’t quite fault her for that level of suspicion. The last time she’d been a guest of the royal court of Apsha, she’d nearly left in a body bag… If, and it was a big if, Psy’Daio would have released the body - Gods only knew what the former regent and her Romulan puppeteer had planed. The thought alone made the albino’s stomach churn.

“It is. You’ve arrived during the off season.” She chuckled good naturedly, choosing to say nothing on her thoughts for the moment, “Good news is that the beaches are empty, however I actually recommend heading north to Justifall if you have the time to get away. It’s better suited to winter and snow sports and far more picturesque than Aleine during the winter.” Saying nothing of the major commerce and the fact the mile high city was responsible for welcoming most imports, and waving goodbye to most exports, to and from the planet. It wasn’t violent or congested, most of that form of business being conducted near solely beneath the mountains in an elaborate subterranean hub. Somehow Xue figured that such things would be of more mild interest to the Commodore and best left out of conversation, seeing that the works had already been toured by a small team of the woman’s ever loyal retinue. Undoubtedly it had been skipped by the redhead given the boring nature of such work… And the fact such a facility was hard to defend should trouble break out while one was within its holds. Rochelle was wise indeed, but more to the point was the burning truth that business, imports, exports, tariffs were quintessential but lackluster work that kept the Ascendancy humming.

“For what it’s worth, I recommend a visit. I have a feeling you’ll enjoy it.”

The sound the Commodore made from behind her cup was one of ascension and agreement. Her time on Apsha had always been spent in Aleine or moving back and forth from the stronghold of the Vindicator orbiting high above. She hadn’t allowed herself to explore the way her crew had, nor had she taken the time to even consider such - but it made sense. Leaving the royal city, staying down away from the ship for a longer period of time, would be a positive show of good faith - one that she knew she needed to extend if there was ever going to be more than stuffy meetings around tea pressing on about details surrounding a treaty and small, often one off, comments about anything else. “You know what…” She spoke easily, finishing her tea, “I think I will take a trip up to Justifall. You’re not the first to say that I’d enjoy it.”

“Splendid!” Xue exclaimed, “I’ll make arrangements for you to travel the traditional way. You’ll thank me for it later.”

And such the bud of trust was born and Xue’Daio’s hope to interfere, but not meddle, was sprung near eternal. Rochelle was left without much choice but to accept the offer - albeit with slight chagrin - but it would be for the best. If this was going to work - a healthy relationship between the Federation and the Stenellian Ascendancy - there would need to be trust, friendship even, between the two stalwart titans representing each. Anything less was uncomfortable and tantamount to injury and insult, however accidental, and neither could be accepted.

Neither would be accepted.

---

Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

Empress Xue'Daio Nox
Queen of Apsha
Ruler of Aleine
Stenellian Ascendancy

 

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