A new diplomate joins Haillar’s Embassy in Caldeor, one of the oldest and most traditionalist driang words. A woman with a hidden agenda. A woman who didn’t exist fifty days ago.
Before the siege of Aldeea, before humanity’s first contact, a younger Ellandra unravels an enemy plot on one of the Dorien worlds.
Assassination attempts, battles in space, betrayals, friendship and honour. ‘Ellandra’ has them all.
“Make way for Dersinomer, esteemed Archon of the planet Caldeor.”
I took two steps to the left, barely avoiding a crash with the standard-bearer. The overdressed driang ignored me entirely and stepped through the gate, his master following through equally nonplussed. Six guards wearing ornamental cuirasses, but very functional pikes marched in step behind them. The closest one threw me a scathing look as if my presence on the portal dais was an offence to the departing bureaucrat.
I let them pass, then stepped back on the ramp descending toward the middle of the hall. The Caldeor exchange was an airy chamber decorated with warm colours, conveying a feeling of freedom somehow appropriate for an avian race like the driang. The bird staring at me from an alcove at the end of the ramp was anything but warm, though.
“Place your hand on the identification crystal,” grunted the border guard, adding belatedly: “Please.”
The driang were our oldest partners in the Dominion, yet a bunch of arrogant assholes, nevertheless. Oh, they were respectful enough in their dealings with Sen’Haillar upper echelons, but their courtesy did not extend to ordinary Dominion citizens. And a freshly minted Third Level Legate was a Haillar as ordinary as they came.
While putting my right hand on the reader, I handed my employment token with the left. The officer inserted it in a slot on his console and peeked to a screen invisible from my side of the desk.
“Twenty-one cycles.” And change, I added silently in my mind. No need to share this latest thought with the surly avian.
“Where did you come from?”
“Tao Bellona, the Dominion’s Capital”
“Reason for your visit?”
“I was assigned as junior legate with the Haillar Embassy on Caldeor.”
I’m sure the avian had all this information on the screen in front of his beak. He pinned me with a fixed birdlike stare nevertheless, as if my very presence there, in front of him was breaking the law. I watched him back with wide, innocent eyes, trying to look as harmless as I could possibly be. I was the naïve Haillar girl taking her first steps on her own into the world out there.
The guard was unimpressed. These planet’s border officers probably went through specialised training specifically designed to make them look unfriendly. Or maybe they were naturally ill-disposed towards any trespassers, especially of the non-driang kind.