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Message to Readers

After some heavy revision, I present: the final version! Did I try to accomplish too much in one story? How could I do better? What parts do you like? Did I do a good job of describing the characters? Let me know in the comments!

Diplomacy

November 18, 2018

    Two officers of the United Space Navy entered the court of King David the Just with butterflies in their stomachs.  King David would be no trivial foe if they messed up these negotiations, though he hadn't yet shown any hostile intent.  On the other hand, his allegiance would deter the International Starfarers, a marauding group of bandits, from trying to steal territory from the USN, which could prevent a war.
    The court, simple in its expensiveness, was a sea of vibrant color that dashed against King David's golden lion throne and Queen Abigail's silver eagle throne.  The sunlight through the many windows set the thrones and robes ablaze.  The reflected hues enriched the drab gray of the officer's uniforms, while the male officer's red hair resembled a signal fire lit on top of his stocky body.
    King David moved his whiplike frame with authority as he stood, his simple golden robes swirling.  "Greetings!  Please, name yourselves and be seated."
    "I am captain Erik Llewellen of the USN Starfarer.  This is my commander, Hope Starwender."
    King David sat and studied them intently.  The husky captain, middle-aged and broadly built, contrasted sharply with the slight black woman, not much more than a girl in this country, standing at his side.  To the captain, the ruler's youthful, chiselled face and sparkling blue eyes appeared to hide a cunning mind. 
    "You are the captain of the single ship your commanders sent, and this is your first officer?  How nieve," the monarch commented at last.  He leaned back in his throne with hooded eyes and a masklike expression.
    "Sire, please don't do what I think you're thinking of doing," Queen Abigail pleaded.
    King David grinned.  "Malluch!"
    A young noble stood forth.  His black hair was mere stubble, and his crimson tunic was open, showcasing his brawny chest.
    "See this fly that bothers my queen?  Retrieve it."
    Malluch waited attentively to strike.  With a snap his arm lashed out a whip that was back on his belt before the officers had realized that it had happened.  He calmly picked the insect off the floor and presented it to his king.
    King David smiled.  "Well done.  Take the captain to the dungeon and the woman to the kitchen to work with the slaves."
    Malluch nodded.
    "You can't do this!" Starwender protested.  "It's against the law!"
    "I'm the king.  I make the laws."
    "If I don't check in in fifteen minutes," Captain Llewellen warned, "My crew will know something's wrong."
    King David didn't hesitate.  "Go."
    
    Hope looked away from the mountains outside the kitchen window and whispered to a kitchen slave, "What's going on?  Why are you here?"
    The slave replied,  "My people warred against King David.  He defeated our army and captured our land, but he was gracious and merciful.  We must serve seven years to right the wrongs we've done, and we'll go free.  Then King David will help us repair our homes.  Where are you from, that you didn't know this?"
    Hope struggled to believe this story after the monarch's swift agression, but the slave seemed truthful.  "I come from Venus."
    "I've never heard of it.  What's it like?"
    Hope smiled.  "Well, it was really hot..."

    Queen Abigail joined her husband on the balcony that adjoined their bedroom.  "My love, don't you think you're taking this a bit far?"
    "I only asked for the Starfarer, a few pounds --"
    "One hundred, dear."
    "One hundred pounds of platinum, and six Arabian horses."
    "This is becoming expensive for the USN."
    King David studied his beautiful wife's tanned, heart-shaped face.  The moonlight was falling on her loose black hair, just the way that drove him craziest.  But the concern in her bottomless ultramarine eyes kept him focused.
    "Please," she begged.  "It's time to stop."
    King David hesitated.  He dearly loved a joke, but he also adored his wife.
    "I will tomorrow," he promised.

    Erik stared up at the pattern on the ceiling that the dawn and the barred window made.  He had seen worse dungeons.  The windows brought fresh air, the guards were humane, the food was actually better than the USN rations, and he even had some privacy.  But even a golden cage is tiresome.
    What did I do wrong? he wondered.  Why did he do this to us?  We never attacked him!
    The door creaked as Malluch bounded in and greeted Erik with a rare smile.  "Come."
    Erik, who had gotten used to the laconic nobleman, was flummoxed.  What could he be grinning about?
    The throne room was stained ruby by the dawn.  King David and all his court were smiling.  Erik's curiosity was screaming.
    "Erik!"  Hope called. 
    Malluch led Erik to her side, grinning like a maniac.  Hope and Erik traded puzzled glances: their first communication since their capture.
    King David humbly approached the pair.  "Captain Llewelen, Commander Starskimmer, I owe you an apology.  I've gone too far.  In my zeal for friendship, and my love for pranks, I thought to teach the USN  how easy it would be for one so inclined to take advantage of your goodwill and innocence.  I fear I may have made an enemy.  Please, help me make this right."
    The duo was shocked.  King David undid Erik's handcuffs and concluded, "I am setting you free with my apologies and an offer of friendship.  I retract all ransom demands."
    Erik and Hope incredulously traded glances.  Could this really be happening?
    King David clapped his hands.  Two boys came forward, bearing chargers.  King David presented the ambassadors with two richly jewelled, engraved, and gilded silver horns.
    "I have no starshhips, but I proffer seven hundred pounds of platinum and twenty-four horses of the king's stock to the USN as a gift of friendship."
    "Really?" Hope breathed.
    "Men may sometimes call me a cruel coward, but none shall call me miserly."
    "Thank you, Your Majesty!" Captain Erik exclaimed, shaking his hand like a madman.  "I'm sure this will be the beginning of a long and prosperous friendship."

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2 Comments
  • Silver Pen

    Thanks! Hopefully the judges agree. ;)


    almost 3 years ago
  • _________

    Yes! Descriptions are fabulous :D
    I'm wowed! Great job :D


    almost 3 years ago