Her Imperial Highness, the Obar Princess Shalle Shenaell Naydhu, watched with varying degrees of anxiousness and interest the graceful docking maneuvers of her impressive spaceship Tezlun—“Reliable” in Obar Imperial language—into the Official Pier of the Peowak Spaceport. There was a lot of activity inside the Central Command Deck, as the Flight Officers worked frantically to secure the ship and to detect any signs of Insurgency or sabotage into the surrounding space, and the Obar Princess was in everybody’s way. As always, she did not realize she was impeding them to perform their job in a timely manner, therefore she smiled innocently and talked to anybody who happened to cross her path. Of course that the Officers were tense and stressed, but they all managed to find a few moments to smile back and chat with her, because the Princess WAS their Dear Pupil!
     Through the large command windows Shalle noticed the Peowak Spaceport was in fact a huge Space City, and she thought that, later, after she would finish meeting with peasants’ Ambassador, she could very well do little shopping. Peowak was well famous throughout the Great Obar Empire for its superb natural fabrics, although that was no wonder, given its proximity to peasants’ Planet, Aggrea.

     The medium size Inter-Systems Imperial Liner Tezlun had exactly the same age as the Obar Princess: the ship and its crew had been assigned to serve her, when she was born. Due to its noble rank, Tezlun had been retrofitted almost every two Obar years, therefore it was the best spaceship in the entire Obar Empire—better even than the ships of the Great Obar Emperor! All two thousand nine hundred seventy-two Officers and crew onboard Tezlun were handsomely rewarded for acting as Protectors of the Obar Princess. In fact, they were more like a large happy family pampered, honored, and respected everywhere they went in the Great Obar Empire.
     Life on Tezlun had been just wonderful and perfect until the beginning of the Insurgency, about half Obar year before. Tezlun had had to be fitted with military defensive and offensive weapon systems, though everything had been done in a rush, and nothing worked properly. The ship was directing home, to the Imperial Planet Obar, for a thorough military retrofitting, when the Princess ordered the High-Command Flight Officers to alter the course, to stop at Peowak in Palhn System, and to take onboard the Ambassador of Aggrea!

     Aggrea was an agricultural Planet having only a few industrial resources, and it was at War with the Great Obar Empire for fifty Obar years. Amazingly, the peasants on Aggrea announced they wanted to send an Ambassador to the Great Obar Emperor, and the Princess decided that it was a fantastic opportunity to conquer the soul of the peasant with her refined education, with her elegant manners, and with her thorough knowledge in sociology!
     All High-Command Flight Officers were greatly worried about having to stop at Peowak, in the dangerous Palhn System, therefore of the possibility to become a target for terrorist insurgent acts. Even worse, the planned presence of the Aggrea Ambassador onboard Tezlun inspired nightmarish fears to everybody, from the First-Order Flight Commander to the last kitchen aid. Regrettably, that was everybody, excepting the Obar Princess. She was so sweet, nice and naive, totally unaware about the dangers created by the Insurgency, or by Aggrea Ambassador’s presence.
     The electromagnetic docking clamps attached to the hull, then the telescopic passageway started being pressurized with air. The Reception Ceremony was planned to be performed inside the Shuttles Hangar, with full military honors, therefore everybody involved rushed to the designated meeting place.

     When she entered the hangar, Shalle encouraged herself thinking she was well prepared for that important mission. She started waiting patiently, in a stiff official attitude. The Honor Guards in dark-blue and silver uniforms were nicely aligned for Reception, while the Princess was dressed in a superb milk-white dress, and a dark-red cape—which contrasted discreetly with Guards’ colors. Unfortunately, for some unnatural reasons she sensed that her heartbeats were rushing up, and her cheeks went hotter!
     Shalle felt annoyingly nervous with her voluntary mission due to the rumors that the peasants had great mental powers—although she also knew they never attacked people if not in an immediate and plausible danger. More important, however, was the unexpected opportunity to implement her vast theoretical knowledge into practice, therefore Shalle intended to benefit of that unique experience as much as it was decently possible.

     Finally the gates opened, and the Princess saw a large platoon of the Elite Force soldiers in black combat armors entering the hangar. They were led by a Third-Order Commander—a handsome man in his mid sixties—while the soldiers surrounded a strange metallic construction . . . holding a chained man inside!
     The Third-Order Commander produced a sharp signal, and the platoon stopped in two perfectly synchronized sequences, then he came in front of the Princess and took the attention position. He reported, “Your Imperial Highness, I am Third-Order Commander, Thorda Duhant Harbat, of the Elite Force Assault Group unit Aleka Neh four hundred fifty-nine. We are escorting the Ambassador of Aggrea to His Majesty the Great Obar Emperor—”
     The Obar Princess raised slightly her right arm to stop the report. She walked slowly, closer to the cage, then she looked at it and at the man inside. After a while, she turned towards the Third-Order Commander with very red cheeks, and asked, pronouncing each word distinctively, with restrained anger, “WHAT IS THAT?”
     Commander Harbat, in his turn, went on suddenly displaying patches of red on his face. He replied, appearing to be frightened and perplexed altogether, “I am sorry, Your Highness, to what are you referring?”
     “That! The cage and the chains!” said the Obar Princess while pointing at the metallic construction with a delicate finger.
     Slightly relaxed, Commander Harbat explained, “Your Highness, I follow direct orders from the High Imperial Council, and even the Ambassador agreed to be treated this way before he started his Mission—”
     “This is a despicable infamy—” started the Obar Princess, then she quickly turned towards the cage and addressed the prisoner, “You! What is your name?”
     “My name is Dar’Raen, Miss.”
     Peasant’s voice was low and soft, and he was smiling at her as if he were amused by the entire situation! The Princess looked carefully at him. The Ambassador was very tall, with an athletic body, and he was young, of about forty Obar years. He had shoulder long, dark-brown curly hair, and a nice square face with penetrating dark-blue eyes. His lips were frozen into a faint ironic smile!
     Ambassador’s clothes appeared to be clean. They were coarsely tailored, in shades of beige and brown, and they were made of some sort of . . . farm-made fabric which emanated a feeble scent of . . . of farm animals! The man was watching her attentively in his turn, while holding on the cage with very big, chained, knotty hands, and he had big feet—also chained!—in some sort of primitive leather sandals.

     “Dar’Raen and what?” asked the Obar Princes angrily.
     The Ambassador increased his ironic smile while looking straight into her eyes. He replied, “Just Dar’Raen, Miss.”
     “Rude and insolent!” thought Shalle. She inquired in a loud voice, “Did you agree to this . . . this . . . bestial treatment?”
     He answered calmly, “Yes, Miss.”
     “How could you do such thing? Don’t you realize how degrading this is?” asked the Princess perplexed.
     “It is not degrading for me, Miss,” replied the Ambassador.
     The Obar Princess paled severely, as if lashed by his caustic irony—which she felt it down to the tiniest fibers of her soul. She turned towards the Third-Order Commander and said in a firm voice, “I want this person released IMMEDIATELY, and then treated with the same honors we show to any Ambassador or Governor form any of our Systems!”
     Commander Thorda tried to reason with her; he pleaded, “Your Highness, please allow me to remind you that I am under strict orders coming from the High Imperial Council and signed by the very hand of the Great Obar Emperor—”
     Shalle interrupted him furiously, “On my ship I give the orders, Sir! If you do not want me to ask my Guards to throw you and your soldiers out, you shall do as I say!” It wasn’t in her character to be that rude, and to order people around like that, therefore Shalle felt highly humiliated for having to do it.
     Officer’s face blanched noticeably, then he rushed to motivate defensively, “Your Highness, please allow me to remind you that this man is extremely dangerous! Without escort, chains, and cage, he is capable of killing all the people aboard this ship with his bare hands only!”
     Shalle realized she had been driven too far by her nervous condition. That was not the proper way of dealing with those military people. She turned towards the Ambassador and waited for a few moments to calm down, then she asked in her, close to normal, sweet voice, “Do you intend to kill me and my people, Mr. Dar’Raen?”
     The Peasant replied in a gentle tone of voice, appearing to be greatly amused, “Ha, ha! Oh no, Miss; I do not have, and I never had the intention of killing anybody in my entire life. As for killing you, My Dear Lady, I do not believe you have someone aboard this ship willing to protect you more than I do.”
     The Peasant was watching, smiling, and talking to her as if she were just an ordinary Lady; as if he were an equal, or even superior in social status to her! However, he appeared to be sufficiently sociable, and his attitude was comforting. The Obar Princess addressed to the Officer in a very dry voice, “Please release the Ambassador, Sir.”
     Commander Thorda changed to a stiff attitude and replied, “Your Highness, the only way I could release the Ambassador is if you endorse a recorded order—”
     “Thank you, Sir. Please record my order. For the duration of his journey onboard the Imperial Spaceship Tezlun, the Ambassador of Aggrea shall be released from any physical constrains, and he shall be treated with same courtesy we show to any Ambassador or Governor from any of our Systems.
     The Ambassador shall be quartered in Governors’ apartments on deck five. You may post two people sentinel outside his gate, unarmed and in parade uniforms, with the sole purpose TO PROTECT AND HONOR THE AMBASSADOR!” The Princess added her Imperial Identification Code to the record, then she watched carefully how the soldiers freed the caged man.
     The peasant appeared happy to be free. He came in her front, he bowed slightly—still smiling impertinently!—then said, “It is a great pleasure, Miss, to observe that courtesy and the good old manners have not yet disappeared from the Great Obar Empire of the House Naydhu.”
     The Princess replied in a stiff, official attitude, “Your Excellency, I am the Obar Princess, Shalle Shenaell Naydhu, and I welcome you aboard the Imperial Spaceship Tezlun. My hope is that you shall enjoy your short trip to Obar, and my company. If your Excellency does not mind, I should like to have the pleasure of meeting with you for dinner, in my quarters.”
     He said, “Thank you for freeing me, Miss Naydhu. You are indeed a gracious and generous Lady, therefore the pleasure of meeting with you shall be entirely mine.”
     The Princes couldn’t help noticing that the peasant DID have some manners, though also plenty of sharp irony. She felt very tired, and she wanted some time to recover after that horrible, unbelievably embarrassing incident!



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