The Home Planet of the Great Obar Empire was Obar, within the Gok Planetary System. Obar was a highly industrialized Planet, and it had forty-seven space cities in orbit—one for each System of the Empire, including Gok. Eleven complex Military Compounds, one for each Imperial Space Fleet, were adding long segments to that enormous spatial structure. Seen from some distance, those magnificent constructions appeared to be an intricate metallic embroidery, a thin ring surrounding the Planet!
     On the surface, a considerable area belonged to Imperial Territories, while the rest of the Planet was filled with military and civil industry, with enormous administrative cities, and with scientific research facilities. The entire surface on Obar was used at maximum efficiency, though there was sufficient space for everything, even for thousands of wonderful recreational parks. All cities and industrial platforms had gardens of vegetables, cereal parcels and orchards spread within, or on their constructions. More or less, the entire populated land surface appeared to be one rich, various, very well cared for, wonderful garden!
     Transportation on Obar was free for everybody and incredibly well developed, allowing for a timely, safe, and comfortable access to all regions of the Planet. In order to prevent overcrowding, people, institutions, and businesses were encouraged to leave Obar on a regular schedule for the other colonized Systems of the Empire. That wise decentralization policy had lasted for a few hundred years, and the result was, many Systems became specialized in particular industrial, commercial, or institutional domains. However, Obar had managed to maintain its status of topmost political power, therefore of controlling all social and economical aspects in all peripheral Systems.
     Overall, the Obar Planet was in fact the most modern, the most civilized, and the pride of the entire Obar Empire!
     The Imperial Spaceport was harbored by the Imperial Palace Fleet—Space Fleet One. Before leaving, Shalle summoned the Spaceport Master and the High-Commander of Space Fleet One. She gave them both strict orders to guard the Ambassador of Aggrea as if he were the very Obar Emperor, or herself. The Obar Princess was the only person allowed to approach Tezlun again.
     All Space Fleets were already under a high alert due to the recent, terrible, unprecedented incident, therefore both Officers worked under a fantastic pressure. They assured the Princess that nobody and nothing was going to come near Tezlun. Moments later, Shalle left for Obar onboard the Imperial Shuttle KOS-172, escorted by an enormous cloud of Military Hunter ships.

     The Great Obar Emperor himself came to welcome the Princess when she landed. After the first moments of the meeting, Shalle asked him if he had little time to discuss private issues. The Emperor had all the time in the Universe only for his beloved child, therefore they went together to his private quarters.

     Shalle started by summarizing her meeting with the Aggrea Ambassador, and the past incident, and she emphasized—a lot!—Dar’Raen’s brave behavior. She made the Emperor promise he would meet with the Ambassador the very next day, in the morning, unofficially and in a total secret, and she would be allowed to assist to that meeting.
     The Emperor couldn’t refuse anything to his daughter. However, he was wondering confused about what could have happened, because Shenaell had never shown any interest in politics before.
     In the end, Shalle let her looks down, then she said timidly, “Daddy, there is something I have to tell you, but I do not know how to say it . . .”
     “Oh, come on little shrew! You always do and say whatever you like. What is it?”
     She confessed hesitantly, “Well, you see . . . the Ambassador touched me.”
     “So?” asked the Emperor perplexed.
     “Ah, you do not understand! You have to ask him of his intentions!” said Shalle with exasperation.
     “Just a little touch, My Dear—” started the Emperor puzzled.
     “He held me in his arms!” confessed Shalle with very red cheeks.
     Slightly amused, the Emperor replied, “Ha, ha! I think he is a very smart fellow; I would have done the same in his place.”
     “Ah, daddy, you are joking! I want you to . . .” started Shalle, though she left her words unfinished, appearing to be too shy to continue.
     The Emperor watched her attentively for a few moments, then he asked in a rather tense voice, “What sweetie? What would you like me to do?”
     She replied greatly troubled, “Ah, I do not know . . .” then she added with determination, “Do something!”

     The Princess left, and the Emperor remained alone with his thoughts. Was it possible that his daughter had found, eventually, a man she liked? After her thirty-fifth birthday the Emperor had lost all hopes to see her married . . . any time soon. He was very curious about what kind of a man that incredible Aggrea Ambassador was to please his daughter . . . A peasant!
     Anyway, peasant or not, the Great Obar Emperor was well determined to have a son-in-law as soon as possible.

     The Princess arranged for Dar’Raen’s suites in the Imperial Palace to be as close as possible to hers, then she personally issued orders for the High-Commander of the Imperial Guards regarding the security of the Ambassador—that had never happened before! Once she was finished with all arrangements, she returned to Tezlun.
     Shalle went to the Blue Reception Salon, then she invited Dar’Raen to come and meet with her. When he arrived, she explained, “Everything is agreed. You will meet with my father tomorrow morning, unofficially, and I shall be present at your discussions!” The Princess was very happy, and she had tiny sparkles of excitement in her terrific golden eyes.
     Dar’Raen smiled kindly at her, then said, “I do not know how to thank you for your efforts and consideration, Princess—”
     She interrupted him with a beginning of irritation, “Ambassador, when we are alone, you may call me Shalle, and I prefer to call you Dar’Raen.”
     He replied perplexed, and a little scared, “My Dear Princess, I wouldn’t dare! We are now at the Imperial Planet—”
     She interrupted him in a firm voice, “Shalle!” then she added softly, “When we are alone.”
     “If you insist . . . Shalle,” managed Dar’Raen timidly.
     “Aha! You do not like my name!” remarked the Princess with irritation.
     “It is the perfect name for you, Shalle,” rushed Dar’Raen defensively.
     She paused for a few moments, then she asked suspiciously, “What do you mean ‘for you’? You want to say that I am ugly?”
     “You are beautiful as only Princesses can be, Shalle,” confessed Dar’Raen with a lot of genuine admiration in his eyes.
     She continued with her suspicious investigations, “Well then, you try to say that the Princesses are ugly?”
     Dar’Raen smiled at her, since she behaved like a spoiled little girl. He said gently, “No, My Dear. You are very beautiful, and I like you very much, Shalle. I like you a lot!”
     Those were the right words needed to draw her irritation away. She smiled sweetly in response, then said, “Come, Dar’Raen, let’s go to Obar. I want to show you all the places I like. We have wonderful gardens, mountains, lakes, forests, oceans, and many others. We need hundreds of days to see them all! Until tomorrow morning, Dar’Raen, all your time is MINE!”

     And indeed it was. They had lunch together, then they visited gardens, forests, lakes, and a few Imperial Palaces. Later they enjoyed dinner, and they talked, they laughed, and they crossed each other a lot, and about everything.
     The Princess wanted to have him near all the time, and he felt very happy, as never before in his life. He discovered amazed that the beautiful Obar Princess was in fact a sweet little girl, very direct, very possessive, and very—hm, hmm—tempting!
     They met at breakfast time, and later they went together to meet with the Great Obar Emperor, in his private quarters. The Emperor was a handsome man, tall, in his eighties, strong and full of vigor, with piercing dark-brown eyes and dark hair. He had the same direct, open, and honest attitude as his daughter’s.
     The Princess made the introductions, then they took seats in sumptuous chairs.
     Dar’Raen started formally, “Your Imperial Majesty, thank you very much for according this audience—”
     The Emperor interrupted him, “Ambassador, allow me first to thank you for saving my daughter’s life. We both owe you very much.” He was looking at Dar’Raen from head to toes and back again, and he was very pleased with what he saw. He could clearly imagine one . . . or two . . . even three couples of healthy and very noisy grandchildren—his grandchildren!
     Dar’Raen replied with consideration, “I was only very lucky, Your Majesty, to have the honor to protect Her Imperial Highness.”
     “Still, we owe you a lot, Ambassador. Now, what can I do for your people?” asked the Emperor with an excellent disposition.
     “I am the one who owes to Your Majesty, and to Her Highness, for your kind hospitality. As the Ambassador of Aggrea, I would like, before anything else, to inform Your Majesty that the people of Aggrea are, and they shall always be, your dutiful subjects.”
     “That is pleasing news to me, Ambassador, because I clearly remember that there is a War going on between us—and it has lasted for almost fifty Obar years,” replied the Emperor ironically.
     “We did not start that War, Your Majesty, and we do not even consider it a War, because all the people in the Great Obar Empire are our brothers and sisters of the same parents. It is just a small misunderstanding which we would like to see it ended as soon as possible.”
     “So do I, Ambassador. Aah . . . Look, Dar’Raen—may I call you Dar’Raen?” asked the Emperor
     “Whatever it pleases Your Majesty—” replied Dar’Raen perplexed.
     “Well then, it pleases me to call you, Dar’Raen, and you should call me Sir, in exchange.”
     “But, Your Majesty—”
     “Sir, Dar’Raen, like father and son. Yeah, like father and son—in consideration for my age, Dar’Raen,” clarified the Emperor.
     “Thank you . . . Sir,” managed Dar’Raen.
     “Ha, ha! See, it is a lot better! After all, we are all children of the same parents. Ha, ha, ha! Soo, tell me, Dar’Raen, what do your . . . my people on Aggrea have in mind?”
     “I have to take it from the very beginning . . . Sir,” said Dar’Raen timidly.
     “Please do that, my son. I have plenty of time for you,” replied the Emperor smiling encouragingly at him.
     Dar’Raen started, “About four hundred Obar years ago, the people on our home Planet, Obar, have developed the interstellar Space-Disruptor Drive. Following, we set colonies on forty-six Planetary Systems during the next two hundred Obar years. The Great Obar Emperor was the guarantor of freedom and welfare for all the people in the Obar Empire, therefore during the past four hundred Obar years things worked very well.
     However, the Insurgency, and the incident with the Princess two Obar days ago, show that inside the Obar Empire there are now dangerous groups of individuals ready for action, willing to overturn the lawful ruling of the Empire, in order to bring chaos and anarchy among us.
     We, on Aggrea, have foreseen the possibility of a military Insurgency. Even more, it is Aggrea to blame that the Great Obar Empire has increased its Military Forces for much too much. Therefore, I was sent to you, Sir, to present the possibility to end the senseless War with Aggrea, and to offer our help against the Insurgency. We would like to see a united, strong Obar Empire, and we would like to be a part of it—”
     The Emperor said, “Excuse me for interrupting you, Dar’Raen. I remembered the reasons my father started the War against Aggrea. It was due to the fact the emigration to Aggrea was so intense, that he went on wondering what do you actually do with those people. Aggrea cannot sustain a population of more than five billion people; yet, about ten billion people have emigrated to Aggrea before the War, plus another five billion since. The problem was, and it still is: what do you actually do with those entire populations? Do you eat, or sacrifice them? That was the reason we started the War.”
     Dar’Raen replied amused, “Ha, ha! No, Sir, we do not eat our brothers! Please, have little patience, and I shall explain what we do with them.
     Sir, in our Vah’Leil Galaxy there are more than three hundred billion Stars. As a minimum, we estimate on Aggrea that there could be about one million of Super-Civilizations in Vah’Leil—these are Civilizations which have lasted for over one hundred thousand Obar years of continuous development. Again as a minimum, there could be over three hundred million Civilizations having twenty to fifty thousand Obar years of continuous development, same as we do. That is a lot, though not all of it. We can observe in the Universe one thousand times more Galaxies than there are Stars in our Vah’Leil Galaxy. That is very much, but again not all of it, because the Universe could be thousand times larger than what we see now.
    We need to be well aware of these dimensions when we think of the future of our carbon-based, intelligent species. It could be there are many more like us out there, or it maybe we are a unique species in the entire Universe. Regardless, our first most important duty is to develop our species, and our Civilization, as much as we can.
     There are for certain in the Universe surrounding us imaginable and unimaginable forms of intelligence, each striving to develop and to multiply their species. We should do the same, as hard as we can and as fast as possible. That is not only for us, now: it is for the future of the children of our children.
     On Aggrea, we have developed the ‘Incremental Pulse Drive’ transport technology which allowed us, during the last one hundred Aggrea years, to colonize twenty-one new Planets in the nearby clusters of Stars—”
     Shalle protested surprised, “Dar’Raen! You haven’t told me anything about that Incremental Pulse Drive transport technology, and about your colonization!”
     “My Dear Princess, I did mention to you that we have enhanced the Space-Disruptor Drive. As for colonization, please excuse me, but I had no time to do it. Just be patient, and I shall explain everything to you,” promised Dar’Raen smiling kindly at her.
     Shalle replied only with a satisfied intimate smile back to Dar’Raen.
     The Emperor observed attentively those important details. He was thinking, “He is already ‘My Dear Princess’ with Shenaell, and she is plain ‘Dar’Raen’ with him! After only two Obar days! That is what I call a True Man!” He added in a loud voice towards Dar’Raen, “Please continue, my son. Everything you say sounds particularly interesting to me.” He also noticed that Shenaell blushed following his words to Dar’Raen, and she turned her looks away to hide her satisfaction.
     Dar’Raen replied, “Thank you, Sir. The way things happened on Aggrea is this: we sent a few thousand small autonomous probes into the nearby clusters of Stars capable of identifying the Planets having the proper colonization environments; when so, the probes landed on them. Next, we received signals from the landed probes, and we started exploring the new Planets using the Incremental Pulse Drive transport technology because we had two points, linked together on the Interface Two Energy Layers.
     For some particular reasons, this Incremental Pulse Drive transport technology is a lot safer than the one we are currently using, and way more efficient. I explained the reasons to Her Highness for—”
     “Yes, daddy, he did, and I can assure you that everything I heard is really impressive! They have made a great progress in science and technology on Aggrea, and they are so very kind to offer to share some of their knowledge with us,” detailed the Princess passionately.
     “Excellent! Please continue, Dar’Raen,” encouraged the Emperor
     “Thank you, Sir. At this time, Aggrea’s efforts to sustain its development, including our colonization plans, have become insufficient. Therefore, we need the help of the Great Obar Empire.
     First of all, we need to broaden our efforts towards developing new transport technologies in terms of brainpower, advanced materials, and some more experimental research work. I explained to the Princess the development of the Space-Disruptor technology based on the First-Approximation Theory, though we are ready to start experimenting with the Second-Approximation Theory and the next ones—”
     “Dar’Raen was very kind, daddy, to explain some of their research projects to me, and I can assure you I was quite overwhelmed with their advanced practical applications,” added the Princess.
     “And I shall continue explaining everything I know, Princess,” assured Dar’Raen.
     It was easy to identify familiarity in their voices; besides, the Emperor noticed the way in which they both smiled intimately at each other, totally ignoring his presence. “These are, indeed, good signs; very good signs!” thought the Emperor, then he said, “Please continue, Dar’Raen. Your work is impressive, my son.”
     “Thank you, Sir. Secondly, we need to increase our logistic support to the new colonies in terms of people, scientists, and technology. The new Planets need to be explored, researched, and developed appropriately.
     Thirdly—and I shall stop right here because everything could expand way too much in a deeper analysis—there is the problem of contacts with alien Civilizations. During our space explorations we have discovered alien Civilizations having the same level of development as ours, or lower, and we have some clues about one alien System having a Civilization level a lot more advanced.
     The issue of contacts with alien Civilizations is a responsibility which Aggrea cannot assume alone—”
     Shalle complained with sparkles of excitement in her charming eyes, “Ah, Dar’Raen! You haven’t said a word to me about those alien Civilizations! This is so exciting!”
     “I am sorry, Princess, but this is a maximum importance secret, and it requires particularly tough decisions—”
     The Emperor interrupted him in a serious tone, “Dar’Raen is right, My Dear. This problem requires an upmost careful consideration, because it could be very dangerous in the first place. We need to discuss it with our scientists, and with all the Governors . . . I am not certain that we are ready for contacts with alien Civilizations . . . Then, we should ask ourselves: do we actually need this? Please continue, my son.”
     “Sir, you have expressed precisely the same doubts we have. We are not certain if this is the right time for an alien contact. In fact, we have concluded that there is never a proper time for such a thing as an alien contact. However, the fact that they are there, and we know it, should determine us to increase all our efforts towards unity, for a stronger development in research and technology.
     For our Civilization, everything is fine, nice, even innocent, until we are faced with contacting an alien Civilization. That could be a good thing, or it may be a bad one, each with a fifty, fifty chance of success. However, to us, fifty percent chance of a bad alien contact is not acceptable.
     Before anything, we need to consider the impact on the general population, and the disruptions that could appear in our social and economic life. It may be that some things we have treasured until now could lose their value overnight, while others less important could increase exponentially—”
     “You two see everything in black! Don’t you understand? It is wonderful to study alien beings and their struggle for Civilization. Maybe they need us to free them from slavery, from exploitation, from religious ignorance, or to help them fight incurable diseases,” pleaded the Princes enthusiastically.
     Dar’Raen replied in a caring voice, “No, Princess, I am almost certain the Emperor, the General Council of Scientists, and the Governors will never approve the contact with an alien Civilization because the changes are too radical. Think, Princess, as a minimum risk there is the possibility that an alien virus may contaminate an entire System of ours.
     Now, contact or not, the problem is still there. We could continue to monitor for a proper behavior, during the next one hundred Obar years, those alien Civilizations having lower development levels. As for the one or more alien Civilizations much superior to us, that requires that we unite all our efforts to accelerate at maximum our research and development activity. On Aggrea, we believe we are already engaged in a time race: the most important one ever!
     What do you say, Sir? Will you help us?”
     The Emperor replied in a sad voice, “I am afraid, Dar’Raen, there is no way I could help you, my son—”
     “Daddy!” exclaimed Shalle in a shocked attitude.
     “Please, My Dear, do not interrupt me. You see, Dar’Raen, I am an old man, and my only wish is to see my daughter married, to leave her and her husband to rule. They are going to do all those wonderful things you have just mentioned.
     I have had enough of reigning. Frankly, you have no idea, my son, how hard it is to be permanently harassed with those ‘duties to the Empire’. I want a piece of my life just for myself . . . the last of it,” said the Emperor, then he turned towards Shalle, and added, “Ah, I just remembered something; could you, please, leave us alone for a few moments, My Dear?”
     Shalle replied perplexed, “Daddy, how can you ask me to leave? You have promised I shall be present—”
     “Sweetie, there are a few things that need to be discussed between men. Please understand, My Dear.”



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