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Chapter 2[]

Random Events (Nebula California) - Take 2[]

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Throne Room
Wellman Castle, Kingdom of Everything
Toreel, Nebula California
3rd February, 3153
Local Evening

Daniel's perspective

Kevin seemed ordinary enough to Daniel. On the older side and slightly overweight but his dark-turning gray hair and fair complexion signified him as normal human.

Which was welcome from all the other oddities around the castle. More Elves, what would be best described as Dwarves, and what must be Halflings or possibly Gnomes. There were humans here and there as well but not enough to keep Daniel from feeling something was amiss.

"Welcome. Daniel is it? You can call me Kevin. I may be King here but I prefer to keep things informal." Kevin's deep voice bellowed through the room.

"Yes. Thank you for granting us refuge. I have questions." Daniel wasn't sure if he was overstepping or not but he needed to know some things.

"Yeah this place is a little odd. Don't stress the whole bend the knee thing too much. That's more for the locals than me. I would prefer to call it rent instead of taxes but again that's for the locals." Kevin got off his throne and walked up to Daniel.

"So this rent." Daniel knew the trust building process would take time before he could get all the real answers he wanted.

"Until you get trade going I'll take a tech or two if you have them to spare to give my Royal Guard mechs a much needed overhaul." Kevin was still obviously being coy.

"Which brings up the matter of our borders." Daniel looked down at the man.

"North of the river is mine. The woods to your West belong to a friend. Beyond the river fork to your East belong to another friend. To your south is unclaimed." Kevin still seemed evasive.

"Hence why we have no defined Southern border and with your Mechs needing overhaul why we are largely on our own for our protection." Daniel nodded.

"Yup." Kevin's smile didn't sit right with Daniel.

"When we do establish trade what will our rent be?" Daniel realized the oversight on his part.

"20 pounds of gold a month with how good of farmland you're getting." Kevin's smile still hinted at there being more he was not saying.

"I think we have a deal."

Conference room
Dropship Blue Wind
Colony zone

a small craft ferry plus change later

"There's definitely a lot to this world we still don't know and this Kevin is not sharing much." Daniel looked at the gathered leaders.

"The rent and security arrangement still seem too good to be true." Fezik added quietly.

"With what he shared I think it entirely likely he's using us to plug a hole in his lines against a rival." Daniel sighed.

"That would track. In tilling up the ground for cropland we've found evidence of mass graves. Not very old ones either." Alice was obviously still in shock about that discovery.

"Maybe we should consider finding somewhere else then?" Gilly's confusion was evident.

"We don't have enough supplies left to go far. Besides I think the others are tired of all this packing up and moving. Even if it means we have to fight for our new home." Gavin shook his head.

"If the graves are not very old then it is likely that we won't be bothered by Kevin's rival for some time but we should be watchful. The ground is good, sun won't kill us, and Gavin is right. I don't think the others have another move left in them with all that working against it. Perhaps when we meet our neighbors we will get some more answers from them. Let's bring the rest down and start making a home for ourselves." Daniel saw the last of Gilly's objections melt away.

As Daniel went to his room he couldn't help but think why Gilly's stance had changed so much from before.

Not everyone had come with them, deciding to take their chances with whoever showed up to chase them off their previous attempt at a colony. Gilly almost stayed with them. When it was indeed revealed to be a Clan Wolf force searching for those that had fled their justice it did not take long before they realized their mistake. Their pleas over the radio for them to come back and save them still haunted everyone here in some way but it obviously troubled Gilly the most.

But going back and saving them would mean almost certainly dooming just over 400 people for the sake of 200.

It was a cold calculus but one that had to be made.

When he entered his room he saw a dinner plate waiting for him. Hydroponically grown green beans and an soy/algae protein patty. He'd be glad to be off ship born food.

As he ate he looked through the reports that had gathered up for his review now that the others had elected him their overall leader and emissary.

He had no one to blame but himself. He knew how to read people and what actions to take, or not take as the situation demanded, to achieve his goals. Which is what got him in with these people in the first place.

The consequence of it was now he'd have to put in the work.

Next morning

Daniel rose from bed and just got to the shower as his communicator beeped.

"Yes." Daniel said as he continued disrobing.

"We have our first visitor. One Elena Reedback from the land to our west." An unfamiliar voice announced.

"Give me 20 and offer her a breakfast meeting in the conference room." Daniel wondered if the visitor would be offended by their poor fare.

"Yes sir." The voice answered.

Conference room
A shower later

The young woman across from him wasn't quite Elf. Her ears were less pronounced and her eyes far more normal but she still had a lithe build and seemed very aware of her surroundings.

"Elena is it? Welcome to what will eventually be our settlement." Daniel looked at the powdered eggs, toast, and soy with ham flavor steak that was their breakfast.

"Thank you. Mom told me stories of how she and Uncle Kevin would travel in contraptions such as these exploring space." Elena smiled as she chanted something waving her hand over her meal.

"I suppose that makes sense. There can't have been too many people on that Interstellar Expeditions mission that wound up here. Some would wind up intermingling with the locals." Daniel muttered as he reached for his coffee.

"Dad was a little shocked at first when they showed up but when my mother and her friends cleaned out a Goblin tribe for him he was more than happy to support Uncle Kevin in his bid to establish a Kingdom." Elena seemed to be having no trouble stomaching her food.

Daniel found himself envying the young woman as his meal seemed particularly foul this morning.

"So how many of the original expedition are left, do you know?" Daniel sensed he could get some information from this one.

"Maybe a dozen or so. Uncle Kevin got most of them to follow him. The others didn't fare very well." Elena again made the same chant and gestures over her coffee.

"Considering it has been almost 50 years that does seem remarkable. How is your mother? I'd love to meet her." Daniel poked for an opening.

"Died from something called 'cancer' twenty years ago." Elena didn't miss a beat.

"I'm sorry for bringing up such a bad childhood memory." Daniel felt like a jerk.

"Wow. Uncle Kevin didn't explain some things at all did he? I'll be 45 this fall." Elena's face full of surprise.

Daniel wasn't sure what to make of this. He had heard stories of how on Terra before the Amaris Coup it was possible for people to live to be 200 and wait until their 70s or 80s to have children.

That this world had that capability was another indication that the upsides would outweigh the downsides for staying on this world.
"Daniel?" Elena brought Daniel back into focus.

"Apologies. I guess I must seem some unsophisticated hick to you." Daniel started worrying he was out of his depth.

"Mom taught me about where she came from and how things were like for her. So I try not to judge." Elena smiled.

"That is something I will have to work on." Daniel forced down another bite of powdered egg.

"Unfortunately I think I need to get down to business. Dad welcomes you and as long as you respect his lands he'll respect yours. Try and respect nature too eh? That's important to my Dad too." Elena's face became serious.

"I take it our meeting has gone on longer than anticipated and you need to get back?" Daniel answered.

"Unfortunately yes. Thank you for breakfast. It was interesting to say the least." Elena stood and exited the conference room.

Daniel looked at her half finished meal.

He was too curious and took a bite of her eggs. They tasted like real eggs. The soy ham tasted like real ham. The coffee? He didn't recognize the flavor but it was worlds better than what was in his mug. If it were not for the texture he'd swear it was all the real stuff, not the shipboard crap he'd been forced to tolerate for nearly a year now.

What was going on here? he thought.

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