This session was run on July 6, 2023.
Following a day of rest after arrival in Regina, Adair opened negotiations with Duchess Delphine of the Spinward Marches. The purpose of the negotiations was to 1) secure a ceasefire between Delphine and Norris, and 2) settle who would rule the newly created Domain of Deneb. The disagreement started over a year ago when Emperor Strephon created the Domain of Deneb and promoted Duke Norris shortly before his assassination. Before news of his appointment could reach him, Emperor Lucan issued a proclamation giving Duchess Delphine command of the domain and raising her to archduchess. As the proclamations were only a few days apart, news reached of each had reached the two ducal powers within days of each other. Confusion rapidly degraded into violence. When Vargr raiders took advantage of the civil war in the Imperium and invaded Corridor Sector, Norris was unable to adequately commit his forces because of his ongoing fight with Delphine. Adair hoped to settle the matter once and for all so Corridor could be reclaimed and the regions behind the claw could reestablish connection with the rest of the Imperium.
The attendees were:
Duchess Delphine of the Spinward Marches: She commanded the Spinward Marches and had been appointed Archduchess of the Domain of Deneb by Emperor Lucan. She had reigned as Duchess for many years, but had suffered humiliation during the Fifth Frontier War when Duke Norris showed up her military’s ability to repel the invasion by the Outworld Coalition (Zhodani, Sword Worlds, and Vargr).
Branj Dilgaadin: Duke Norris’s right-hand man. Norris gave him instructions on his wishes and empowered him to negotiate on his behalf.
Archduke Adair of the Domain of Sol: Adair had been the sole archduke to support Emperor Lucan’s ascension to the Iridium Throne following Emperor Strephon’s assassination by Archduke Dulinor in 1116. The emperor tasked him with resolving the dispute between Norris and Delphine. While Lucan wants Norris to join his side, Adair will just be happy with a united domain. He has grown skeptical of Lucan, especially after news that his Vengeance Fleet was razing worlds spread.
Lady Krystal Lumen: Duchess Delphine’s grandniece and the head of Regina Intelligence.
Admiral Santanocheev: Commander of Duchess Delphine’s fleets. Santanocheev has not forgiven Norris for making a fool out of him during the Fifth Frontier War. The popular version of events is that Santanocheev failed to defend against the initial Zhodani advance due to a lack of initiative and imagination. From his point of view, Norris benefited from his bloody fighting withdraws that made the Zhodani pay dearly for each system until the resources to turn the tide became available. He is now staring down the barrel of further humiliation as Norris has managed to contain his attack even while fighting the Vargr in Corridor at the same time. He hopes to find a war before the duchess loses confidence in him.
First Counselor Dunn: She was Emperor Lucan’s right-hand woman, and she was severely injured during his assassination. Claiming that her duty is to Humaniti as a whole, and not any individual claimant to a throne, she has accompanied Adair to heal the rift in the Domain of Deneb. Adair has his suspicions about her, due to her deceiving him into thinking that she was going with Archduke Tranian, but she has proven useful and wise.
The negotiations kicked off with introductions in the Great Hall of Regina. After only a few minutes, Delphine interrupted the proceedings claiming that she had been subject to a psionic attack. Lumen quickly escorted her out of the chambers and the guards closed in.
They reconvened a few hours later without the duchess. Lumen apologized and told the assembled representatives that the source of the attack was Anjan, a member of the duchess’s own guard. Fortunately, the duchess was not injured and would rejoin them in the morning. She explained that she had been authorized to offer a complete ceasefire for the duration of the negotiations. She also told them that Anjan had been “liquidated”. Branj agreed and they adjourned for the day.
They met in the Great Hall again in the morning. Adair and the Deneb contingent were surprised to see Lumen arrive wearing a strange helmet. While she did not share this with the others, Lumen believed that this helmet would block psionic attacks. She tried to convince the duchess to wear it, but she refused.
Adair started the negotiations by taking notice that there had been two claims and explaining that he did not intend to invalidate either of them. He expected the two ducal powers to reach a solution that would preserve imperial power in the domain and was willing mediate the discussions. He emphasized that he expected Delphine and Norris’s representative to solve the problem.
Duchess Delphine opened with an offer to step aside as archduchess if Norris agreed to marry Krystal Lumen. Branj countered that Norris had specifically instructed him that he was not authorized to accept offers of marriage as part of a solution. Adair pressed hard for reconsideration of this, as it seemed to be an almost complete victory for Norris, but Branj held firm.
Following the rejection of this offer, the discussion got heated, especially Admiral Santanocheev. Norris had advised Branj and Lumen to hold private discussions and come up with a framework for an agreement. While those two met in private, Adair calmed the admiral by telling him that, given the scope of the duchess’s original proposal, he was sure an agreement could be reached.
After a few hours, Lumen and Branj returned with a proposal. They laid out a framework where Delphine would be the archduchess for three years. During this time there would be a power sharing agreement where she would appoint a Duke of Peace while Norris served as Duke of war. There would also be an independent Duke of Finance. At the end of the three-year period, if a suitable marriage partner could be found for Krystal Lumen, she would retire, and Norris would become archduke. In the interim, there would be an exchange of hostages.
Delphine agreed to this, in principle, and Adair decided that it was workable from an imperial perspective. Branj and Lumen would continue to work out the details and then travel to Deneb to get Norris’s signature.
With the seeming success of negotiations, Delphine requested that Adair travel to Nekrino in the Tobia subsector of Trojan Reach and negotiate with the Aslan. The Aslan had taken advantage of the apparent weakening of the Imperium due to the civil war, and the triple distraction of the war between Norris and Delphine, the Vargr incursions, and the disruption on the Zhodani border, and increased the number of Ihatei seizing territory in the rimward areas of Deneb and the Spinward Marches. With Branj’s permission as Norris’s delegate, Adair was empowered to serve as the representative of both ducal powers in these negotiations. Adair began another long interstellar voyage.