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Traveller: Session 47

 


This session was run on November 2, 2023.

Like Session 35, which also featured Adair's adventures in negotiations, I had players take the roles of the other parties in the negotiation since their regular characters were not present. I will be using this model for the sessions featuring the archdukes because the physics of space travel in the Traveller universe make it impossible for the players to react to each others' actions in a time frame that makes sense in a session.

For this session, Adair, Akoaft, and Kaiear are played by players.

128-1118

After having docked with the Nekrino highport in Tobia/Trojan Reach, Adair and First Counselor Dunn set out to find Fleet Admiral Tranathiaf, Norris's military commander for the rimward border. Tranathiaf explained that he was managing the Aslan border pressure with a three-point-plan:

1)       Containment: While the policy has been to keep the ihatei from crossing the border, Norris has authorized him, for purposes of these negotiations, to allow Aslan settlements within five parsecs of the border. Tranathiaf is blunt with Adair, he does not have the resources to actually defend the border from a concerted Aslan incursion and there is not going to be any reinforcement with the current political situation in the Imperium.

2)       Fleet Action: It is far easier to turn the ihatei away while they are still in their ships than it is to remove them by force once they have set up a colony on a planet, so this is where Tranathiaf has focused his resources. It helps that the ihatei are rarely traveling with real warships, so the outcome of any confrontation is predictable and violence is easily avoided. Unfortunately, he does not have the resources to defend the whole border this way and small groups of ihatei have been slipping through.

3)       Negotiation: He hopes that Adair will be able to convince the Aslan that the Peace of Ftahalr applies to this border. This is a historical treaty between the Imperium and the Hierate that ended the Border Wars on the border regions far to rimward. The issue with this is that the Aslan do not see themselves as a single political entity and may view the treaty as having been signed by the 29 Prominent Clans, many of whom are not involved in the current border dispute. They may also not see it as applying to this border as there was no dispute here at the time it was signed.

While Adair and Tranathiaf were meeting, the Aslan delegation was preparing for the start of negotiations. The four members of the delegation were:

Akoaft Yerlaruwo: She was the aikoho earleatris of the ihatei fleet seeking to claim land in the Imperium controlled subsectors of the Trojan Reach. This role made her the arbiter of which ships would be permitted to land and set up colonies on which planets. It was her duty to assign the ships based on the status of their owners. As an earleatris, she was a natural arbitrator and assumed that she would be running the negotiations and arbitrating between the imperial negotiator and Kaier, the Aslan negotiator. She was from an ancient and powerful clan, one of the most respected in the Hierate. She had been one of Ambassador Yerlaruwo's mates before he was killed during Dulinor's assassination of Emperor Strephon.

Kaiear Tlaiowaha: She was the senior negotiator for the Aslan. Her clan is renowned throughout the Hierate for its ability to settle differences without resorting to violence. She understood that she had a steep challenge ahead of her since it would be difficult to convince the Imperium to allow the full 400 ships of the ihatei fleet to claim land in their borders, especially when it was expected that the settlements would lead to 150 million Aslan entering or being born in the Imperium over the next twenty years. Her clan had also ordered her to stress the danger that the Glorious Empire presented to the Imperium.

The Glorious Empire was a splinter group of Aslan that did not follow the cultural codes of the Hierate. During the Cultural Purge several centuries ago, groups of Aslan that refused to adopt to the code were either ejected from the Hierate or exterminated in clan wars. The Glorious Empire was populated with the descendants of one such group. The Empire practiced slavery, ate other sentient beings, and other things prohibited in the Hierate. Like the Hierate, the Glorious Empire was straining at its borders and needed territory for their unlanded males to claim. There had been increasing conflicts between the Empire and the Hierate over the last few years and she hoped that they might find common ground for an alliance with the Imperium on this issue. She had considered how to raise this issue without insinuating that the Imperium was either ignorant or too weak and decided that it was best to let the imperial negotiator bring up the Glorious Empire and take that opportunity to discuss it. She personally looked forward to meeting the imperial negotiator since her title of archduke indicated that she was from a powerful clan in the Imperium.

Tlankhu Syosius: He was the designated duelist for the negotiation. The Hierate recognized that humans do not have the same tradition of dueling as the Aslan, and there was concern that, as a female, Archduke Adair would not be prepared to duel Kaier should insult be offered that demanded satisfaction. He assumed that he would be dueling Fleet Admiral Tranathiaf. As the third son in a minor pride of his clan, he was unlikely to be granted land unless he could distinguish himself. He feared that he had only been given this position because of his clan's status. While he had performed well in a few honor duels, he had never participated in actual combat.

Wafoua Tralyeaeawi: He was Tlankhu's second. There was significant tension between his clan and the Yerlaruwo clan dating back to the Cultural Purge. While this worked against his relationship with Akoaft, there was hope that his clan's history of liberalism and significant number of non-Aslan members would be recognized by the imperial negotiators and set them at ease.

Adair kicked off the negotiations by introducing the members of the imperial delegation. He concluded his opening remarks by offering his condolences to the Aslan for the death of Ambassador Yerlaruwo and explained that he had been present and saw him throw himself in front of the princess. Adair also explained his role as the arbitrator of the ceasefire between Duke Norris and Duchess Delphine.

As Akoaft learned about Adair's role in the ceasefire, she was surprised that the archduke saw herself as both a negotiator and an arbitrator. She decided not to assert her role as arbitrator of these negotiations to avoid giving insult. Likewise, as the Aslan introduced themselves, the humans were surprised to learn that Akoaft had been the ambassador's mate. They were also confused by the inclusion of a duelist and a second, but chalked it up to Aslan tradition.

Kaier submitted their request that the ihatei be allowed to settle on open land on any planet as deep into the Imperium territory as a line running through the far side of the Glisten and Kamlar subsectors.

Adair replied that this was much further than expected and more concession than he was prepared to make in this meeting. He though it would be best to focus on a shorter-term plan lasting 20 years and then review again at that time to see if more territory was needed.

Kaeir countered that the ihatei would be a benefit to the worlds they settled on. They would become imperial citizens, pay taxes, and share in the defense of those systems.

Adair and Tranathiaf were both happy to hear that the ihatei were willing to become citizens, as this was in keeping with the way Aslan allowed to settle under the Peace of Ftahalr were handled. This could also be used to counter conservative elements in the region that would object to Aslan settlers on the basis that the Hierate would be moving their borders inside the Imperium's borders, a common conspiracy theory.

Adair put forward the idea that the Aslan and the Imperium could cooperate to bring some of the unaligned sectors in the border region into the Imperium and the Aslan could be allowed to settle on those planets. Kaiear explained that this was not a possible solution since the Aslan had already been settling in the unaligned worlds and had reached the limit of what those worlds were willing to absorb.

As negotiations had been going on for several hours, they decided to declare that the first day had been successful and that they had reached agreement in principle that any ihatei settling in the Imperium as part of this agreement would become citizens.

That evening, Adair, Tranathiaf, and Dunn met to strategize for the next day. Adair still wanted to push the idea that at least some of the ihatei could be absorbed into the border regions by convincing those systems to enter the Imperium. Dunn though that, while the Aslan seemed to think that those systems had reached their settler limit, they might be convinced to accept more once they were in the Imperium in return for economic concessions. Tranathiaf was skeptical of the likelihood of convincing the border systems to join the Imperium. The residents of those sectors were notoriously independent and had been offered opportunities to join in the past. He also pointed out that the Imperium had not been doing a great job selling itself for the last two years.

The admiral did think that he might be able to relax the five parsec limit Norris had authorized for settlement. The agreement that the Aslan would become imperial citizens and contribute to the defense of the Imperium made him feel that he could justify allowing expansion into the full depth of the border subsectors. They decided to still try for the expansion plan, but to be prepared to offer the higher level of settlement authority.

129-1118

In the morning, Akoaft and Kaiear woke to find that Tlankhu was missing. The duelist failed to appear for their pre-negotiation meeting. The two female Aslan went to his room and found no evidence of a struggle, but his computer and weapons were missing.

Deciding that Tlankhu himself was the risk, and that they had little chance of locating him in the strange station without help, they decided to inform the imperials in the meeting.

Akoaft informed Adair before negotiations even started and asked for his help locating Tlankhu. They expressed their concern that he might intend to do something that would dishonor himself and the mission.

After a brief discussion with Tranathiaf and Dunn, Adair decided that it would be best to engage security in finding the missing Aslan, but not yet raise a general alarm. He tasked the admiral with coordinating the search.

After assuring the two female Aslan that, if Tlankhu was still on the station, his me would find him, they resumed discussing the issue of what systems the ihatei would be permitted to settle in.

Adair picked up where he left off by once again raising the issue of settling in the border regions. Kaier reiterated her position that there was little land available in those systems. She also made the point that the wider spread the ihatei were, the longer it would take before they began to run out of space on the planets they settled on and came into conflict with the human populations.

Adair agreed that was a valid point and mentioned that he would like to limit the expansion question to their needs in the next twenty years. As the discussion turned to the merits of the systems adjacent to the border, Dunn got Adair's attention and told him that security had located and apprehended Tlankhu. They found him in one of the hangar decks wiring it with explosives. She told him that security believed that he would have succeeded if they found him a few minutes later.

Adair began filling in Kaiear and Akoaft when Dunn interrupted him again. One hundred and fifty Aslan ships had just dropped out of jumpspace. Adair turned to Kaiear and she told them that they had no knowledge of this, the ihatei fleet they represented was still in the Hierate as far as they knew.

Kaiear asked Adair if they could see the sensor information on the ships and he agreed. She quickly identified them as Glorious Empire ships.

At this point, Admiral Tranathiaf returned and informed Adair that they would have to flee. There was only one squadron, twelve ships, allocated for the defense of the system, and they could not hope to defeat a fleet of this size.

As there was little time before the Aslan fleet's weapons would be able to target the high port, Adair and his companions ran for their ship. They arranged to meet the Aslan delegation on Saurus to continue the negotiations.

As his ship headed for the jump point, Adair watched in dismay as the Aslan ships began dismantling the high port with missiles and energy weapons.

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