The Third Diplomatic Gathering

The room was spacious, lit with a white glow which seemed to seep through the walls. Around a circular central podium were arrayed tiered benches on a pitched floor, ten ranks deep. They were quite full, not just with state officials and other influential individuals, but their escorts as well, armed and uncomfortably on-edge.
This was not a typical Gathering.
Directly to the left of the main entrance sat the emissaries of the planet of Urašir, with Assu-ur Udre-inul, the Second Planetary President. Around him sat others of Urašir's officials; to his right were seated the People's Representative and the Head of Agriculture, to his left the Secretary of Defense, the M.F.E, and the H.R.D. In the rows directly behind and before them sat armed guards, their cold eyes glaring methodically around the room.
Next in line was the planet of Albašu, its seats positioned higher than the rest. There, right in the centre, opposite the entrance, sat the President of the homeworld himself: Duragiš Uren. The late First President's only son.
His heir.
The Grand President was not usually supposed to be present at a Gathering, but this occasion was obviously not usual.
Most numerous were the Albašu entourage's assigned guards. They seemed to be itching for a fight. They were certainly armed to the teeth.
To the right were the governments of Urur and Ešteš. These had smaller and less threatening escorts. Urur and Ešteš, being the least developed of the four worlds, had little influence in the Gatherings, limited almost solely to reporting on their situation and trying to make it sound a little less serious.
An uneasy murmur of voices wafted around the room. The Gathering has not yet begun; some emissaries were only just arriving. Assu-ur shifted his gaze slowly and hesitantly to look towards the Albašu government. His eyes were met only by the steely and calculating glare of the homeworld's own Secretary of Defense. Su-ursu Edeg was his name. He spoke little, obviously preferring to keep his thoughts to himself, and sat a little away from the main body of officials.
Assu-ur stood his ground in the brief staring contest, trying to glean what the other was thinking. He knew little about Edeg; his agents were precious few, and anyways most had been dedicated to keeping his head and his neck unseparated in the past two months.
Two months since the death of the First President and already everything was showing signs of wear and tear.
The regime had been a lie, and a fiasco. Its unforgivable failures in attaining peace, bettering the lives of citizens, progressing forward as a nation had been carefully masked, any shred of dark light cast upon its otherwise "pearly" complexion stamped out mercilessly. Every speck of evidence against the greatness of the First Revolution gone. Nothing about the lives lost in thirty years of war, nothing about the economical crisis that had caused, nothing about the crumbling stability, only venomous spitting at the constant terror attacks carried out by monarchist insurgents whose actions, in all probability, hadn't actually damaged a single innocent bystander.
Thirty years of war!
And the sudden disappearance of Urešet Durungiš, which had sparked all of that.
But of course nobody asked what had happened to the Durungiš. Everybody knew. To some extent, at least, everybody suspected.
But nobody wanted to speak up.
Not until Assu-ur himself had done it, and even he had waited a full month, arranging copious amounts of meetings, carefully gathering information, talking it through with those he trusted, and only presenting his course of action to the rest of Urašir's brass when all the pieces were in place, and he himself was absolutely sure.
The speech had been painstakingly prepared. Condolences for the death. But nothing about it being a tragedy, like Urur or Albašu had done. A little about the changes that would perhaps take place. Then had come the kicker.
In the past, we did not have freedom. In these times, we have been robbed of it. Now, we must decide on something greater.
Assu-ur shuddered. Ah, but spouting such heretical notions had felt good, possible death sentence or no. He broke his gaze away from Edeg subconsciously as the doors slid open, the last nervous politician rushing in on quiet feet.
The hall fell silent. The Planetary President of Albašu stood slowly. His finger slid over one of the many dark patches on his tall bench, and, his voice now magnified, he began:
"I welcome all representatives to this Diplomatic Gathering."
"We thank you for your welcome." the response flowed through the hall.
Uren paused for a moment, his gaze flowing over the room. His eyes stopped on Assu-ur for a heartbeat before continuing on.
"We have much to discuss."

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