Jan 25, 2020 6:58 AM
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"So that's something, at least. Are there other Barrayaran stigmas I should be aware of?"

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"You might find some people surprised to see you in a position of power because you're a woman. That one... has also been getting better."

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"Surprised in what way, exactly?"

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"...I find myself at a loss to explain, but I think I know who to introduce you to for a better-articulated view into Barrayaran culture. How would you feel about visiting the planet? For that, and potentially to speak with Gregor about your options, if you decide to settle in Barrayaran space."

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"I think I'd like to visit the planet, as long as I can ensure my fleet's well taken care of while I'm gone. And... Gregor? Who is Gregor?"

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"Oh. The Emperor of Barrayar."

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... Her body language subtly changes a little. More wariness, now.

"Ah. I see. And what is he like?"

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"...Reserved. Responsible. Very good at his job. For a more detailed analysis, you might ask my wife, the proposed consultant on Barrayaran culture."

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"Very well," says Lord Callida.

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"Is there anything else you'd like to discuss before I return to my ship? The offer of immediate assistance I made to Lord Nekros still stands, if your assessment of your fleet's situation differs from his."

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"I still need time to properly assess my fleet to see if it has everything it requires. We're not in any immediate danger, and don't desperately need anything, but I don't yet know of any underlying necessities we might be missing. But thank you, I'll keep that in mind."

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He nods. "I'd like you to have as much time as you need to think over your options. Let me know when you'd like to visit Barrayar."

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"Thank you. It shouldn't take longer than a week or two to give you a better answer."

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"Well, that seems to be everything. Thank you for meeting with me, and I hope we can keep having better diplomatic overtures than Nekros ever intended."

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"I hope so too."

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She smiles just a little, stands, and bows politely.

And then he can be escorted back to his shuttle, to go tell his people that they don't need to blow up Callida's fleet. Or whatever else he'd like to do.

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Well, that is definitely one of the things he does. Another of the things he does is send Cordelia a message inquiring about her willingness to receive diplomatic visits.

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Her willingness to receive diplomatic visits is high. She'll need to know everything there is to know about the situation, of course.

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Of course.

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Callida is also willing to receive diplomatic visits, especially for technological collaboration. Despite this, she keeps a very firm hand on any and all secrets involving hyperspace; this includes hyperwave transmissions. The time delay from lightspeed is officially 'An unfortunate but necessary precaution.' Callida has Kyrell explain the reason why for this, which Kyrell does. Hyperwave communication is just the same principle, but only applied to transmissions, and if taught, would open the way to hyperdrives in the future. Perhaps in a few years after a lot of development, but Callida is thorough.

(And also hyperwave communication is as impossible as travelling by hyperdrive, as a quiet and subtle test proves. The progress on fixing hyper-anything goes the same as it has since they arrived, in that it does not.)

If Callida were an ordinary Sith, she could leave to do whatever she liked immediately and her fleet would handle itself well enough without her. But as it is, her standards of 'well enough' are significantly higher. As such, she will make sure that everything will actually be taken care of, and that everything actually has everything it needs to function properly. At first, her subordinates are, at best, nervous about having a Sith to personally make sure that everything is well taken care of. At worst, they're preparing to clean up the messes she'll inevitably make of their command structure.

Except she doesn't make a mess of their command structure. Or of - anything, actually. She locates competent people, gathers them nearby, and listens to them when they talk. With occasional gentle prompting when they are afraid to speak their minds. Bad news does not go hand in hand with punishment; finding problems is rewarded, as is solving them, and that's that. She enacts neat and logical policies, such as helping to create an even more streamlined and comprehensive system of recycling waste materials than the one already Imperial standard, or a census on every member of the fleet and their capabilities and anything they might require. Then, most shockingly, they start getting them. The sixteen zabraks in the fleet get special rations that are specially designed for a carnivorous species, the cyborgs are given personal screenings for the specifics of their upgrades and neat applications for specific chemicals, metals, equipment requisitions, or upgrades they might require in the future. Callida makes it clear that she takes care of her people, and that since they are all her people, they will be taken care of.

It would be an exaggeration to say that she is adored within two weeks. Sith Imperials don't really adore their superiors. However, after one week in charge, a vast and impressive majority of the Imperials present are very, very glad that Lord Callida is the Sith that they were stuck with. After two, a more modest majority is glad that they have Callida instead of no Sith at all; she makes power structures very simple, preventing infighting, while providing no loss of competence. This is, in many ways, how most of them think the Sith Empire should actually work, instead of the structure they're accustomed to.

After three, she's willing to venture away from her fleet. Barrayar has its kolto and bacta samples, would it also like a Sith lord and a modest escort?

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Barrayar would be pleased to receive a Sith lord and her modest escort. Their shuttle can dock at the orbital transfer station, and then the party will be met at the spaceport by an officer assigned to show them to their choice of guest accomodations - in the Imperial Residence, in any of a number of hotels, or in a picturesque manor a short distance outside the city.

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The Imperial Residence gets a gentle and very diplomatic no, something about not wanting to impose. Hotels are - possible, but Callida would like to avoid too much unwanted interaction with locals, and a hotel implies quite a lot of that. What's the manor like?

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Their guide has some holos of the manor! It's quiet and out of the way and pretty in a very Barrayaran style. Historically it's been the sort of place where a second son of the Emperor might live, but there hasn't been a second son of the Emperor in several decades so it's mostly been hosting dust bunnies and educational tours; this wouldn't be the first time it's been put to use as accomodations for a sufficiently important foreign dignitary.

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Callida feels like she is missing so much subtext here, but if it's not being used at the moment and it's being used occasionally as accommodations for foreign dignitaries... Yeah okay. That one.

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