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Shixia Provincial Government House, Aodi, Kodeshi State
May 29th, 1958

f he wasn’t out of place in Alvastadt, he was definitely out of place here.

To say tensions were high would be an understatement. Ten days ago, he’d been informed over the radio that there’d been a coup in the capital. That same day, the guns on the front fell silent. Five days ago, he’d been informed by his superior that he’d be on the next flight to Kodeshia to help oversee negotiations. He’d only just arrived yesterday afternoon at the regional airport to the sight of leery-eyed soldiers ready to grasp for their rifles. He didn’t get enough sleep; all he did was stare at the ceiling wondering if there were eyes staring at him from some unknown place or ears listening in to his group’s conversations.

Now he walked behind his superior, acting as a glorified porter. The parliament building was in an unremarkable condition given the circumstances; while the city itself was far away from the frontlines, it was certainly subject to scant Alvak bombing raids up until recently given its use as a logistics hub. Windows remained boarded up and walls were reinforced with sandbags. Positioned around the building were anti-air guns with their crew at ease. The civilian administration was nowhere to be seen; soldiers and officers roamed the grounds in their place. Walking up the steps, he felt helpless.

The Kodeshi officer out front spoke with hints of venom in his words.

His superior seemed almost robotic with his Guoyu.

The officer gestured towards the building. He didn’t understand anything, but at least he could understand the gestures.

The halls of the building were remarkably intact; it was easy to look at it all when the alternative was looking into the eyes of the enemy. The muted clatter of his and his group’s boots on the thoroughly dusted carpet drown out his racing thoughts. Soon enough, the officer stops outside an unassuming oak door, rapping his knuckles on it twice. There’s a brief period of rustling from behind the door accompanied by hurried whispers before a muffled voice responds. The doors creak open, revealing a well-furnished office; seated in the middle is a general, eyes weary and hands steady. Surrounding him are two officers standing at attention.

The general’s outstretched hand towards the seats in front of him indicated enough; he sat down to the right of him, the floorboards creaking as he stepped forwards. His superior gestured for the documents in his hands. He began to focus on odd things; suddenly having nothing to carry after the past few hours felt uncharacteristic of him, being the group’s porter. The idle thoughts ate away at his mind.

His superior broke the silence, handing the dossier over. As if a wire had snapped in his mind, he couldn’t think of anything else.

The negotiations had begun.

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