The island of Rael had been settled a little over 200 years ago by a group of “medievalists”, people who were convinced that the sixteenth century in Europe had been the height of man’s glory to date, with a fine mix of science, art and practical religion. To this end they had purchased a beautiful little island in the middle of the Mediterranean and proceeded to sever almost all ties with the rest of the planet as they shaped their private utopia. Efforts to avoid modern life were aided by the peculiar make-up of their new home. The volcanic activity that had created the island in far distant eons had coughed up an iron-laced mineral that generated a natural magnetic screen against electronics and communications. There was speculation amongst the global scientific community that it had also played merry havoc on the brains of some of the children born there, enhancing them in a way that seemed very similar to SPARCs.
This was the main reason Delta Squadron was chosen to do the job. As GloSec’s most touted team, due to their supposed SPARC-driven abilities and training, it was thought the team would combine the best of all duties – demonstration of modern science, security without intrusive manpower, and a vested interest in getting what information they could from the Raelan scientists to compare with the SPARC theorists. Combined with the fact they were available, and Dr. Janson wanted them off the base and out of his hair for a while, and the choice was easy. Finishing the treaty process, however, was proving to be somewhat less straightforward than Delta Squad had been led to believe.
Rael was a monarchy (albeit a constitutional one) and King Beaumon was all for the treaty. His land was caught between it's 16th century appearance and the technology of the modern world. Castles and space craft. Beaumon was clearly looking to improve his country's standing in the planetary hierarchy (along with its defenses) without losing the culture of his people. The United League of Earth was sure it could help. Some of the King's Council were equally sure their culture was doomed by the treaty. The King had put his royal foot down and so here they were getting through the last days of the process.
Brent couldn't get off this wreck too soon, and Pietro would be just as glad to move on. Nothing on the island had held either of their interests after the first few days and the Delta Squad demos they'd given. Kat and Ryan had been doing the last of the diplomatic work and soothing ruffled Council feathers, something Kat was surprisingly good at. Anieka, who should have been chomping at the bit to get back to her computers, was instead having far too much fun getting ready for the final evening's activity: the royal ball, in honor of the treaty to be signed at noon the next day. In the entire two weeks they had been in Rael no one had been sure just what Ania was up to when she disappeared for hours a day. The fact that Duke Alain Tyrel, one of the highest ranking nobles and in firm opposition of the treaty, disappeared for many of those same hours was never noticed.
“My lady, I trust that the seamstresses I sent you have performed their duties?” Anieka looked up as Duke Tyrel paced towards her on the garden path. The schematic she had been scanning became very uninteresting as he sat on the other half of the bench, a proper foot of space between them. From several feet away they were blandly observed by Tyrel’s manservant, who guarded these daily chats form casual observers. Ania nodded in response to the question.
“To tell the truth, I’m afraid to wear that dress. I don’t know how I’m going to pull off all those skirts and puffs and everything.” Ania blushed lightly under Tyrel’s attention, although it was mostly lost in her dark complexion. “ ‘Graceful swan’ or not, you’re going to see the clumsy side of me, I’m sure…”
“Nonsense, my dear lady. I have every good faith that you shall not only do justice to my fancies, but shall turn all but the blindest eye when you grace us tomorrow eve. I only pray that you will promise me but one dance before the night ends. It is the only payment I will take for the gown.” With practiced grace Tyrel lifted her unresisting hand and touched his lips to the very fingertips. A very proper, gentlemanly gesture that sent a nearly physical jolt through her. Anieka was about to swear there really were such things as souls, because the sensation seemed to go beyond her physical body.
Taking a deep, calming breath she smiled and withdrew her hand from his to clutch it protectively to her chest. “Sir, I would be honored.”