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Several hours later, a reply comes through from Abid Leechi, in the form of a heavily encrypted transmission relayed through the closest Alliance frigate.
The faint blue hologram of
Who was, incidentally, male, but is now retconned female...
Leechi was as true a recreation of her natural tone as was possible on a hologram. Dressed in a heavy, multilayered, two-toned coat of a feathery quality, the Umbaran bows her head slightly until her lips met her two hands, palm-to-palm, and adorned with many rings.
"A pleasure to meet you all again, I hope your endeavors go well."
When prompted, she gets right to the point.
"The Umbaran government is well-aware of Imperial activity in that sector, in fact, we facilitated the initial mission and the Empire continues to operate in that sector with our permission and in exchange for a repeating and lucrative sum. The location was chosen for it's...unique properties."
"Before I disclose any more, we need to come to an understanding. The Umbaran government is willing to support the new Alliance, however, if this facility, in our sector, is attacked, the Umbarans will face the might of the Empire as traitors. Umbara is an easy target, and we cannot survive a war of attrition with the Empire."
"We need a weapon of our own. The Umbaran government is prepared to extend our full allegiance to the Alliance in exchange for the ADAM prototype."
Tag leans forward and hits the mute. Then he turns to everyone else, his face deadly serious.
"I told you. This is how it's going to play out, from now until we get rid of that thing. Every planet, every government, every two-bit pilot with delusions of grandeur is going to try to get their hands on it, and they're not going to stop. Ever. Because controlling it means power over everything in the galaxy.
"We could play kingmaker, sure, but we'd only be starting the war to end all wars. And frankly, I'm not sure whether I'd rather see the Umbarans wiped out to get the prototype or every other power in the galaxy die trying to stop them from achieving domination. I know what I'd like to see most of all, which is that thing destroyed, but for some reason you all don't see this like I do. It's a fancy hobby, or some kind of a joke. Well, to me it's the kind of thing that makes me think about strapping it into a fighter and flying it straight into a sun.
"If you want to keep it, keep it. I can't fight all of you on this. But we can't give it to the Umbarans any more than we can give it to anyone else."
"Consider my interest piqued. Can someone explain what the ADAM prototype is?" Renk asks with thinnly veiled enthusiasm, "I mean, not that I want to be in the middle of some sort of galactical scrabble for it - I just want to know what it can do."
Dorat nods and says "I'm with Tag here. I just don't think that 'we'll help you if you give us the tool to destroy you all' is an agreeable deal. My first inclination would be to make a passable fraud and give them that. By the time they realize something is wrong they're already neck deep in empire."