A dusting of snow lies on the just-frozen surface of the water garden. A bird flies across the surface, landing briefly in a display of all four of its wings before launching itself back into the air. The sky overhead continues to lighten, the weak, yellow sun occasionally breaking through the low cloud. I sit on the cold wood of the observation deck, a tea slowly cooling in its vacuum cup, the steam rising elegantly from its bowl. To be asked to sit here, to wait, is something of an honour and a test.
There is a sound like the tearing of paper behind me and I slowly turn to see Weran coming out form the door to the main complex. He is short for a Renonsian, only seven foot, but he has all the casual elegance of his species that always makes me feel inadequate to the light gravity of their moon. He clasps his forearms together in greeting, bowing slightly to expose his rear wings. Although they are not able to support any Renonsian in flight they are elegant, well-looked after, the feathers falling along his back in a short cascade of muted colours.
“Ambassador.” He says, in English. I understand their language well enough to be able to speak it flawlessly, the twenty year flight gave me plenty of time for study, but they always insist that dialogue be conducted in our tongue. None of the reasons that I have heard have convinced me why.
Behind Weran another Renonsian emerges, taller, dressed in the light armour of their warrior caste. Finally, I think. This is turning out to be a very interesting day.
I have seen many soldiers while I have been here. Although they nominally fall under the command of the civilian authority they conduct themselves with a disdain for any that are not of their caste. The civilian administration defers to them in a great deal, although there is a separation of concerns between economics and politics that has been proving particularly difficult to navigate.