[The DUCHESS OF ROSETTA waves a lacy fan nervously, the setting sun glittering off her voluminous gold and green brocade skirts as she gazes out the windows of her palace, watching the Royal Guard carrying out training exercises on the polo grounds. The Duchess is young, in her early twenties, and the product of some designer gene manipulation. Her curly blonde hair, sparkling green eyes, porcelain skin, and comely figure were all carefully chosen by her parents to be fitting for a regent. Footsteps echo off the marble tiles of the hallway, and a handsome, upright man approaches. BARON TETHYAM wears a gray and navy dress uniform, with polished brass buttons on his long coat, and an ornamental saber is sheathed on his hip. He stops five meters from the Duchess and addresses her with a formal bow.]

BT: Your Grace, may I trouble you for a moment of your time?

DR (sighs): Go ahead, Lord Tethyam. What troubles you?

BT: Two Ascendant entered orbit this morning. I think this time the Osirisians want blood.

DR: I am aware of the Ascendants, Tethyam. I am currently awaiting an emissary from their fleet. I assure you I shall not trouble you by requiring you to attend those negotiations. What is the real reason you have come to me?

BT: There is a soldier in my unit, Your Grace. I believe she has experienced the Word.

DR: A soldier? Isn’t that a rather late onset?

BT: She’s been hiding it, Your Grace.

DR: Ah, I see. Very well. Bring her to me. I will examine her. Is there anything else?

BT: Well, there is one thing, Your Grace.

DR: If you’re planning on proposing to me yet again, Tethyam, please save your breath. I’ve made my feelings clear.

BT: Understood, Your Grace.

[The baron bows curtly and spins on his heels, quickly marching away down the hall. The Duchess sighs again and continues fanning herself, watching the exercise on her polo grounds. She watches one of the female soldiers closely. The girl moves with grace and ferocity. The Duchess smiles and fans herself for a moment, then she folds her fan, stows it in her elaborate hairstyle, and quietly closes the drapes.]


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