24.XII \ 206

This street ended at a t-junction, facing a defunct corner store bearing a sign that read Convenience in large script.

Here the Princess stopped to speak, and her guide regarded her. “I know how this might sound, but – the Imperium is founded on cooperation and inclusion. It can’t even exist today without the collective skill sets of different planetary peoples. Cooperation is the force that propelled it to the present moment, even the spark of its inception. Relation is the mandate. That includes all known… all known…”

Soleil let out a sigh and dropped forward, empathetic pain wrenching her face where it could scarcely be seen. Her brow remained furrowed, gaze on her thoughts. “I know it sounds like I’m harping on an ideal, yet – any civilization is little else than an ideal. That I can name it means it exists, though it mightn’t have guided every action. I’m not the only one who knows where the backbone lays. But the power…” She looked up and faced Raev to show him her expression: the internal accumulation of assessment, graced with stunned acknowledgment of all the reality she’d faced. “…The power is acting against itself.” Her continuing readiness to act held her together, and her sword of logic sharpened as she continued applying it in cogitation.

He took this in with a frank and direct gaze before replying to the skyline. “How often does an established power structure depart from the ideals which created it? It happens, when those with power are afraid they might lose it. They can betray what empowered them, which may empower another.” Sturlusson lifted his hand to direct them to the right, where a wind whistled down a long, hard road.

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