The following is replay of the travelers meeting with King Oleb XVI of Drinax, aboard the Floating Palace.
Date: 12-1105 (Imperial calendar)
(The holographic recording shows all of you surrounding a conference table. The audio begins as the grotesquely obese monarch begins to speak.)
“Once, every world along that trade route shared in the bounty. The traders paid taxes to use our space and our starports. Then, because my ancestors were greedy bastards, everything fell apart. The Kingdom collapsed, and that meant those coldblooded Vilani snakes picked the Trojan Reach apart. It’s every world for themselves out there right now, and solitary worlds can’t bloody hold out against a godscursed empire!”
The King throws himself heavily into the armored bulk of the Dragon Throne. “So, here’s what we’re going to do. You take the Harrier and you cut a bloody swathe across the stars. Attack shipping, raid starports, hit fuel depots. Take what prizes you can. Don’t kill anyone you don’t have to, though – we want to bleed the merchants until they go crying to the Imperium, not start a bloody war. Pirate’s part one of the plan. Part two is all those worlds out there. We make them our allies. Sell stolen goods there, defend ‘em from raiders, recruit crew, give them a taste of wealth, and bring them back under the banner of Drinax. When the time comes, we offer the Imperium a deal – the pirate attacks stop if they recognize the Kingdom of Drinax and give me my rightful due.” He slams his meaty fist into the arm of the throne. “We do this right, and we’ll show there’s life in this old empire yet.” “Now, the terms. We keep this a secret from the Imperium for as long as possible – and that means you keep that letter of marque hidden until we sign a peace. The ship’s being loaned to you – you’re responsible for repairs and maintenance, but she’s coming home at the end. Ten percent of any money you make goes to me. Spend as much as you can spare on the colony worlds and curry favour with them. We’ll need them on our side if this isn’t going blow up in our faces.” He leans back in the throne. “If this works… then you’ll be made dukes of my court. And…” The king glances at a side door. “Get in here, daughter. This whole scheme was your idea.”
The Crown Princess of Drinax slips into the room. “Do I have to explain the whole ‘clandestine’ part of this scheme to you again, sire?” She smiles at you, and you can’t tell if she’s amused or furious. The King rises from his throne and takes his daughter’s hand in his huge fist. “If we are going to save this kingdom, daughter, we shall have to trust these travellers.” He gestures towards you. “After all, if they succeed, you’re marrying one of them.”