290 – Reunion
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“I have been waiting for you all.”
“Oh, so it’s you, Lilium. It’s been a while.”
The one who welcomed us when we got off from Krishna and walked inside the airport was Lilium; an elven woman from the Rose clan who accompanied us as our guide when we first visited Theta.
“Hmm…… It looks like you’re not on guard today, aren’t you?”
Lilium gave our baggage a once-over and muttered.
Today, the only things we brought with us were small bags. The contents were just some spare clothes and energy packs. It wasn’t like last time when we brought big backpacks filled to the brim with stuff like survival kits and food rations.
“After hearing you say that, I suddenly feel the urge to be more vigilant.”
“Please don’t. I was almost demoted because of the previous incident you know?”
Lilium made an X sign with both arms while sporting a serious expression. I’m not really interested in you being almost demoted– No, maybe I should be. But it’s not like that crash was entirely our fault y’know. In the first place, I don’t really think I was the one who caused the crash, but even if I was, it’s not like I knew anything about psionic power and stuff, so you really couldn’t blame me.
“So if they went ahead and punished you, that would be equal to placing the blame squarely on the Rose Clan huh. That’s why your punishment has been deferred.”
“Hoe〜…… So it’s actually about politics.”
Regarding the case where the passenger vehicle that was prepared by the Grado Clan crashed, the Rose Clan questioned the safety of it right from the beginning and tried to push for us to be ferried by a standard small-class starship. After all, the passenger vehicle didn’t even possess at least a low output energy shield, and its communication capabilities were also very minimal. Moreover, the body of the vehicle wasn’t that sturdy due to an emphasis on weight reduction, so the risk level was quite high if an accident happened.
They also proposed using small-class starships for the search and rescue efforts after the accident. However, that also failed due to the fierce opposition of the Grado Clan leaders who absolutely despised science and technology. Well, in the end, Mei snapped and piloted Krishna in order to rescue us.
It seemed she got fed up by the slow response of the top elven clans. Well, of course, she would. That time, we were supposed to be VIP guests going for a visit to the Grado Clan territory. And unfortunately, the passenger vehicle we rode in crashed, and we got stranded. The rescue efforts proceeded at a snail’s pace due to the spat between the top elven clans, and Mei eventually decided to rescue us herself. In other words, she decided the clans weren’t reliable and took matters into her own hands.
Naturally, the Rose Clan admonished the Grado Clan that they claim were at fault for the accident due to insisting on using their own apparently unreliable passenger vehicle, as well as the Minfa Clan that supported the idea. On the other hand, the Grado and Minfa Clans heaped the brunt of their criticism on Lilium, the guide dispatched by the Rose Clan, who they blamed for leaving us to fend for ourselves while staying safe in the only remaining car of the passenger vehicle.
Well, they were being pretty unreasonable. Back then, the lead car was only hanging by a thread, and the pilot of the flying passenger vehicle was a male elf named Hishi who was from the Minfa Clan. He wouldn’t have had any choice but to try his best to fly the craft to the main settlement of the Grado Clan in order to report the crash, especially since he wasn’t sure how long the vehicle would be able to stay in the air due to the damage it received.
Of course, the Rose Clan should have dismissed such attempts to pass the blame. They would have insisted that there was nothing wrong with Lilium’s response. And so, there was no way the Rose Clan would dismiss Lilium due to the matter. As a result, her proverbial neck managed to stay on her shoulders with just a single piece of skin holding it in place.
“So what happened to the relations between the clans after that?”
“It’s now as cold as the coldest reaches of outer space, unfortunately. Moreover, the mutual dissatisfaction between our Clan’s leaders and the top leaders of the Grado Clan has reached a critical point.”
“Oi, oi. I better tell you this beforehand. I ain’t planning on getting ourselves involved in your clan spats any longer, okay?”
“It’s alright. Even if I said things have reached a critical point, that’s only between our leaders. They will still display superficial smiles toward one another whenever they meet and things won’t devolve into a physical scuffle at least.”
“Um, how am I supposed to take that……?”
“Oh c’mon. It’s way better than them killin’ each other in a shootout and stuff.”
Tina just said something disturbingly violent. A shootout……? They ain’t mafia or criminal gangs y’know.
“We should find it easiest to get along with the Rose Clan. Elma-sama, who has blood ties with them, is a member of our group, and our outlooks toward science and technology match, for the most part, Master.”
The Rose Clan was the most technologically advanced faction among the three major elven clans. They emphasized the use of science and technology to improve their lives and advocated the idea of advancing into space. In other words, they were the most pro-Empire faction in Theta.
They also had the greatest monetary wealth among the three factions due to their focus on external relations and the defense of the entire Refill system, which led to them taking the lion’s share of economic transactions with other systems within the Empire. However, their views were fundamentally incompatible with the Grado Clan that emphasized tradition, communing with the spirits, and magic culture, as well as the Minfa Clan that insisted on having the best of both worlds, although their current Clan head seemed to be a huge fan of magic.
“Well, I suppose that’s how it is. I’m sure you and the others would be surprised, Hiro. Surprised at how normal this place is, I mean.”
“Normal huh…… Err, well, the people of the Grado and Minfa Clans were either kinda arrogant or eccentric after all.”
Images of a macho handsome elf, prim and proper princess-y elf, magic otaku elf and so on flashed inside my head. The only one who seemed relatively normal was Nect, the son of the Minfa Clan chief.
“We’ve already prepared transportation for you. Please follow me. It’s a luxurious vehicle fit for VIPs such as yourselves, so don’t worry.”
“Oooh, sounds good. Hey Boss, she said we’re VIPs. VIPs ya hear? I’m sure there will be some high-class booze and snacks available.”
“Did you watch too many holo-movies, Tina? Or rather, are you really planning on drinking at this timing? We’re gonna be meeting with the higher-ups of the Rose Clan later you know?”
“It’s fine, Boss. For dwarves like us, most alcoholic drinks are just the same as grape juice.”
“That’s not the point Big Sis……”
Of course, it ain’t fine. In fact, it’s problematic. Or rather, aren’t you actually holding some expectations yourself even if you sound like you’re admonishing your sister, Whisker? You can’t fool me. See. The corners of your mouth are twitching a bit.
Mm. I feel like Mimi polished her glutton persona a little bit too much. There’s a time and place for that, young lady. But, well, it’s good for her to eat more, I guess. She should eat and develop her assets more. Yep. I ain’t gonna say that out loud though.
“Alright, stop fooling around, guys. We can’t let the other party wait long for us. Let’s get going.”
“Right. Come on then, Mei.”
We left the airport with the excited sisters and Mimi following after us. I’ve actually never traveled long-distance overland before, so I’m looking forward to the experience. We either used Krishna or something similar to a high-speed railway to get around the Imperial Capital after all.
“So the ground vehicles on this planet are like this huh.”
We boarded a so-called hover-car. It was about the size of a large truck but was still much smaller than Krishna. However, its interior truly was quite luxurious. It resembled the lounge of a 5-star hotel. Comfortable seats where three people can sit side by side were arranged in an L shape, and there was even a fully stocked bar counter with various kinds of drinks, snacks, and fruits. Moreover, the vehicle appeared to be fully automated as well.
“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to travel like this huh. I suppose this is how people get around in the urban areas of the planet, right?”
“What about non-urban areas then?”
“In places where autonomous driving systems aren’t widespread, you would have to manually drive a vehicle with a pilot seat just like a starship. SVs that can run on both the ground and in the sky are mainly used.”
Mimi nodded after hearing Lilium’s explanation as she ate the sweets that were recommended to her. Eh? The mechanic sisters? They already started sampling the fine wines in the bar counter. Should we just leave them here while we meet up with the leaders, I wonder.
“What are you planning to do with that item?”
After posing her question, Mei turned her gaze toward the special-grade cursed item that was shining brightly – the Sacred Tree seed.
“I’m gonna hand it over to the Rose Clan.”
“I see. If that is your decision, then I suppose that would be for the best, Master.”
“Do you have any other thoughts, Mei?”
“No. That item appears to have the ability to amplify and strengthen Master’s psionic power. I merely thought keeping it for ourselves could be another option. However, doing so will undoubtedly worsen our relations with the elves of the Refill system, so I have misgivings about such a development.”
I see? Well, it’s true that keeping this thing might make my mysterious power even stronger.
“No, no. No matter how you slice it, that won’t lead to anything good. I’m definitely gonna hand this over to the Rose Clan.”
“I’m truly glad to hear that.”
I turned to Lilium, who was listening in on Mei and my conversation and saw her stroke her chest in relief. It would certainly cause major problems for the Refill system elves if I ended up bringing this special-grade cursed item away with me. This was especially true for those who practiced spiritualism.
The Rose Clan didn’t seem to attach that much importance to spiritualism compared to the other two clans, but they still generally practiced it. And moreover, I was someone who was brought here by a daughter of the Willrose House, which was a branch of the Rose Clan. If my image falls to rock bottom among the elves after taking away the Sacred Tree seed, the position of the Rose Clan would be in danger as well. That’s why my decision caused her to feel a sense of relief.
“We will reach the central assembly hall of the Rose Clan soon.”
“Gotcha. Hey, you two. Could you stop drinking now? We’re about to arrive.”
I took away the wine bottle from the hand of a drunk Tina and started to prepare for getting out of the car. But can this thing really be called a car? Anyway, we got ready to get out of the vehicle.
Now then, I wonder what the Rose Clan’s people are gonna be like? I chatted with their delegation a bit during that dinner banquet, but I didn’t have much of an impression.