Log Entry 170424.209

An eventless day and for that I think we should be thankful. While Honka remained outwardly polite and courteous towards Arunga, it is obvious that he has little but contempt for him. Sadly, Arunga was not oblivious to it so at the end of the day we chatted quite openly about it in our rooms.
We had all gathered there before bed, primarily to compare notes but also to chill. It's quite tiring, fawning over people and feigning politeness in the way that Honka demands, so the opportunity to relax and unwind was welcomed by us all.
"So if Honka is the High Emperor, who is the Low Emperor?" Arunga suddenly asked.
Traeth explained that in ancient times (again, no idea when 'ancient' was), the country had been divided into the High Region and the Low Region. However, either due to a marriage of the two families or a war (no one could decide which because the Dirrians have never recorded their history), there was now only the High Emperor. I can't say that fact was particularly interesting, but the lack of recorded history was very intriguing.
On Earth we say that history is written by the victors. On Dirria, history is apparently written by the old wenches that feel compelled to tell it to their grandchildren. Such stories are filled with embellishments to entertain or terrorise the young (just as we do with our children), so tales often contradict each other; the truth is very ambiguous at best.
Traeth began to tell us some of the stories that were told to him as a child. Just like our own histories, his tales were filled with kings and queens, princes and princesses. There were rogues and heroes, the kind and the cruel. There were also tales of adultery and murder among the Emperors through the ages, so I suppose the Dirrians are not that different to Terrans after all.
I asked Traeth where he thought the current emperor would fit into Dirrian history. Would he be remembered as a good emperor I asked?
Traeth's eyes suddenly widened and his whole demeanour changed. He glared uncomfortably at me.
"Oh, definitely one of the better ones!" he said, but his eyes spoke differently. He tapped his ear with one hand and swept his finger across his chin with the other, pointing most discretely towards the window. We all realised what he was saying, and a faint shadow passing across the balcony confirmed it. Someone was listening.
Our conversation became stilted and dull, and we quickly feigned tiredness and a need to retire to our beds. We went inside, shutting the windows behind us and began to chat hurriedly. I was worried about listening devices but Traeth assured us we had no need to be. The Dirrians weren't that sophisticated or technologically advanced. In future, though, our conversations will be taking place in hushed tones, our doors and windows closed tightly against the outside world.

Log Entry 170325.208

The evening passed painfully slowly but thankfully without incident. Eventually, and to our immense relief, it drew to a close and we were shown to our rooms. It was the same one we had been in before but with the addition of a pet bed. I found that to be yet another insult upon Arunga and I felt fresh rage. Arunga said he didn't mind, but I sensed his deep unhappiness. He wasn't enjoying this visit at all.
We chatted for a while and then settled into our beds, but I couldn't sleep. I could hear Arunga turning in his, and Celia's words echoed through my mind.
"I can't sleep," I suddenly declared, artificially loudly.
Arunga stopped trying to organise his blankets that stubbornly wouldn't shift.
"Not used to a foreign bed?" he grumbled.
"It's more than that. I'm not used to sleeping alone. Usually I have Beastie beside me." I paused for effect. "I wonder …" I asked slowly. "Would you curl up with me, Arunga?"
The words had barely left my mouth before I felt the thud of his paws landing on the bed by my feet, and the familiar sensation of a cat running up the bedclothes. I pulled the covers back and he snuggled beneath them with me. His loud, contented purr thrummed against my chest, and it wasn't long before we both fell into a deep slumber.

Log Entry 170319.207

I had half hoped that when we entered the Palace a proper reception would have been arranged. As it was, our presence wasn't even acknowledged. The room was full, just as it had been when we first arrived on Dirria, with people chattering and socialising—oblivious to our presence just as it had been last time. Then, I hadn't minded too much but to treat Arunga with such indifference was infuriating and just downright bloody rude. Anger rose in me like a storm. I glanced at T'Roc and saw a similar rage there, bridled but chomping at the bit. She caught my gaze and gave me the tiniest of nods. As the captain of a Federation star ship she couldn't react and risk an affray, but a somewhat unruly acting ensign? Well, that was a different thing.
Reaching over, I plucked Rosie's tricorder from his hand and bashed it hard on a table by the side of me.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" my voice boomed out, "I present to you … the king of the island of Tikarra, king of the Mairne people, his most royal highness, King Arunga!"
Silence dropped onto the room with the weight of an anvil. Every pair of eyes turned to look in our direction as the Dirrians parted like the Red Sea to reveal a rather cross looking High Emperor. As a single, unified body their eyes slowly fell upon the large, graceful feline. With his head held high and his tail flicking the air, Arunga swankered down the aisle, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. T'Roc and Traeth fell in behind Arunga, Al and I behind them, and finally Rutter and Rosie, to form a procession that walked the length of the hall towards Honka. Arunga stopped a few feet from the High Emperor, looked him squarely in the eye and then tipped a bow.
"I am honoured to meet you," he said graciously.
Honka just gawked at him, the edges of his mouth twitching uncomfortably. I could see his uncertainty as he wavered between continuing his ignorance and acknowledging the presence of another leader. His eyes briefly glanced at T'Roc. He was unsure how the Federation might view his rudeness, and in that moment, I realised that despite any impressions he gave, the approval of the Federation was important to him. Dirria may have had something we wanted, but it seems we had something he wanted too—and it wasn't just the exploration of Tikarra Island. In that instant, he had revealed a card he would rather not have played.
Suddenly Honka made a decision. He tipped his head and waved a hand as he sat, inviting Arunga to take a seat beside him. Arunga, with his usual grace and dignity, leapt onto the chair. The rest of us stood by as polite conversation ensued—the sort of polite yet uncomfortable conversation that passes between two diplomats who just know they aren't going to get on.