Chaos' Heir
Chapter 788: Force

Khan had forwarded many pieces of information to the Empire during his short stay in the Harbor. He had even given it exact coordinates for his quadrant on Baoway, but the Thilku ship had ignored the charred canyon.

The ship descended into the vast open area, decreasing its speed to avoid messing up the many tents before stopping a few meters from the ground. The vehicle hovered for a few seconds before a ramp shot out from an opening, landing at some distance from Khan's seat.

The ship's sudden arrival alerted the now-huge settlement. The army arranged itself around Khan's seat as more Scalqa left their tents to join the encirclement. Many didn't bother retrieving weapons to rush to protect their leader, but Khan shouted a few cries to calm everyone down.

The Scalqa didn't lower their weapons but avoided attacking mindlessly. They held back even when figures descended from the metal ramp, but tension inevitably built up. The newcomers were slightly shorter than the Scalqa, but the latter felt they were far bigger.

Khan had very different thoughts at the sight of those flashy red capes. He recognized many faces among the descending Thilku, and spotting a silver crown made him stand up, gently laying Monica down.

A few cries followed. Khan shouted orders, conveying as much as possible through the limited Scalqa language. He also advanced, making his way forward as the encirclement opened to let him pass. Of course, Monica was at his side, and the two soon found themselves face-to-face with the Empire's group.

Lord Exr, Amox, Onp, and other faces Khan had seen on Cegnore gathered before the ship's metal ramp. The Thilku team was small but mighty, with Amox as the sole third-level warrior. Everyone else was stronger, but that envoy still paled compared to the settlement's power.

Lord Exr was the most amazed about that detail. He wasn't ignorant about Baoway, but the Global Army's information significantly differed from what Khan had conveyed after his return. Seeing the truth with his own eyes inevitably left a deep impression. That primitive planet had a proper army, and Khan seemed to be its leader.

Nevertheless, no fear or hesitation appeared in Lord Exr's aura. Actually, a tinge of satisfaction invaded his mana. He seemed happy, but Khan feigned ignorance about that reaction.

Khan knew Lord Rsi had received his reports, but his absence didn't come as a surprise. The Empire cared so little about Baoway that it had left the planet in the hands of the Global Army. It would have never sent such a high-level figure to negotiate with Khan, but Lord Exr's presence compensated for that.

The Scalqa did their best to follow Khan's orders while the newcomers acclimated themselves to the scene. The former delivered a series of relatively flat rocks, arranging them into two opposite rows before bringing bone cups and raw meat. They placed the latter directly on the barren ground and cleared the area, slightly retreating with the rest of the army.

Khan shouted a few names and eyed the distant Lieutenant Dyester and Gordon before advancing hand-in-hand with Monica. He sat on one of the rocks, and Monica occupied his left side. Four Scalqa from the army imitated him, filling other seats in the same row.

Lieutenant Dyester and Gordon joined the trend, sitting at that imaginary table under the Thilku's watchful stares. The latter appeared diffident, but Lord Exr moved, and his companions followed.

Soon, the entire Thilku team sat before that strange group of Scalqa, humans, and Khan. No one spoke, but Lord Exr grinned at Khan's intense stare. The two seemed entangled in a mental conversation only they could hear.

"You created a good thing here," Lord Exr eventually broke the silence. "Prince Khan."

"[Please, My Lord]," Khan replied in the Thilku language. "[You are a guest in my quadrant. It's customary to use your language]."

Lord Exr's smirk broadened until his sharp canines became visible. He seemed pleased about that development, and his eyes instinctively ran over the settlement.

Calling the place "settlement" sounded like an insult. Lord Exr couldn't be sure, but he felt almost one thousand Scalqa lived there. That was a massive difference from the Global Army's initial report, but the Thilku leader found something else far more interesting.

The Scalqa were nothing more than primitive giants, but they all silently waited for Khan's directives while remaining close enough to guard him. Even the few aliens at the imaginary table pretended to have good manners. Khan had tamed them in months, and Lord Exr knew the only power that could make such transformation possible.

"[Your quadrant]?" Lord Exr asked, switching to his language while bringing his eyes back to Khan.

"[I'm the Global Army's official Ambassador]," Khan explained. "[The regulations give me full authority over this quadrant]."

"[Did the regulations give you this]?" Lord Exr questioned, seemingly knowing the answer.

"[I built this]," Khan stated. "[That's why it's mine]."

Monica had learned some Thilku due to her business on Neuria, and Gordon's education had provided similar training. However, the others on Khan's side couldn't understand anything about the conversation. Still, the tones and general atmosphere said more than a thousand words.

"[Do you understand now]?" Lord Exr wondered. "[Do you still resent me]?"

Images from Neuria flashed in Khan's eyes. The destruction of the sea station was no small matter, but he had done worse in the last period. Moreover, he had used his own hands, which he wasn't sure how praiseworthy it was.

Yet, Khan knew. Lord Exr had imparted to him teachings he wasn't ready to accept, but the Global Army had filled that role, leading to a simple answer.

"[The weak die to the strong]," Khan declared.

"[And you are strong, Prince Khan]," Lord Exr added.

"[Stronger than you]," Khan uttered as his eyes flashed for a second.

Lord Exr noticed the flash, but his smirk didn't waver. He felt the pressure exuded by Khan's presence. He knew the potential danger he was in, but no fear appeared in his mind.

"[Yes]," Lord Exr admitted, "[But not stronger than the Empire]."

Silence fell again. Khan and Lord Exr inspected each other without making sounds. It almost was a stalemate, except neither had voiced requests.

Khan eventually moved, seizing a piece of raw meat from the ground. He bit on it, tearing a gory chunk off. Lord Exr watched him munch that piece, and his six-fingered hand soon reached for a similar treat.

Lord Exr's companions didn't hesitate to imitate him, and the same went for Khan's. Lieutenant Dyester waited for everyone to have raw meat in their mouths but eventually caved in. The feast started, but Khan and Lord Exr barely cared about the meal.

"[This is my quadrant]," Khan declared. "[I want the Empire to acknowledge it]."

"[What would the Empire earn from doing that]?" Lord Exr asked.

"[Me]," Khan replied. "[I'm more reliable than any human]."

"[Who are you]?" Lord Exr questioned. "[Major Khan? Ambassador Khan? Prince Khan? Who do you speak for]?"

Lord Exr's confusion was understandable. The Empire wasn't only outside the Global Army's titles system. Khan's changes in status also happened in a matter of months. Humankind itself didn't know the type of authority he wielded, and he was part of that group.

"[The Blue Shaman]," Khan declared, his eyes revealing all the light they could radiate.

Khan stopped holding back. He removed the limiter on his presence, and his mana did the rest. His aura gained a suffocating, freezing vibe, and cracks appeared on the barren ground. Khan grew heavier by simply letting his thoughts affect his energy, and some distant Scalqa went to their knees when they recognized those features.

"[Your reports talk about great benefits for the Global Army]," Lord Exr asked, unfazed by that chilling aura. "[What can the Empire expect from choosing the Blue Shaman]?"

"[Equal treatment]," Khan explained. "[Monopoly for me]."

"[Won't you prioritize selling to humans]?" Lord Exr wondered.

Khan took another big bite from the lump of meat in his hands before spitting it to the ground. His eyes went dark but showed enough anger to tell multiple stories. That feeling was also genuine. Khan was still livid about the recent slaughters.

"[The Empire will rip off the Global Army]," Lord Exr warned.

"[As long as I profit]," Khan responded, "[And you warn me beforehand]."

"[Do you have a force, Blue Shaman]?" Lord Exr questioned. "[Should I tell the Empire that you do]?"

"[Am I not enough for that acknowledgment]?" Khan asked.

"[My Lord might want to test you again]," Lord Exr pointed out.

"[He shouldn't]," Khan warned. "[He would lose a decent soldier]."

"[He won't test you with a soldier]," Lord Exr said.

"[Then]," Khan responded. "[Lord Rsi would lose a regiment]."

Lord Exr's smirk would widen, but his mouth had reached its limits. Still, his expression soon turned serious as his throat voiced a guttural cry.

The metal ramp still connected the barren ground to the hoovering ship, and two Thilku slowly descended from it, carrying a rectangular metal box from both sides.

The two newcomers reached the imaginary table and placed the box behind Lord Exr, who stood up to make one last announcement.

"[This isn't for Prince Khan]," Lord Exr explained, "[Ambassador Khan, or Major Khan. This is for the Blue Shaman]."

Lord Exr kicked the box, which opened to reveal a thick red cape. The Thilku's military uniform was hidden underneath, but no one noticed it for many minutes.

Chapter 788: Force
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