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Chapter 8

When Jan turned 58 the council turned to the implementation of its laws in a more concrete manner. Incumbent within the constitution was the provision for an intergalactic law enforcement agency. An agency which recognized sovereign member rights, but worked in harmony with those laws on a galactic basis. The proposed name for this agency was ‘Allegiance’, intending that it would portray allegiance to the principles of Galactic unity and justice, and the name given for each member of Allegiance would be a ‘Lawkeeper’. Allegiance was headquartered, alongside the Galactic Council, on New Terra. It was stationed, in fact, not far from the Council Assembly hall. Each member body of the 480 members of the Galactic Council was responsible for providing members to Allegiance, and a presence was required on each civilized planet of the council nations. They were tentative in the first few months, reluctant to get overly involved in galactic affairs, but gradually Allegiance Lawkeepers were called upon to duty and throughout the inner Galaxy they were soon called ‘Space Cops’. It seemed most member bodies appreciated a unified galactic approach to law enforcement, as this provided an avenue for extradition of rogue criminals and a more uniform approach to crime throughout the inner galaxy, creating unity in thinking on this issue. Allegiance soon became quite popular in galactic thinking and, in general, it was readily accepted. Their scope of responsibility grew ever-increasingly as more acts of legislation were passed through the council, giving Allegiance greater degrees of authority. And through this process one thing began to happen, which had initially been feared would upset member bodies. The council started becoming viewed as an authoritative galactic body, with the right to make galactic law and have it enforced by Allegiance. This had not been the intention, though, with the formation of the council. The council had been very sensitive about member rights straight from the beginning. But the average every day citizen of the inner galaxy preferred, it seemed, a greater authority watching over them than just their planetary civilization. It seemed the idea of a Galactic community had been forming very quickly, and the council and Allegiance were regarded very strongly as the legal authority of the community. And while the member body officials had been reluctant to push the council in that direction, it seemed it was what everyone really wanted anyway. And so, as time passed, Allegiance became more and more official and more and more respected, viewed as the real force of galactic law by most.

’So you want to join Allegiance?’’I think so. I have been considering it for months now. I mean, working for Omega is ok, but the Galagon department has largely been superseded by the Galactic Council itself, and Omega’s role has diminished greatly. All that we really do is administer security for the Assembly grounds and run maintenance. We no longer have any real official role. I mean, you are kept busy enough with that, but I need something more, dad. And I think Allegiance might just provide that for me.’Jan nodded, understanding shown on his face at his son’s words. Radnick Darkthorn himself had been nominated and now served as the chief representative from humanity on the council. The confederation had agreed that as he had proposed Galagon it was suitable for himself to serve as the first chief representative of humanity on the council. Jan, at this time, remained in Omega working on Galagon’s administrative responsibilities, but what his son did not know was the Darkthorn had been suggesting to him to come into direct work in the Galactic council as his chief secretary and co-council member. And Jan had accepted the position and would soon start. Omega had been good, but Galagon was his life now, and that propelled him inevitably into council life. In fact, the way he had been treated by most representatives on the council it was as if he himself was a representative, even though not so officially. But his son, Kalan, had no real responsibilities apart from his basic work in Omega on the Galagon administrative project. And Jan could see his son yearned for more. And Allegiance, with the potential excitement it could offer him, given his reckless Kolby genes, seemed to be the best avenue for him, and Jan likewise agreed. ’I think it is a great idea, son. You have my blessing.’’Thanks Dad. That means a lot to me. I will do you proud in Allegiance. I promise you.’Jan nodded. In a funny way, this wasn’t that unexpected. Kalan was a man now, and wanted to prove himself. Perhaps he looked up to his father and saw just how well he had risen through life, and perhaps that spurred him on to show himself also a man. But, for Jan, that was ok. Kalan would prove himself. He would undoubtedly do that. And as a member of Allegiance, Jan felt his son would bring further honour to the name of Kolby.

At 58, becoming the chief secretary for Radnick Darkthorn, humanities representative on the Galactic Council, was an honour Jan revelled in. It was, like his formative work in Galagon, exciting times to once again be in the heart of galactic commerce. And then Darkthorn suddenly died of cancer complications, complications which he had not spoken to Jan about, and humanity was left searching for a new representative. Jan alone was nominated, the confederation extremely happy to have him as their man on the council. Jan took up his duties and, now in the real prime of his life, which due to the very advanced state of quality of food and health on New Terra and throughout much of the human confederation, was considered being middle-aged at 58. He still felt very fit, exercised regularly, and looked good for his age. At this stage he expected to live to around the regular age for the elder generation of around 130 to 140 years. But of course, 198 was still the record age of a human being, being set 400 years previously. To some, Jan was still young, but he felt incredibly experienced in his 58 years. Yet, while 58 may be young to many, it was deemed sufficient experience for the honour bestowed upon him within one year of his appointment. It had been proposed by a number of bodies that the Galactic Council needed a chief. A head – a chief representative – an overseer – with various powers to act as the primary spokesman and guiding voice for galactic affairs. Jan was humbled when he was nominated. 3 other names had been proposed but, due to his increasing popularity amongst member bodies, and the general good reputation he had for being such a key voice in the formation of Galagon, Jan won the final vote by a large margin. And suddenly, the illustrious Rimwalker, who in his youth had often had to pinch pennies practically to get by, was head of a Galactic council which ruled nearly half the galactic civilizations. Jan Kolby had, indeed, come a long way.

Jan sat with Chance in their new apartment, overlooking the Galactic Assembly grounds, on the edge of Televere, New Terra’s capital city. The apartments had been just finished in construction, made available to representatives of the galactic council on a rationed basis, and unsurprisingly all had been claimed. Jan felt, with his new and greater responsibilities, living right near the Assembly hall and his office would be the best idea, and Chance had no objections. He was now 60, and had served 2 years of the 4 year term as Overseer of the council. The work was a new position and in many ways Jan was charting out its responsibilities. It was exciting work, always demanding, and Jan’s knowledge of law and economics had been put to the test. Fortunately, having just completed his doctorate in political science from Televere’s main university, Jan had a sufficient enough education into the insight of Galactic affairs, which he had majored in, to guide him through his everyday work. He had a 7 man personal security detail appointed to him for his office. It was deemed of such great importance, becoming viewed as the highest political office in the Galaxy that his safety was of utmost importance. In fact, death threats had become ever increasing, more so than his early days when Galagon was new to the inner galaxy. His apartment, after a number of modifications, was apparently bomb-proof and it was often difficult doing what he wanted to do because of security concerns. But such, he realized, was public life as the highest galactic official. Chance was often called into the limelight and appeared on many of the New Terran talk-shows, like Jan, and was expected to dress with glamour and sophistication. Although Chance was generally a reserved sort of individual, she generally now liked the attention, having gotten used to it, and was always out shopping for the latest clothes. When she had a personal designer appointed to her by someone in his office, Jan felt it might, perhaps, be going too far, but he was confidently assured that his position warranted it. In fact, as the first term of his office approached culmination, that position had grown increasingly lavish and was now deemed by New Terran culture, and many others, as the position to seek in life. ‘Rule the Galaxy’, so it was often said. When his first term came to an end, he was nominated again. It was claimed by a number of members that his work was of sufficient quality, and his growing reputation which was upholding the importance of the council, that another term in the position seemed to be in the best interests of the council. He was thus nominated again and retained the position unopposed. And, as his second term began, Jan began to realize that in a life which, almost, had not had a great ambition for success, it had been lived in such a way that it had almost been led by a power beyond him. Call it destiny, call it fate, Jan felt that his life was, perhaps, in the very hands of the great power which was known by humanity commonly as ‘God’ and that he was simply doing the will of God in his life, rather than a life of his own choosing. And, concluding that this seemed to be the case, Jan came to a stronger faith in ‘The One’ as his wife called him, and began attending an Arcturian temple which had been recently established in Televere dedicated to the higher power. In fact, Chance and members of her family from Arcturia who had emigrated to New Terra were the chief proponents of the temple, but while it served Arcturian interests, it was also non-denominational in attempting to present an almost universal perspective on the higher power. Jan found the sermons of the Arcturian preacher strangely potent – he was a gifted speaker and spoke to the heart of his audience. He reflected values, common values, almost ones which the council itself promulgated, and Jan Kolby, son of humanity, found himself content in life and with the universe. Things made sense, now. Things made sense. God was in heaven, he was doing God’s work, and the galaxy went about its everyday humdrum existence. Life was good, concluded Jan Kolby. Life was good.

’Yes sir. Right away.’’Dismissed.’Kalan turned, and made his way off to the task at hand, a word of caution to one of the other members of New Terran Allegiance stationed in Televere. Kalan worked in Internal Protocol Affairs for the Allegiance, headed over the New Terran Allegiance posts. He was now high up in Allegiance, heaving been promoted quickly mainly because of the connection with his father. But, nevertheless, Kalan worked well and was widely respected and recognized. Internal Protocol Affairs, or IPA, was the police-dog over Allegiance members themselves. Its primary aim was to fight corruption and ensure a lawful spirit permeated the agency of the Lawkeepers. Lawkeepers were carefully chosen. Not everyone who applied for membership was successful, and they seemed to have not too much difficulty filling membership at this early stage in Allegiance’s history. Kalan’s ambition, much like many around him, was to one day head New Terran Allegiance. New Terran Allegiance, itself, was separate from the Galactic body called Allegiance General, which was mainly an administrative body, but which also had a strong IPA element, which was responsible for administering the Allegiance network on a galactic basis. With his connections to the council, his father had suggested that working for Allegiance General might be in Kalan’s best interests, but Kalan felt working the real work of the organisation, on a planetary based body, was his calling. But, with time, he had grown to see his father’s wisdom and was now considering a position which had been recently offered to him by Allegiance general, an offer arranged by his father without Kalan’s knowledge. Kalan, presently, was undecided. IPA work seemed to be what he was best suited for and almost expected of in many ways. It was important to many New Terran’s that the first family set an example in galactic ethics and conduct, and it was deemed by many that Kalan’s position in IPA within Allegiance was the best position for him. And Kalan grew to understand that, following in his father’s footsteps, the position likewise suited his nature. And so, concluding that, he was considering the IPA position in Allegiance general, and would likely accept it within the next few weeks. Still, for now, he had work to do and observing the command from his superior, went in search of the officer who needed cautioning on a particular subject matter.

Xenon was a regular member of the Galactic council. Their civilization spread over 78 colonized planetary bodies which were settled, 5,600 star systems and numerous dead planets, many of which were mined. It was by no means a large civilization, given the vast amount of star systems in the inner quadrant, but it was important to galactic life nevertheless. So much so that when the chief prince of the royal family of the Xenon civilization went missing, presumed kidnapped by the League of Piracy, and the Xenonian member of the Galactic council requested Jan Kolby’s own son, being a Kolby, to handle the matter, Jan approved. So despite his position in IPA in Allegiance General which he had just accepted, Kalan was appointed to head the Allegiance task force assigned to recovering the prince. Kalan enjoyed meeting Xenon’s Allegiance operatives. Xenon Allegiance was actually one of the most sophisticated of all Allegiance networks running through the inner quadrant. Generally speaking, after meeting Galactic council mandates for the powers and jurisdiction of member body Allegiance agencies, each civilization was then left to its own devices in how many members they supplied to Allegiance and how they organized themselves. The Xenonian’s, it seemed, took great pride in their part in galactic life, and had heavily contributed to their Allegiance agency, being very efficient, highly managed, and well respected. It was Xenon’s official galactic law enforcement agency, and was viewed with great favour by an adoring Xenonian public. Kalan was well received and as the Task force began its work, with Xenon supplying all the known details, it became apparent to Kalan that it was likely indeed the League of Piracy of quadrant three who had kidnapped the prince. And due to his father’s extensive knowledge of League of Piracy politics and inner workings Kalan decided it may be in his best interests to seek his father’s assistance when and were he could. But not for now. He would first follow the logical courses of action and do his best himself to track down the prince. He would call on his father when he needed to – IF he needed to. The investigation seemed promising at first. They traced what they suspected were the likely manoeuvrings of the ship involved on a merry chase through the third quadrant. But then it disappeared and no sign seemed to be found of it on Draxon itself, were Kalan had been sure they would take the Prince. They’d had a number of sightings of the Prince confirmed, he seemingly being not too closely guarded by the League, free to walk around with a few of the pirates guarding him. This is what most of the witnesses they found on various planets confirmed. And that puzzled Kalan. Could it be that the prince was accompanying them voluntarily? Was he faking his own kidnapping? It was indeed a mystery. However, when the ship disappeared from their searches, Kalan had no option left but to seek his father’s advice. Perhaps he could help him in some way. Whatever else, it couldn’t hurt.

’It’s a curly one son, and I am not sure how I can really help you. You have followed general procedure by the looks of it, but it may simply be a case of the ship either being destroyed or gone astray in deep space. Perhaps they are stranded and waiting rescue. Hell, there are a million possibilities and it is a bloody large galaxy.’Kalan nodded. It was something he had guessed himself.’And what of the Prince carousing around with pirates, seemingly without a care in the world?’’In my experience son, this is a funny kind of galaxy at times, and league members can be the most unpredictable of sorts. They might not really care that much about the Prince’s security. Maybe the kidnapping was a grudge between the League and Xenon for some reason, and they are just getting payback. Or maybe the Prince has just befriended his captors. He is a Prince and might have a smooth tongue. But, again, there are a million possibilities.’‘Yes, I know,’ said Kalan, scratching his head. ’But what the hell should I do next. Just monitor the situation and hope for the best? Xenon will be hardly pleased with that.’Jan looked at him, considering that point, and considering his own responsibility in safekeeping galactic order as Overseer of the council. And so an idea came to him, which he felt he might as well share with his son. ’I do have an idea, Kalan. I do have an idea.’‘And what is that?’ his son asked, looking at him anxiously.’Well, aeons ago I was faced with a dilemma involving the league. It was regarding a certain crown. A certain Arcturian crown. Your mother may have mentioned the story.’Kalan grinned at the reference to the source of the family’s fortune.‘Well, the league had the crown, and I needed to infiltrate the league to get it back. And I came up with one solution. One bold idea which was the only thing I could think would work. So perhaps you should try that. You never know, it might just work.’ Kalan looked at his father, a little surprised, but acknowledging the idea. Whatever else, joining the League of Piracy to recover a Xenonian prince would be a story to tell the grandchildren. Whatever else it would be that.

’Kalan Kolby, huh? Any relation to Jan Kolby?’‘Who?’ asked Kalan, feigning innocence.’Never mind. So what makes you think you will be an asset to the League of Piracy. We don’t take just any joker who shows up. Credentials, lad. What are your credentials?’Kalan thought fast. ’I have contacts on the darker side of inner galactic life. You ask, I can deliver. Just name your price.’Tarkan nodded. He was used to various claims, but this one he would put to the test. ’Very well. If you are so very gifted, we have a task for you. Steal an Allegiance space ship. We could use one for various missions. But an official one, mind you. No fakes – we will see right through them.’’How long have I got?’’Two weeks.’’I’ll be back in one.’Tarkan looked at him, nodding to himself. If this Kalan Kolby could indeed return with an Allegiance ship in one week, he would make an undoubtable asset for the League.‘Get to it, Kalan Kolby. I’ll be waiting.’ Due to anxiousness Kalan was tempted to bring in the ship, the easiest thing to arrange, within 5 days, but decided, for suspicions sake, to wait the week. But on the seventh day, coming into Tarkan’s office, they sped over to the space-docks and Tarkan looked over the impressive looking Allegiance ship.‘For fuck’s sake, it’s the genuine article,’ he said to himself a number of times. He looked at Kalan, grinning, and said, ’I don’t know how the hell you got this done. Allegiance ships are not exactly easy to come by, but you have got it done. So if you are this good, Kalan Kolby, the League of piracy could hardly do without you. You’re in.’Kalan nodded, satisfied. His first objective was now achieved, and he had been lucky with how he achieved. Somehow he doubted he would have it so easy next time.’What next, Tarkan?’’For now we move you into an apartment block. We have several in this city. In fact, I have a particular one in mind. One used by a certain Jan Kolby. Ever heard of him?’’You asked me that already. But, yeh, thinking about it, the name now rings a bell. Sits on the Quadrant Zero galactic council, doesn’t he?’That’s the one. He used to be a member of the League, which is something we have over him, should we ever be in a delicate situation with the council. But that is irrelevant to you. I will put you in his old apartment. He used to share it with his wife. I think they even have some of their old belongings there. Feel free to throw them out if you want.’‘Will do,’ responded Kalan, quite interested to see were his parents once lived.‘Anyway,’ continued Tarkan. ’We will notify you of your first mission in due course. Dalok will instruct you in what you need to know about the league. He handles most of that work. And we will be watching you, closely. You are untested, so we will be cautious. But you seem like the perfect recruit, Kalan Kolby.’Kalan nodded. ’This could be the beginning of a wonderful partnership, Tarkan. I am sure of it.’‘We’ll see,’ responded Tarkan. ’We’ll see. 10 Kalan sat in his apartment, the harlot he had hired was still asleep in the bedroom. In many ways, Kalan Kolby was his father’s son, and prostitution was not totally unknown to the Kolby’s. Still, unlike his father who had been quite promiscuous in his twenties and early thirties before he had met Chance, Kalan only occasionally visited a lady to gain that most intoxicating of comforts. He was sitting, watching on one of the Draxian visual entertainment shows a debate on the future of Draxian civilization. The bane, so many claimed, was the League of Piracy, which although its fronts were official business, were seen as an ongoing menace to Draxon’s reputation. They were a warrior-type of people, the Draxian’s, in many ways. But they were also a civilized people, and desired a better reputation amongst the other galactic civilizations. The main problem, then, as many saw it, was the League of Piracy which was stationed on Draxon. Much of the debated involved how it should be dealt with, with the government representative maintaining the current status quo in how the league was currently handled, but the other heated debater, from a Draxian good works charity, heatedly arguing that the government needed to do more. Kalan was finding the debate intriguing, but could sense the mood in Draxon himself on the subject. The league, unofficially, brought vast wealth to the planet, and many knew they were in a better situation because of it. And, despite the illegality of the situation, didn’t really want it changed. And so Kalan concluded they were indeed civilized, but happy to work on the darker side of the law. He had been on two missions for the League in the past three months. One, a standard raiding mission further inwards in the galaxy, and another, a bodyguard for some league dealings with the Tekra, who were in the process of uniting with the League of piracy. Kalan had been assigned, along with Dalok, the personal protection of Tarkan who was the main league representative in the discussions. And they had proven fruitful, with the merger set to go ahead. Dalok mentioned, in passing, what Kalan had joined the league for. The location of the Xenonian prince, who was not so much being held hostage, even though he was technically, but someone who had befriended the league and sworn to help it when he came to power as monarch over Xenon. They would become the chief post of the League in the inner quadrant, so the prince had assured the league, and Dalok had told Kalan. This led to a dilemma for Kalan. He could now still rescue the prince, but should he in fact really bother? Perhaps it would be best to simply report the situation and let Xenon handle it from here. It was now no longer as clean cut as a standard kidnapping – other factors were involved. But, having given it some thought, he would contact the prince, and let him decide. It was the best solution Kalan had come up with, and a way to finish his job. The harlot yelled out to him to come and get some love and, switching off the visual, taking a sip of Draxian beer, he got up and went off to satisfy his desires.

Kalan tracked down Prince Ga’hazon in the northern city of Retak at the guild headquarters. He got in without too much trouble when he showed his guild id, and found the prince in the main eating hall, playing an electronic wall console game. The prince was in his early twenties for a Xenonian, and when Kalan asked him if he wanted to go back home to Xenon, the prince just shrugged.’I don’t know. Maybe. I like it here, now. And the league and myself have plans for the future. But, yeh, I guess now is a good as time to any to leave.’The Prince, with Kalan following, made his way to the office of the head of the guild and, upon entering, announced he was now leaving for home. The Draxian looked at him, nodded knowingly, and said, ’Don’t forget our arrangement. We will make good on it one day.’‘I won’t,’ replied the prince. He turned to Kalan. ’Ok. Let’s go home.’They made there way out of the compound and were not even asked questions, which Kalan now took to understand that the Prince had been a voluntary guest for quite a while. It was the arrangement he had with the League which, now, was keeping them together. But the Prince had to return home sometime and Kalan had been the cog in the system which would arrange that. As the Wolfklaw sped away from Draxon, Kalan could not help but think he had been a pawn in a game which he should never have played in the first place. Yet his inside knowledge, now, of the Prince’s new allegiances would prove useful information. He would let his father know and, he assumed, Xenon would be watched more closely in the future. At least they had advanced notice of this Princes apparent loyalties. The trip home was generally uneventful, the Prince though insisting they stop at various planets for him to get to know the third quadrant, which Kalan had no great objections to. As they travelled, slowly heading for quadrant zero, and the United Galaxy, as it had slowly been becoming known as, Kalan thought of his life. He thought of the work he would soon be getting back to in Allegiance general and, despite the perhaps mixed result in the mission he had just been on, he began to see why his father perhaps had had the hunger for his life on the Rim in his early years. There was an appeal to the way of life of being an adventurer. Of having a new danger to face every day, and a new planet to call home every now and then. It was life on the edge and for Kalan, who had known something of adventure from his upbringing, it was now something which had stung him with its appeal – something which he was not sure he could now let go of. And so, when he got home, he would take up his position again in Allegiance, but he would give private thought to spicing up his life in a way his father had done in his own early years.

Kalan was awarded the highest medal of honour in the Xenonian Empire, the Star of the Order of Xen, the Xenonian’s chief deity. His father and mother and sister attended the ceremony, and clapped loudly when the presentation was made. Kalan grinned, happy enough at the award, but silently regretting ever getting involved. He had spoken with his father about the situation with the Prince and his father had reacted, while maturely as given his age, but also with a sense of concern. The league, so his father explained to him, was widespread throughout the third quadrant, and even had bases now in the other quadrants. If it were to gain Xenon as an ally in its ever expansive operations, it could prove to be a thorn in the flesh for the United Galaxy. While Xenon as a power was not great, the presence of the League within an important area of space in the central quadrant could prove a bane to the Galactic council for years to come. Itwas, so Jan maintained, vitally important that the league never in fact set up operations on Xenon and he assured his son he would look into this matter, personally. Still, for now, Kalan was a hero and enjoyed the limelight for the while. It was about a month later, at a meeting of the council, that Xenon did something quite unexpected. So pleased had the Monarch of the Xenonian empire been with Kalan’s success in returning his son, that he proposed that like Xenon and so many other galactic civilizations, the Galaxy itself have a royal family to represent its ideals. And they nominated the Kolby’s to represent the Galactic Council and the inner Galaxy as that royal family. At first Jan was not really sure what to make of the offer, but assumed other galactic council members would be uninterested. However, surprisingly, the concept as presented by Xenon proved a popular idea and when a motion was forwarded for making Jan’s overseersmanship permanent, in the role of a Royal family and watchmen over the council, Jan did not object. If that is what they wanted, he was now used to the high life and would not mind it continuing. The motion was voted on and passed with 77% approval. Most members agreed with the idea, and the Kolby’s had been deemed suitable. And so the call to power in the life of Jan Kolby rose to its highest point and, although it really seemed more of a title than anything official, Jan had become something approaching the Emporer or King of the Galaxy. A Crown was prepared and a coronation ceremony took place, shown all over the inner galaxy. Most were happy enough with the Kolby’s, knowing them well enough now, and a figurehead royal family, with limited political powers, did not seem to bother the majority of the United Galaxy citizenship. It was the pinnacle of life for Jan Kolby, and he was silently grateful to the One for the position he had brought him to in life.

As overseer, Jan had been fussed over. But that increased manifold as Emperor of the United Galaxy, his official title. His duties now changed. There was a new overseer appointed over the Galactic Council, who Jan had the power to dismiss. He also had the power to veto legislation. They were his real political powers. But he had a great deal of other responsibilities, mainly his work of promoting the Galactic Council and serving as a representative of ethical and lawful behaviour as the head of the royal family. They were now expected to be the most of upright citizens by most citizens of the inner galaxy which Jan found challenging given his early behaviours in life, but which over the years he had found himself gradually conforming to anyway. His position, in reality, was that of a figurehead meant to represent the ideals of civilized galactic life. The power itself was not great, but the prestige was enormous. The Kolby’s traveled to many star systems in their new role. In fact, 80% of the New Terran year they were away touring other systems, promoting the Galactic Council and the idea of the United Galaxy. They were always well received, despite the odd protest from planets here and there. Some were not that fond of the idea of a Royal Family, which seemed to be contradictory in their minds to the ideas Galagon first represented. But wherever the Kolby’s went he stressed the idea that his responsibilities really were more of a figurehead in power, aimed at promoting the values of galactic peace and unity. It may have involved the trappings of prestige of the royal way of life, but he assured all the substance of his role was the promotion of galactic ideology. He was not merely an Emperor dictating his own dictatorial will on the galaxy. In fact, far from it he assured all those planets he visited. It was a royal family with a real and important role and, so he claimed, the family served the galaxy just as much as others served them. Those ideas seemed to gradually permeate the citizens of the United Galaxy, and the entity of the royal family, it was surmised, would suffice as the chief proponents of united galactic life. His privileges were, naturally, quite great. He received an ample salary from the council, one it was deemed necessary to show the importance of their role in galactic life. The Kolby’s themselves had their own fortune from the reward for the Sigmorius Crown, but the income they now received made them only that more wealthy. Jan himself had always been cautious about the wealth. If they ever gained a reputation for living too lavishly, too decadently, they would slowly grow despised. It was how revolutions of the past came to be. And because of that reality Jan was careful with the company he kept and the lifestyle he maintained. In all things he tried to ensure that the Royal family was being responsible in its position, setting an example of lawfulness and proper ethics and morality. And, as time past, that effort of Jan’s became noted and talked about and the institution of the Royal family became generally accepted. It was a good life, Jan felt, and he really wouldn’t have traded it. And as the years passed, he grew content with his lot in life.

Like her husband, Chance Kolby had slowly been growing accustomed to the high life. Thinking back to her youth she remembered, at times, fantasizing on board the ark about living in lush palaces and keeping company with people of noble birth. Of course, Landoria would have rebuked her should she have ever spoken as such, but her own parents had been more accepting and tolerant than the strict matriarch who had ruled their community. Her mother now lived also in Televere, desiring to be close to her, as well as her younger brother and his family. Her father had died a few years back, and while she missed him, she had grown used to much of her life without him being there ever since teaming up with Jan. Her mother was seen as almost royalty herself now and appeared on the various talk-show’s from time to time, as did all the Kolby’s. Recently their had been a special organised by one of the major visuals network, focusing on the life of Chance Kolby. Cameras had followed her around for three weeks as she went through her various engagements, and there were sessions in which she was asked personal and often intimate questions. In her reserved nature she brushed aside many of these questions, but did give some glimpse into the private lives of the Kolby’s. But, unlike her husband who was often quizzed on policy and the responsibilities of being head of the galaxy, most took an interest in the fashion life of Chance Kolby, rather than any specific social or political thing she might have to say. She was now the patron and head of so many charities that she had simply lost count of them all. Of course the Kolby’s gave to all of them, and were highly admired due to this. But such donations came from their ever-growing vast wealth, and they were never really short of funds themselves. It was a life Chance had grown used to and really did not want to part with it in any way. She thought back, once, all those years ago. Standing inside the welfare office on Arcturia, looking at the woman signalling her and suddenly making her decision to go with Jan. It had been a sudden decision, which had grabbed her, but she wanted to run with destiny. To take hold of life and see the possibilities it could give her. And for that, Jan Kolby, the illustrious Rimwalker, had seen like the opportunity she simply could not refuse. And now she found it difficult to comprehend just how fortunate she had been to take that bold step and find herself now, in many ways, queen of the galaxy. It was a life of glamour, prestige and perfection for Chance Kibb’star, all grown up. And, really, she could not count herself more fortunate.

While Kalan still held a position in Allegiance General in the Internal Protocol Affairs section, it was only now on a casual basis, as most of his time was spent with his father and on his new duties. Kalan was seen as the heir-apparent to Jan and when his father passed on it was now expected that Kalan would step into the role his father undertook. This did not bother Kalan Kolby. Not really. He was used to life on New Terra and being a Royal definitely did have its advantages. But often he thought back to conclusions he had made when returning the Xenonian Prince and how, after resuming work in Allegiance General for a while, he would go off and seek a life of adventure. Now, in his responsibilities as Jan son and heir-apparent, that did not seem realistic anymore. His father, although gently, seemed to be trying to mould Kalan towards taking on the position after him and it seemed that was now the general assumption most people made. And Kalan himself also made that assumption even though part of him perhaps desired otherwise. His younger sister Xadina, though, was ever so happy as a royal. She took to the position even more passionately than her mother, and particularly related to the younger audience. Much of the gossip on the various New Terran talk-show’s was about who Xadina had been seen with at the latest party and what gentleman would be lucky enough to snare the fabulous Ms Kolby. And, by most standards, she was quite beautiful, her pale-green skin in many ways seemingly enhancing the exoticness of the beauty she radiated. Both of the Kolby children, really, were happy enough with their lives. They had come from humble beginnings to a life of extreme wealth and from their to great responsibility. It had been something neither had really been prepared for, but each in their own way had taken it on board and run with it. Xadina, perhaps being the younger, had adapted more to the lifestyle than her older brother, but in the end both of them were now galactic royalty and were enjoying and appreciating the lifestyle which went along with it. And, as Jan turned 70, and the Kolby’s started becoming an icon throughout the United Galaxy, the Kolby children began to understand that whatever their own personal views, thoughts and feelings, they were now, in a way, the property of the general public of the United Galaxy and were a victim to the expectations of trillions upon trillions of United Galaxy citizens. It was a great life, a fabulous one in many ways, and the Kolby children both sensed that they had indeed been fortunate, coming to a position that no others, apart from the greatest royal families of the larger galactic civilizations, could really appreciate.

’Ladies and Gentlemen. Honoured guests and officials. May I present to you the United Galaxies Royal family.’As the host of the official event left off speaking, the Kolby family descended the staircase, to the applause of those gathered at the event. They were now quite used to such applauses and such events. For over a decade they had been treated as such, and it was almost what they now regularly expected. The night was the usual affair. Introductory speeches, dinner and dance. Later on Kalan and Xadina, after having danced with many of the important children of various esteemed officials, took themselves out to an outer section of the palace they were in, looking over the nightlife of the city before them. ‘So this is it, huh?’ said Kalan to his sister Xadina.‘What do you mean?’ replied Xadina.’This is life. This is what we get.’‘And what is wrong with that,’ she asked, coming up to him and putting her arm in his.’Nothing, I guess. I mean I am happy enough. The lifestyle we have is great. First class. I suppose I couldn’t really wish for anything more.’’I sense a ‘but’ coming,’ responded Xadina.Kalan smiled. His sister knew him well.‘As I said this lifestyle is great, BUT.’ Xadina smiled and Kalan grinned.’BUT, I don’t know. Sometimes I get itchy feet. Sometimes I wish we were living like we used to. On the edge, you know. Like mum and dad used to when they first met. Shooting around the galaxy here and there. Not a care in the world. The galaxy their doorstep to adventure. Sometimes I wish we could have that kind of life. Becoming ‘Rimwalkers’ like dad. I mean, wouldn’t that be great, Xadina? Wouldn’t that be exciting?’’And miss Andre’s recipes. You must be kidding, right?’Andre was the Royal family’s chief cook. A famous French cook from Earth, employed for the highest position in the galaxy.Kalan continued. ’I know you and your belly will find it difficult to be parted from such fine food for long, but wouldn’t you rather not know what happens next? Not to life a life so, you know, predictable?’’Hey, I like predictable. It pays the bills for one thing. And we are the Prince and Princess of the Universe, Kal.’’The Galaxy, you mean.’’Close enough.’Kalan stared out at the city, taking a sip of champagne.’But don’t you want a thrill out of life? To taste danger in a way you just won’t at the moment?’Xadina looked at him for a moment, sensed his seriousness, and softened. ’And just how would you achieve this adventure, dear brother?’’Take the Wolfklaw, some gold for expenses, and head out to the rim. And just wander. For some years just wander, and see were life takes us.’Xadina nodded. He was just like daddy in this way. Just like daddy. And deciding that her love for her brother was, really, an important thing, made up her mind.’If you go, I will come to. I will join you on your mad quest for glory. But remember, plenty of gold. I like my luxuries, dear brother.’Kalan grinned. ’As you wish.’They continued staring out at the city for some time, and in his heart Kalan was pleased. He really had already made up his mind, but to have Xadina coming along had been his strong wish. Two always made company. ‘So will you tell dad, or will I?’ Xadina asked.’I’ll tell him. But not for a little while. I want to make some plans first. But soon, soon we tell him. And then off we go.’Xadina nodded. Whatever else it would be a life of adventure. Whatever else it would be that.

‘You want to what!’ Jan’s voice had the slightest degree of incredulousity in it.’Borrow the Wolfklaw for a few years. But, you know. I will return it eventually.’Jan grinned. His son was definitely a Kolby.’And were exactly will you take her, dare I ask?’’Oh, you know. Usual places. I might actually go and visit Arcturia for a while. See the relatives we have there. But, mostly dad, I thought I would take up your old occupation. Bounty hunting on the Rim. Follow in the footsteps of the famous ‘Rimwalker’, you know. Live the life.’Jan chuckled. His son was perhaps naïve in that respect.’It wasn’t all adventure, you know. I went hungry from time to time and had to subsist on decade old ship rations. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Wolfklaw is solar powered, I may have never gotten anywhere.’’Well you needn’t worry. Xadina and I plan on taking plenty of gold for food and other supplies. Really, it is the thrill of it that we want. To taste life to its fullness.’’Xadina! My God, you aren’t taking your sister are you?’’I persuaded her. Hey, I will need the company, and I don’t think you would be willing to tag along for old times sake.’’Unlikely, son. Gah! And I had been breeding you to take over from me one day. You will need a good reputation for that, you know. Not one of a renegade louse, carousing wherever he wants, sleeping around, getting drunk and into trouble. That is not the example the United Galaxy wants or needs.’’As I recall it, you seemed to follow such wild ways for much of your youth. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?’’Be that as it may, I was not planning on becoming Galactic Emperor. On the other hand, you have no such excuse. You have been born into a family which, while it did not seek greatness, has had greatness thrust onto it. And as such you have responsibilities, Kalan. Great responsibilities.’‘Responsibilities I didn’t ask for!’ objected Jan Kolby’s son.‘Yes, I know. I know.’ He stroked his hair back over his head, a frustrated look on his face.’Well, alright son, alright. You have made your case. I guess I can afford you to take a few years away from the limelight. But promise me you will be back within a decade. I don’t think the Galactic Council will tolerate much more than that.’Kalan nodded. A decade suited him fine. It would give him all the opportunities for adventure that he could perhaps ever want.‘Thanks dad,’ he said, putting his arms around his old man, hugging him.Jan put his hand on his son’s head, and patted it gently.’Just promise me you will not get into too much trouble. If I have to bail you out of a situation, I don’t think my reputation will ever live it down.’’I promise.’’And for God’s sake, look after your sister. You know how she is. She will likely follow you into anything madly. She is not always the most sensible of girls. So you will have to keep a level head.’’I will. And don’t worry about Xadina. I’ll take care of her.’‘I hope so.’ They chatted on for a while, Kalan explaining that Arcturia would likely be first port of call, but also thinking he would take on work as a bounty hunter for the experience. He craved, so he told his father, a reputation like his dad’s. For in Kalan’s mind it was the adventurous life of his father’s past which really appealed to many people, even if it was not explicitly stated. And for himself to be accepted as Emperor he might just have to have a similar legacy of his own. And so, with his father’s blessing, he let Xadina know, and they gathered some gold and planned to take off in the Wolfklaw on the first day of the New Year. It was a life of adventure waiting for both of them, one which Kalan Rance Kolby looked forward to greatly.

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