Xavion walked sedately back to his seat as medics swarmed around him. His wide black pants moved in time with his steps making his legs look bigger than they were. Vidria sat wide-eyed in her chair, with a smirk playing at the corner of her lips.

        “I could have done that.” She whispered to the old man as he returned to his spot next to her.

        “You would have ripped his legs off child. You don’t know your strength and you still lack finesse. Now hush while I speak.” He replied chiding her gently. She was only 9 after all.  He watched as the medics scurried around the unconscious moaning man. He glanced to his other side where their host watched the same action with mild amusement and scorn.

        “Lords, as you’ve seen from our demonstrations, and from the enthusiastic volunteering of your compatriot, that while our people on the whole are not warriors, we possess capabilities that allow us to do a great deal with those of our people that choose to become defenders. We do not seek conquest. However we will also not allow ourselves to be conquered. We came here with hopes of becoming allies to you from this time forward. It is, of course, your decision.” Bowing, he motioned for his and Vidria’s guards to lead them out. Across the room a stretch was wheeled in and the man Xavion sent through a table was wheeled out.

Earlier

        Vidria waited impatiently at the shuttle door. She may  have been an official delegate at this conference but her youth was held against her. She hadn’t been allowed off the transport ship any time except for the initial introductions.  Xavion handled all the meetings and it irritated her to no end. Why should it matter she was only 9 and still just coming into her power? She wanted to help, to know what was going on. If she had known that her entire job was going to be sitting around waiting  she would have stayed at the Sanctuary with her friends.          

        She paced for what felt like hours.  Her skybear floated gently around her head, a clawed and toothed snowball. It bit at dustmotes and pieces of hair. Occasionally it would be able to distract her from her long wait by floating too high and getting pulled up against a ventilation grate. It was after all, just a cub. She ended up having to climb the wall repeatedly, using the decorative moulding lining the top for finger grips.  The shuttle docked and Xavion stepped out while she was holding the creature by its foot trying to convince it to unpuff and unstick itself from the ceiling..

        “‘Zavion!” She shouted dropping the few feet to the floor. “What happened? When can I go down? What’s going on? How much longer is it going to take? When can I get off this dumb ship? Taco is getting cranky and tired of getting sucked into air grates. He wants to know when we can go explore.” Vidria exploded into words and motion before the dock door had a chance to close completely behind him.         

        Xavion’s guards rolled their eyes at the small girl. She may be the Paragon, she may be one of the two strongest of their people, she may one day be a great leader, right now, she was a talkative and loud little girl underfoot. Xavion smiled slightly and waved his guards away knowing their frustration from remembering his own so long ago.

        “Walk with me child.” He said as he made his way down to his own rooms. The skybear perched on her head and the three of them made their way down a labyrinth of hallways. Xavion walked slowly as Vidria bounced along around him. She skipped a yard or two ahead and then circled around him as he tried to explain what happened in that days negotiations to the young girl.

        “Everything is proceeding well. It seems however that our future allies would like a demonstration of what we mean when we say that most of our people are gifted. I don’t enjoy being trotted out like a circus animal, but this is an extremely important alliance. Each house is going to give a small demonstration of some of their lesser skills. I will not be standing for Night, I believe Isadora, the head of my guard would be quite honored to have that opportunity. Plus between you and I, little one, it would be good if she got used to being the center of attention. So she will stand in for Night. If you would like, and if you can contain your overriding desire to show off, you will be allowed to stand for Day. Do you think you can handle that?”

        A puff of light exploded of Vidria’s skin. She glanced at it quickly, slightly annoyed but squealed as she spoke.  “Really! I get to go down! And show off! Oh this is going to be so much fun!” Vidria squealed as she hugged Xavion. “I’ve got to go get ready!”

 She snatched Taco off her head, causing him to puff up in surprise and went to take off running down the hallway. Xavion satched her braids before she could scamper away and lifted her off of the ground.  She winced as her head jerked back. She closed her eyes as she concentrated on making a semi-solid stand from the ambient light in the hallway. A glow began beneath her feet, mellow first but soon quickly seeming to solidify.

“You are not to show off.” Xavion said sternly as she finally opened her eyes. There were tears in the corner of her eyes from being held so long by her braids but they were quickly fading.  “This is not your school where you can make a spectacle of yourself. If these people truly find out what you and I are, what we are capable of they will likely kill us both. Understood?” Vidria nodded and he released her hair. A cascade of black and gold braids fell to her waist as he continued to speak. “It is time for you to learn the importance of what we truly do for our people. One day you are going to be doing what I am doing and I won’t have it said that I did train you properly.”

Vidria eyed him curiously. It was the first time that he had scolded her outside of  training. She thought about his words as he stared back at her. Eventually the tension was broken when he laughed. “I’m not planning on going anywhere tomorrow child, but you are too sure of yourself and arrogant. I just wanted to remind you of what we are truly here for.” He kissed the top of her head and sent her on her way.

           The next morning a full delegation waited to unload the surface shuttle. Vidria was so excited that she practically vibrated next to her guards. Each house was represented and resplendent in their official regala. Each had sent the strongest or most qualified representative down on this mission. She peeked over House of Water’s representative, at Xavion and smiled. He was standing between his guards, along with the new Lord of the House, Varis Evernight. They were deep in conversation, with Varis looking more and more upset with every word. She saw Xavion pat his shoulder and  waved quickly at them as they waited for the shuttle to secure and the doors to open. Xavion waved back and Varis smiled. He seemed unsure to her, like trying on new clothes. The door opened as Vidria’s thoughts tried to make sense of the new leaders uncomfortableness.

        The light flowed into the shuttle and she vaguely heard everyone in House of NIght groan. She knew, intellectually, that the longer they stayed in such a brightly light area the more uncomfortable they would become. Eventually, if they were forced to stay in light for days at a time they would end up ill. If it was some sort of sunlight, their skin would start to bubble and their eyes would become less and less effective, rendering them blind. She knew she should be worried about Xavion, as old as he was. Instead Vidria just giggled. It was hardly bright to her. House of Day evolved on desert sands in the hottest, brightest part of their world. There would be times in the year when there was no darkness.Her body radiated a small aura of light, though no one outside Day could see it,  and she could use it just as any of her other senses.

        The committee walked out of the shuttle and through the ornate grounds of the Imperial meeting hall. People walked every which way past them, occasionally snatching a glance to see who these delegates were. Vidria, every so often, looked back at her mentor, and tried to copy his cool demeanor. She failed magnificently. The people walking around her were not just humanoid, as she was. Two lizard people sat talking on a bench. One waved a sheaf of paper around as the second just crossed its arms. Something or perhaps someone (Vidria wasn’t sure which) that looked like a brilliant blue cloud floated by. The cloud carefully avoided Taco as the skybear  tried to float after it.

        “Jayla,” Vidria whispered. The diplomat and spear commander turned toward the girl. “Who are they?” She asked pointing to the lizards sitting on the bench.

        Jayla sighed. “Don’t you study? Those are Draconians. They are from a distant end of the Empire. They seem to be exceptionally good engineers. I’m sure that Water will want to meet them.”         

        “Their clothes are so beautiful. Do you think either of those ladies will let me touch them when we are done. I really want to see how the fabric is made. I wonder if,”

        “Those aren’t ladies and hush we’re almost ready to go inside.” Jayla interpreted starkly.

        “Fine, those gentlemen and we have at least a hundred yards.” Vidria replied snappily.

        “They aren’t gentlemen either. If you studied anything, ever, you would know this.”

        “But how?”

        “They just don’t split up the way many peoples do. It’s no stranger to them than it is to me how you have Taco with you.”

        Vidria still didn’t understand. Then again she was carrying a small bear on her head and while it was completely normal to her, that could probably be considered strange as well. She filed it away for further thought and marvelled as they walked into the hall where they would be giving their demonstrations.

        “Xavion! It is good to see you this morning.” A voice called out from the other side of the hall. The owner of the voice, a tall light eyed man named Eron Keel, stood and gestured exuberantly at their entrance.

        “Greeting Eron. I believe we have arrived early. May we arrange ourselves?” Xavion said. He had been leading the negotiations for the past few week and was the only one comfortable at this rather unorthodox greeting.

        “Of course, of course. Please, come in all of you and make yourselves comfortable.” Eron gestured to the edges of the hall and the various houses began to disperse to their seats.

        Xavion gestured for Vidria. her guards, and the House of Day’s Lady to follow him to the other end of the room. Vidria moved in close to her mentor and followed him with wide cautious eyes.

        “Greetings Little Warrior,” Eron said politely bowing as Xavion and Vidria came closer.

        “Good day Emperor Eron. I hope the day finds you well.” Vidria replied smiling.

        “Please, just call me Eron, Little One. You are one of the few people who have the right too as we are equals within our respective peoples.” Eron spoke cheerfully, reseating himself in the center of a long dark wood table.

        “As you wish sir. However, since we are equals I would appreciate if you would call me by my name. Certainly it is not to hard for you too say. I am made aware every day of my stature by Xavion. I would like it well if someone treated me as an equal.” Vidria replied as she bowed and took her seat.

        Eron laughed uproariously as Vidria’s guards and Dayana, the Lady of the House glared at her forwardness.

        “As you request my Lady. I certainly wish that more of my own people had the grace to speak the way you do at such a young age.”

        As the delegation settled the rest of the Emperor's court and advisors entered. Vidria noticed the difference between her own people and the people that Eron ruled immediately. Her own people seemed plain, almost severe in comparison to the courtiers settling around the hall. The dress she wore she considered ornate, and yet it was overshadowed by the various flowing, glittering, sparkling clothing that some wore. Vidria was struck again by the revelation that some of the ambassadors from other areas of this vast empire looked more like creatures from stories. She heard Xavion and Eron discussing details of the agreement and couldn’t bring her mind around to listen.

“Are we ready?” Xavion asked eventually.

“Yes, I believe so. “ Eron replied.  Standing up he raised his hands and the room grew silent around him. Vidria leaned back in her seat as Eron made an official greeting and called their assembly to order. Listening closely she realized that everyone there knew what was going to happen next and were just as impatient as she was to see a spectacle.  Xavion to her left tapped his foot restlessly. she knew he did not like the idea of this, but they agreed that it was the best course of action.

“Please, Xavion , if you would begin.” Eron said after the proprieties had been taken care of.  Xavion nodded and motioned for the first group to come out.

Four of the elementals from the house of air came walked into the arena. Three of them in rainbow robes lifted off of the ground as the fourth, a young man looking to be only 16 years old spoke. He described the dance they were doing and how their house were spiritual leaders for their people. He hovered only a few feet of the floor his legs curled beneath him.

Vidria watched as the three above him soared in patterns with no means of support. Their robes flashing colors and they danced around and through eachother's paths. She looked around gauging the reaction of the room and while most were entertained and some even amazed there was a small group in the far right that seemed unimpressed. Finally, after only a few minutes they landed just as gently as the lifted and bowed.

House of Earth came next. They had actually brought students with them as there were two who were showing exceptional skill. Vidria knew the oldest, Kellith, as she practiced with him on a regular basis. She waved at him and she saw him roll his eyes. His skin was piebald like a snake and like all from House of Earth with that coloration he was able to shape change. She watched Kellith as the teacher spoke, his features shifting from a normal, if nervous man, to those of a snake. His eyes grew wider, his skin took on an iridescent sheen and when he moved it was with the boneless motion of a snake. He still stood 6 feet tall, and his arms were still arms, but where his legs once were were now what to most appeared to be two tails. He used one to launch himself upward and another to grab on to the various railing and banisters around the room.  

House of Fire and House of Water came afterwards. Each house showing off their various skills. Vidria watched as people grew nervous about the hulking form that a Fire-changer could take. They grew even more nervous when Diedre from House of Water started whispering secrets that no one should have known in the ears of those who knew them. It was becoming more and more evident to Eron and his people why this alliance was the better of the two options.         

Eron seemed to be enjoying this with the joy of a child at a fair. She could see the irritation in Xavions face, but she could see why he agreed to this. It was certainly a much faster way of convincing these people that their system was something that would be much more valuable as an ally. Xavion and Vidria watched as Isadora not only took out three of Eron’s personal guard but jumped into his personal booth and drank his drink. He roared in laughter though the rest of his guard looked as though they were going to faint.

Finally it was Vidria’s turn. She walked down the stairs to the main floor of the hall. As she said earlier to the Emperor, she knew she was never going to be tall but staring up at the eyes in steps of chairs around her she noticed just how small she was. She looked around and found Xavion, who nodded at her encouragingly. Kellith stuck his tongue out at her, and Jayla, sweet impatient Jayla waved her hand as though to motion her to hurry up.

Vidria smiled and disappeared in a burst of light. She darted around the room sending out rivers of light that changed colors from visible to infrared. She not only popped back to the Emperors booth but instantly changed the lighting from the soothing dim it was to blindingly bright. She landed back on the floor instantly and used the energy from the light to send out blades that sliced the dummies the had put out in half and then again into quarters. Her presentation only lasted around a minute, but in that time she had reduced half of the figures in the show area to slivers and had blinded a quarter of the room. Temporarily, of course. She bowed to the Emperor, who she could see was smiling, and made her way to the stairs.

Eron stood, but before he could speak another man did. Vidria noted him earlier on as the apparent leader of those who seemed unhappy with their presence and their insistence on alliance.

“Majesty, these heathen, these circus performers have shown us thing that we can already do with the technology we have. With technology we have had for decades if not longer. They are wasting the assemblies time with their performances and feeling of self-importance. They are of no use to us. Most of their people do not fight, and could not stand in a real fight if it weren’t for their ability to get out of the way. I demand to be allowed to show them what a real warrior can do!” The man’s entourage yelled in agreement and Vidria noted that a good deal of others around the room nodded.  

Isadora stood up and made her way toward the stairs. Kellith jumped the rail down the the exhibition floor his body morphing to it’s fighting state. Samus and Andra from House of Fire also stood, small fires starting in their hands as their bodies began tripling in size. Even Vidria took her shoes back off and made from the stairwell. Until Xavion stood up. Every Navari froze in their motion, their eyes growing wide as the old man removed his ornate jacket to reveal the simple shirt he wore beneath. He motioned for all of them to sit back down and they sat immediately where they were.  Even Eron stopped smiling as he watched the docile old man he had been dealing with for the past few months begin to walk down the stairs.

Vidria followed him.

“‘Zavion, are you sure about this? I can take care of it. I promise I won’t hurt him to bad. Really, I wont. I think Isadora could do it too. She might hurt him pretty bad though. She had that face.” Vidria rambled as she tried to keep up with him going down the stairs.

“I will handle it. I want this over with. I may be tired after.” Xavion said as they reached the bottom stair. He motioned for Kellith to head back to his own seat and the young man nodded and scampered.

“Are you ready sir?” Xavion asked as the hulking man who objected came to the floor.

Vidria and the rest of the delegation could hear murmurs from around the room. No one understood what was about to happen. She could hear the group that had objected laughing. Joking that they would be careful not to hurt the man to bad. That there would be something left to bury. Xavion didn’t move.

Then he did.

The room turned navy blue and back as Xavions aura pulsed from his body. The man stood watching as the room around him grew darker and it seemed the very shadows cast out from the wall lights began to claw at him. Xavion took a step forward and left nothing but pits of darkness where he had stood. The man now grew quiet as his entourage began shouting encouragement. “You can’t scare us with your trick.” “Oh great another light show.”

In a single motion Xavion crossed the dozen yards between him and the man. He stopped only inches from the man's face. The man yelled as he drew not only a gun from his his hip but also a blade from his back and lunged at Xavion. Xavion took both wounds. He didn’t blink or flinch. The man stepped back and raised his hands in triumph. Xavion lifted him by the scruff of his neck and threw him face first into the high stone wall. The man fell without a sound. Xavion bowed to the man, removed the dagger from his shoulder and tossed it on the ground.

Xavion walked sedately back to his seat as medics swarmed around him. His wide black pants moved in time with his steps making his legs look bigger than they were. Vidria sat wide-eyed in her chair, with a smirk playing at the corner of her lips.

        “I could have done that.” She whispered to the old man as he returned to his spot next to her.

        “You would have ripped his legs off child. You don’t know your strength and you still lack finesse. Now, hush while I speak.” He replied chiding her gently. She was only 9 after all.  He watched as the medics scurried around the unconscious moaning man. He glanced to his other side where their host watched the same action with mild amusement and scorn.

        “Lords, as you’ve seen from our demonstrations, and from the enthusiastic volunteering of your compatriot, that while our people on the whole are not warriors, we possess capabilities that allow us to do a great deal with those of our people that choose to become defenders. We do not seek conquest. However, we will also not allow ourselves to be conquered. We came here with hopes of becoming allies to you from this time forward. It is, of course, your decision.” Bowing, he motioned for his and Vidria’s guards to lead them out. Across the room a stretch was wheeled in and the man Xavion sent through a wall was wheeled out.