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.Given that this was an economic summit, Gji's "exaltation" undoubtedly referred to the wealth of the empire."It is our desire to see the rise continue," Gji said.Jaibriol watched Tarquine, noting her perfect composure, and he suddenly knew she expected this.A tickle started in his throat.She claimed Gji had softened to the idea of trade with the Skolians, but that was only a first step.Surely Gji wouldn't put the matter to a vote now; without extensive preparation, probably over a period of years, such a vote would never pass."At its highest," Gji continued, "our exaltation will spread throughout settled space."A ripple of chimes came from the amphitheater as Aristos tapped their finger cymbals in approval of his implicit suggestion that Eube should conquer the rest of humanity, as if owning two trillion people wasn't enough."Many avenues of commerce exist," Gji said."Some venture into exotic realms.Fertile realms rich with resources."More cymbals chimed, and Aristos discreetly opened their hands on their consoles with palms facing upward, expressing their curiosity.Jaibriol just wanted him to get to the flaming point.So far it sounded as if he were suggesting the usual, that they conquer those exotic realms, which was no more obtainable today than at the last two hundred summits."New avenues can mean new means of travel," Gji added.No cymbals chimed.New was not a favored word among Aristos.They sought to operate, think, and act as one mind.Variation was anathema.On the dais, Tarquine gave the appearance of listening with a posture that suggested wary attention.She no doubt fooled everyone else, but Jaibriol knew better.Gji had said exactly what she wanted to hear."New is always a risk," Gji said, acknowledging the unease in the amphitheater."Unless, of course, it adds to the exaltation of Eube.It might then inspire a call for concord."Ah, hell.Jaibriol clenched the edge of his console.A "call for concord" meant Gji wanted to vote now.Surely he didn't mean the trade expansion.They had no preparation.It would fail miserably.Jaibriol stood behind his console, and the rumbles died in the amphitheater.Tarquine looked up at him with a calm face, but he sensed her alarm.He wasn't certain himself what he intended, he only knew he couldn't sit here while events spiraled out of his control.Jaibriol spoke, and his comm sent his voice out to the spinning orbs."You orate well, Minister Gji." In truth, Highton discourse annoyed Jaibriol no end, but what the hell.It was true Gji had mastered the style."We are, after all, the Eubian Concord."Gji bowed to him.Every screen in the amphitheater showed him as an inset, with Jaibriol as the main figure.Jaibriol hardly recognized himself.He stood tall and somber, broad-shouldered, dressed in black with his black hair glittering, his eyes like rubies, his face with the bone structure that supposedly made him one of the most handsome men alive.He hated what he saw, the Highton emperor."You honor our proceedings with your voice," Gji said.Tarquine said nothing, but she lowered her barriers and let a warning fill her thoughts.She had no reason to hide her efforts; no one but Jaibriol could sense what she was doing."It pleases us," Jaibriol said, "that you wish for more concord in our exaltation.""I am honored, Your Highness," Gji said.That was certainly different from Gji's chill disinterest when Jaibriol had met with him over dinner.Jaibriol didn't want to remember what had changed the Minister's attitude."It would please us even more," Jaibriol said, "to hear how we might achieve this greater exaltation."Gji raised his head."The exotic realms of humanity control much wealth.To bring that wealth into concord with our own goals might be achieved by means other than Annihilators."A shocked, discordant clamor of cymbals broke out.Often the cymbals expressed approval, but the syncopated beat the Aristos were using now told a different story.They were angry.It had taken Gji forever to get to the point, but when he finally reached it, no one missed his meaning.He had just called for a vote on opening trade relations with the Skolians.Tarquine's voice rang out over the clamor."Minister Gji, the Clerk in Session will attend your call."Jaibriol stared at her.Her response was required; as the Minister who presided, she had to attend such details as whose clerk did what.But he knew her too well; she had set up this vote.Why? It was certain to fail.Perhaps that was the intent.She might have never wanted him to succeed.Jaibriol had to make a decision.Only he could stop the call.No one would object if he made that choice, but it would do great damage to his hopes that it might pass another time.If he let the call go forward, it would also fail.Either way he lost.He watched Tarquine, wondering why she had done this.He made his decision.As a clerk approached Gji, Jaibriol resumed his seat.That he hadn't objected didn't mean he agreed with the call, but it allowed the vote to proceed.For a ballot this outrageous, even if delegates suspected it had his support, that wouldn't stop them from voting against it.If anything, it would increase their determination to make their positions clear.Trade with the Skolians? Anathema.With carefully laid plans over time, he might have brought around enough Diamonds to garner the support he needed.This doomed the vote to failure, but at least he wouldn't go on record as opposed to the idea.The clerk who took Minister Gji's call was a taskmaker and as such could present the ballot in direct language.It read simply: Proposal: the Eubian Concord offer to open trade with the Skolian Imperialate for foods and curios [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]