Currying Favor

By Janice Mergenhagen and Armand Banooni

As Rook approached the Imperial Palace, he thought about the messenger 
that brought the summons from Empress Azarra, asking him to come to the 
Palace this morning. He'd been only too willing to accept such an invitation.

Security had been increased since the Empress came to stay. The Guards 
at the first checkpoint made sure he had no weapons and the second ones made 
sure he was expected. Then he was led to an elevator, sent to the 15th level 
and met there by a Red Guard who escorted him into an elegant 
meeting/reception room. A huge desk and very comfortable chairs took up most 
of the space; the walls were lined with bookshelves and very expensive art. 
The room was empty, so he just stood and waited.

A few minutes later, the Empress entered through a door at the far end of 
the room and said, "Good morning, Rook. Thank you for coming on such short 
notice. I do hope this meeting is not keeping you from any of your Household 
duties. I wouldn't want Lady Darana to be angry with me."

"Good morning, Your Majesty. Have no fear of keeping me from my duties. 
Darana knows I am here and approves. I am only too glad to be of service."

Azarra graciously offered him some refreshment and after pouring 2 
glasses of a deep red fruit juice herself, sat in one of the comfortable 
chairs and indicated that he should do the same. "You mentioned an idea of 
how to deal with this droid situation. Since 'blast them all' and 'mind wipe 
them all' are the only suggestions I have gotten from the Imperial advisors, 
I thought a fresh perspective was needed to this far-reaching problem. "
"I agree, Your Majesty, hence my boldness in even suggesting a solution."

She continued, "I don't think these advisors appreciate how deeply 
entrenched the droids could be. Surely it would be impractical to mind wipe 
thousands of droids. How would you handle this?"

Rook paused to gather his thoughts, took a sip of his drink and then 
replied, "In my humble opinion, you have a great number of droids that are 
considered property. They perform functions that the Empire has come to rely 
upon. If you deny them citizen status and the Alliance grants it, you now 
have a situation where the droids will want to defect, giving them more 
numbers and robbing The Empire of resources."

Azarra interjected, "From what I understand, the Alliance has already 
granted citizenship to any who wish it. If we are talking about a few hundred 
droids, The Empire could handle that. But, what if it's thousands?"

"That is exactly why you should grant them the same. With citizenship, 
they have an incentive to stay. You can force them to take jobs, tax them, 
and even draft them into the military service, perhaps in the front lines, 
where they cease to be a problem if they are killed. At present, they are 
unable to reproduce. . ."

Azarra was about to take another drink, but stopped, startled. 

"Reproduce? Do you think that's a possibility? I must admit that robotics 
was not part of a Princess' education."

"They cannot reproduce, as we know it. It would be more like copying 
files and assembling duplicates. I don't know if they have thought of this. 
But, as citizens, they fall under the law like anyone else. They must obey 
or be prosecuted. Rules can then be created as problems arise."

Azarra thought a few moments, rose and took a seat behind the desk then 
replied, "I fear that the Emperor will not see the rationality behind this 
point of view. I'm not even sure who will make the final decision. His 
Majesty is not big on diplomacy. So, you suggest granting them citizenship 
with certain restrictions?"

He nodded.

"Does Lady Darana share your viewpoint . . . or is it none of my 

"I did not ask what Darana thought of this, but she did say it sounded 
like an interesting plan and that I had given it a great deal of thought."

"I appreciate your taking the time both to think about this and to 
explain it to me. I will be compiling all the suggestions with appropriate 
pros and cons and giving it to His Majesty if he wishes to see it. Someone 
will render a final decision. Your input has been very helpful. Is there 
anything I can do for you?"

"I am happy to be of any service I can, Your Majesty. I did not do this 
for recompense, merely to serve, so I cannot think of anything."

"Well, if there ever is anything that I might be able to do for you, you 
will let me know, won't you? I will be certain to tell His Majesty how 
helpful you have been. It did not seem as if you two were on the best of 
terms during the throne room audience at Port Lansing."

Rook seemed slightly abashed. "I had spoken out of turn and made a 
request, Your Majesty. There are not many who do that. I can understand his 

"Perhaps he will reconsider your request when he finds out how helpful 
you have been. I'm sure you must have other duties to attend to, so I won't 
keep you any longer, unless you have something else you'd like to add. Thank 
you for your opinions on this matter. I found your frankness refreshing."
Inclining his head, Rook replied, "You continue to flatter me, Your 
Majesty. I am doing my job, as I believe everyone should. Feel free to call 
upon me again should you have the need." 

Rising from behind the desk, she said, "If all our citizens were as loyal 
as you, we would have far fewer problems than we do now. Thank you, again, 
for coming, and please give my best to Lady Darana."

"I reflect the values we try to instill and uphold in all of the members 
of the house. I will, indeed, give her your best, Your Majesty."

He rose from his chair, bowed slightly, and left.

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