Part 8

"The glider will be leaving any moment!" Reecho scolds you as you hurry toward the transportation hub, still digesting the last bits of a hastily finished brunch. "The next one's not for days! Don't worry about the research, I'll begin cataloging my old findings while you're away. Now go! We need you to win this grant!"

The glider trip is long. Miles of uninterrupted grasslands fill the planet surface once you leave Trebulin, only giving way to the low yellow brick buildings of Arbulin after several hours. A few Felisi regard you with curiosity as you disembark in the city center, but Amele gets directions to the Dueling School of the Golden Shoes before a crowd can gather. Meandering alleyways lead you through a quiet neighborhood to a sun-baked brick wall with a gate in the center. A sign showing a pair of elegant golden slippers hangs over the front gate. This must be the place.

Inside the gate, several juvenile Felisi stand in rows, holding ready stances and staring intently at their short instructor who leads from the front of the courtyard. "Kestme," she addresses one of the students, "fourth form and axiom!"

Kestme steps forward and begins a complicated series of movements, reciting clearly between each one. "A sharp sword--" slash step, "--means nothing--" swing turn, "--if one's mind is--" thrust, "--dull." She freezes for a second after the final word and then smiles proudly before stepping back into line.

"Good. Keep your toes light on the second motion so you can pivot if your opponent lunges first. Know your movements so well that you can strike from either side. Know your argument so well that you can pick up a new thread of discussion if the old one is failing." She spots you loitering at the gate and addresses the class as a whole. "Drill time. Break into pairs and work through forms five through seven while I entertain these guests."

The instructor waves you through into a low office and Amele explains the purpose of your visit. "I see," the instructor says. "You seek the Golden Shoes Champion. She has become very discerning in the selection of her clientele. She Championed for the Neeble-Woobers when they sought compensation for the lost Roobur Lake water, and she earned great acclaim by winning trading rights for the Sechwin Nomads in the Trebulin Capital Market. Why should she Champion your cause? Money won't persuade her, the golden shoes came with a matching purse and she wants for nothing. Try to trick her and she'll have you back on the glider home alone, believing it was all your idea. Present your argument at the end of my class."

She returns to the courtyard leaving you in the office to think. How will you convince the instructor that the Golden Shoes should be your Champion? Should you gain her sympathy by emphasising that you are outsiders from very far away, cut off from home and in need of a good Champion? Or should you flatter her and explain that while she's already well-known on Araveen, working with new and unique aliens such as yourselves will increase her profile across the Federation? Either way, only the very best Champion on Araveen can possibly argue your case before the Pride.

Flattery will get you nowhere, because nobody voted for it. Well, some of you did, but we're far more sympathetic to option 1, above! Click on it to continue.

(22%) Flatter Her.