The Missing Diplomat

Praxton - Book Six

by N.S. Howard

The Star Hawk continues its diplomatic mission of visiting the Rebel worlds, with the objective of establishing trade and eliminating the enslavement of Alliance citizens. Captain Julius Elmwood amends the ship’s regulation more in line with Praxton customs as new challenges appear. While part of the crew welcome the new rules, others are concerned of the repercussions of following Praxton customs too closely.

The visit to Planet Divinus initially brings forth a trade agreement with the Alliance worlds. Diplomate Tiffany Harris finds Prince Francis handsome, and his smooth manner has made her interaction with him exciting. But a turn of events has the Star Hawk preparing for military action against the Rebel world.

First Officer Morgan Regan becomes suspicious of Nallix Ellis, and accuses her of lying that she came originated from another universe.

Meanwhile, Diana Adoria’s relationship with Senior Technician Derik Holton becomes uncertain. She must choose to either submitting to his demands or ending their romance.


Chapter One


Captain Julius Elmwood sat at the head of the table in the meeting room that included the Star Hawk’s executive officers, plus Senior Diplomat Tiffany Harris and Charter of Conduct Officer Paul Thyssen.

He decided against any preliminary announcements or congratulations on the successful competition of their first mission, knowing they were eager to learn about their next one. “General Noreen Howler has instructed the Star Hawk is to proceed to the planet Divinus in the star system Coelum. Once we arrive there, we are to negotiate an agreement with the authorities governing Divinus to reduce or eliminate their trade with pirates. This can be accomplished by offering increased trade with the Alliance worlds. What we will not be doing is making any overt military threats for non-compliance regarding trade to the pirates. The belief is the Hawk Star will be sufficient to show the Alliance worlds are not standing pat to the pirate raids.”

Steermaster Nicole Redding ventured information on Divinus’ location. “The planet is at the edge of the Scutum-Centaurus arm of our galaxy. It will require three hyperspace jumps to reach there. Divinus is about one-quarter of the distance within the Rebel space boundary from the Alliance worlds.”

“What type of government do they have? I believe it’s a monarchy but I’m not sure,” Communication Officer Janice Madison asked.

“That’s a good question,” Morgan Regan responded. “And yes, you’re partially right regarding the government. The High Reeve is the king’s representative, and he appoints military advisors for most government decisions. King Louis the Fourth, although still in good health, has passed over his authority to his oldest son, Prince Francis. I suspect our negotiations will be with the military advisors, but Prince Francis will have to sign off on important agreements.”

Kelly Walling, in charge of the weapons of the Star Hawk, interjected, “If the military has a role in government decision making, can we assume they have a large military presence as well? I hope we’re not expected to assume they will have only peaceful aspirations.”

“Your concerns are noted, and we need to be wary of an attack,” Elmwood answered. “The plan is for the Star Hawk to jump to the perimeter of the Coelum system and proceed to Divinus under normal propulsion. When they detect us, we will inform them we have arrived to discuss trade. We should be far enough away from their system that we can neutralize any attack if any occurs.”

Diplomat Harris looked at her tablet. “Divinus already does some minor trade with a few Alliance worlds. These trades are not sanctioned or forbidden by the Alliance government. It is noted that in the past Divinus has facilitated the ransom payment of Alliance citizens captured by pirates. Divinus allows pirates to use its facilities to sell goods and slaves. Since they are close to the border with Alliance space, it makes sense to use Divinus as one of the Rebel worlds to initiate trade contracts with.”

“That is correct.” Elmwood nodded. “I will point out that the Rebel worlds don’t act as one entity, but support each other through special agreements and arrangements. While we can establish a trade agreement with one world, it does not mean we’ll have access to the other worlds. There is another matter concerning pirates. If possible, we would like Divinus to agree to stop taking Alliance citizens from pirates. It would be a stretch to believe they would agree not to take goods taken by pirates, but protecting our citizens is our priority.”

“Just how big is the slave trade on the Rebel worlds?” Madison asked.

“Unfortunately, it is rather large.” Elmwood frowned and continued. “The pirates will capture slaves from any world, Alliance or Rebel. They seek Alliance citizens as there is less likelihood of anyone searching for them once they reach Rebel space. Slaves in the Rebel worlds are part of the economic reality. They perform free labour and are sold and purchased as needed. Most are women, as men are more resistant to training. On Divinus, few are used as sex slaves, with the majority used for housekeeping, hospitality industry, and certain types of administrative work. The slaves are not mistreated but they lack any freedom.”

“Who will go on the trade mission?” Morgan asked.

Elmwood replied, “Morgan, I would like you to lead the trade mission and choose the personnel.”

The meeting ended, and Morgan headed toward the exit.

Charter of Conduct Officer Thyssen caught up with her. “I believe the Charter of Conduct Office should be represented at this meeting. The Charter of Conduct is an important document that helps unify all the Alliance worlds and would be a good basis to use in negotiations with the Divinus government.”

Morgan stopped walking to face him. How do I tell him the Charter of Conduct is one reason why the Rebel worlds don’t want to join the Alliance? His presence won’t help the negotiations. “I will consider your request, but I have to limit how much personnel I bring on our first meeting. I’ll discuss it later with you.”

“Very well. I believe I can help bring a positive influence on the meeting by stressing how the Office of Conduct strives to ensure fairness in all aspects of society.”

Yeah, by a million regulations. No, thank you. She returned to the command centre and went up to Elmwood. “Thank you for giving me the mission to Divinus.”

“You’re welcome. This mission is important and has the potential to test your leadership abilities. I see you as being a captain of your own ship someday, and these situations will help you prepare for that role. Having said that, I must admit I’m a tad jealous you are leading the team to negotiate a trade agreement with an important Rebel world.”

“No pressure at all. But thank you for your confidence in me.”

Janice Madison, the Communication Officer, announced, “Captain, you have a secure call from General Howling’s office. She wishes to speak to you immediately.”

“I’ll take it in the meeting room.” Captain Julius Elmwood left from his position at the back of the command centre. It was a short walk to the meeting room, and he stared at the holographic image of General Noreen Howler.

“Captain, I wanted to contact you before you left Alliance space. Communication will be more difficult without the repeater stations we have in our own territory.”


“We have been monitoring activity and communications within the Rebel worlds’ area of influence. What we have determined is that there is an increasing amount of cooperation among the Rebel worlds, such as trade agreements and a commitment to support each other in case of military conflict.”

“I see. That could have implications with our own intrusion into Rebel world space and to reach agreements with them.”

“That is our view as well. The Rebel world economy overall is getting stronger. There are many factors for this. One aspect is the activity of the pirates taking cargo and citizens from Alliance ships. The goods provide immediate economic benefit while the citizens are turned into slaves to provide free labour. The pirate attacks have increased over the past year. It is obviously a profitable enterprise for them.”

“That is not good news.” Elmwood commented.

“No, but you need to be aware of the situation as you move deeper into Rebel world space.”

“Thank you for the information, general.” Elmwood returned to the command centre, going to Steermaster Nicole Redding. “I assume you have plotted the jump sequence to the New Kairon star system, the first jump to the Coelum system.”

“Yes, sir. I can execute the sequence at any time.”

“Very good. Let’s allow time for all personnel to have lunch first. Initiate the first jump at fourteen hundred.”

“Yes, sir.” She understood his comment concerning lunch. The hyperspace jump would bother some crew members. Although scientists could not determine the reason for it, some people had stomach issues immediately after a jump. Older crew members were less bothered by it, and some never had issues with the effects of the jump. “I will make an announcement of a jump thirty minutes in advance.”

Elmwood next went over to his First Officer, Morgan Regan. “Morgan, shall we go for lunch? There are a few matters we need to discuss.”

“Of course, Master Julius.” Morgan was careful to follow the Praxton custom of always addressing a male with a salutation. Failure to do so would be considered a sign of disrespect and subject her to discipline. They adopted the Praxton customs on the Star Hawk, and Alliance crew members had to adjust to the unusual social aspects. One other was the ship’s uniform. The women’s uniform had shoes with a higher heel than normal for Alliance worlds. The skirt was shorter, and the top was more of a vest, held by two buttons on the back at each end of an open oval. The lower arms were covered by ‘phantom sleeves’, a sleeve from the wrist to the elbow and held by an elastic material. The other parts of the women’s uniform comprised of a collar and four matching cuffs. While not mandatory, most women added decorative chains to the cuffs. The chains often went from the wrist cuffs to the ring in the collar or to a chain belt. The women from Praxton often added additional chains, such as between the ankle cuffs. Other women would add a leash to the collar, holding the loose end on their wrist.

Elmwood informed Janice Madison she had the command centre and exited with Morgan. He led her to his private dining room and not the executive officer dining lounge.

Morgan sensed the conversation might not be entirely on the ship’s next mission. She hesitated at the entrance and removed her shoes. On Praxton, women removed footwear when entering a home. Although the private dining room could be used for executive dining at the captain’s discretion, she decided to view the room as if it was his personal residence.

Elmwood sat and gestured for Morgan to join him. Praxton customs dictated males walked ahead of females, sat first and were attended to first. “Lunch will be served shortly.”

She noted that he had ordered lunch and decided what they would be eating. Another Praxton custom was for the male to order food at a restaurant, and she saw this was an occasion where he was prepared to act as a Praxton male. She had hoped he would want to establish a closer relationship with her and become her guardian. “May I ask why you want to see me?”

“One is to tell you that you have done a tremendous job as my first officer. You showed command capabilities on our first mission. As we enter Rebel territory, I want you to know you have my full confidence to act when I’m not available.”

“Thank you, Master Julius.”

Two servers entered the room, one pushing a cart. Both were women and Morgan saw their uniforms were the same as her own except in colour, blue grey as opposed to her own dark blue. The collar, used to show rank, was not as wide as her own. Servers were part of a contract with military to provide service to non-critical operations. The military found there were insufficient personnel interested in a military career and contracted out some duties. The woman in charge of hospitality service on the Star Hawk was from Praxton and insisted on full compliance of the Praxton culture, adding additional chains to their cuffs.

The servers poured wine, served plates of food, and departed.

Elmwood continued. “Returning to a discussion on our first mission, we had an incident that needs to be addressed.”

Morgan took a sip of her pinot grigio. “Yes, sir. Do you mean the time I saw you naked?” On the mission, they rescued Elmwood after being accused of being a demon. He was whipped while nude, and Morgan was part of a shuttle crew that saved him. Under Praxton law, it was illegal for a female to look at a naked male who is not her guardian.

“Yes. There were mitigating factors. One, is that it was not possible for you to rescue me without seeing me undressed. You ordered the other females on the shuttle to turn their heads away from me. However, you continued to stare at me as I dressed.”

“Yes, Master Julius, I couldn’t help myself. If the same situation arose again, I must confess I would have difficulty resisting looking at you again.” Her memory returned to his body with red whip marks. Her eyes were drawn to his trimmed pubic area, to his chest, and to his sky-blue eyes. Those eyes had seen where she was looking at.

“I understand. I didn’t mind you seeing me naked. However, the fact is under Praxton rules you need to be disciplined. As captain of the Star Hawk, I should not let my personal feelings interfere with your punishment. I have some leeway in the discipline, and I have given it some thought.”

Morgan ate, drank, and listened. “I hear you, Master Julius. Whatever you decide I’m sure will be fair.”

“Since you saw me naked after they had whipped me, I have decided the same for you would be appropriate. The whip I will use will be a grade two.”

Morgan knew the grade two of the four grades would barely sting. Grade one was akin to felt strips and not considered punishment. “Understood, sir. When and where will this occur?” Is he going to publicly whip me?

“In my suite after dinner. On Praxton, females are often punished in front of others, but this time I will do so privately. Unless you prefer a whipping where others can observe you.” He grinned.

“Maybe another time.” Morgan laughed. The thought of being naked in front of others made her pulse race faster.

“Very good. On Praxton, when a male finds a female attractive and wants to pursue with the objective of being her guardian, he will notify her of his intention. Morgan, I want to be your guardian. You may inform me now if you’re not interested and I won’t follow through on this path.”

Morgan found her words sticking in her throat. “Master Julius, I would very much like you to be my guardian.”

“I understand. We should follow the proper custom of myself giving you small orders. I need to exert my control over you through discipline, such as a spanking. If, over a period, you still wish for me to be your guardian, we can take the next step.”

“I look forward to it, Master Julius.”

“Then after tonight’s punishment, I will start giving you small instructions.”


NS Howard "The Missing Diplomat, Praxton: Book 6"



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