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Erwin Radovic waited in the grand reception room. He had been sitting for a while, looking at the marvelous artwork displayed.

Long days had passed since his arrival, most spent walking the streets of the capital. The city was far larger than he expected, and no surveillance reports could change that. Running water and central heating made him reevaluate the ability of the people living on Otherworld, but then Verd was supposed to be an exception. Exception or not, the mere existence of the city proved what could be done, even if the inhabitants here had chosen not to repeat the wonder elsewhere.

Erwin leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath. They were finally coming to an understanding where the Terran Federation would be allowed to drastically expand the capacity of the launch port in exchange for some military help, and the offer was too good to be discarded. Besides, Clayton had put him in this mess. Clayton could bloody well clean it up afterwards if he didn't like the deals Erwin struck here.

One of the first meetings with the local officials had resulted in couriers being sent in search of the assault group Heinrich Goldberger commanded. They were apparently needed elsewhere, and at least that need was one Erwin fully supported. He wouldn't go home without handling Christina Ulfsdotir's insane rampage with hired thugs in some kind of vendetta aimed at Arthur Wallman.

Now the locals had promised to transport the entire assault group by means they wanted to keep secret, and today's meeting would handle the extraction procedure.

More details, but details Erwin was content to discuss. There was very little he could do now, but the prospect of launching several shuttles per day within a few years was worth his playing at being a diplomat. Earth desperately needed a lively relationship with Otherworld. The actual trade was of little worth, but Otherworld presented something of much higher value.

Surveys during the eleven years Theta 47 had been an orbital station revealed what he'd suspected all along, and now they were sending probes through the multitude of gates present in Otherworld space. Two of those probes had entered other solar systems with planets habitable. None Earth-like, but with decent gravity. Atmospheres not too corrosive combined with temperatures well within those on Earth. Interstellar travel was a dream come true after all, even if in a way no one could possibly have foreseen.

Colonists and traders would need a resort midway through their journeys, and Otherworld was perfectly suited. Close enough, Earth like, and with a magic of its own that would attract millions of humans. An attraction enough to make people strike out as pioneers once again.

Who knew? Sometime in the future the trade might become worthwhile in itself, but that was a future generation or more away, and Erwin concentrated on matters closer at hand.

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