“In fairness, I have to add that if the High Council had found you, or if they do enter talks with you, they will not approve of your circumstances,” Merdokk said. “The Corporate High Council by necessity takes a neutral role, and will not interfere in your affairs, but both you and the Tanturians would be given individual standing, and individual Corporate Representatives. You would have the opportunity to plead your case, as free-willed sentient beings, before the Council itself, and in a few decades you might be accorded dual prime sentient status. The High Council would intervene militarily, if necessary, and free you from your oppressors. They would set you up in environments on this world, or other suitable worlds. At the same time, they would do the same for the Tanturians, and make reparations for the quality of living they might lose from having to give up their slaves. However,” he leaned forward, snagged a third dough-ball, and rested his elbows on his Tanturian-skin-clad knees, “this would take time. I said ‘decades’, but it could take centuries. The High Council is a timeless organisation. There are cases of enforced slavery that they have been arguing back and forth for hundreds of thousands of years. And in the meantime, the secret of your existence would get out, and the Tanturians might decide to eradicate you, complete your enslavement. If there is no independent Fliei species outside the Tanturian kennels, then there is no debate. This might earn them censure from the High Council, but in my experience such steps are seldom a fitting punishment for genocide.”
He leaned back, and popped the pastry into his mouth.
“But you do not have to take my word for any of this,” he said. “I intend to give you the opportunity to study the Corporation, and the High Council, before coming to a decision. It is undeniable that you are consorting, at present, with a known enemy of the established government. Nothing I can tell you will be without bias. Indeed, I can provide you with material covering recent cases similar to your own, but there would be no reason for you to trust it. There is no reason for you to take my apparent candour as a sign of trustworthiness, either. The Corporation would be equally candid, and would give you the same files, but at the same time they would not be obliged to keep your presence a secret. The High Council is not by nature a covert organisation, and expects its constituents to take care of their own messes. No single group, no matter how large and powerful, can administrate the entire urverse.”
The three Fliei leaders exchanged glances that the translators, sadly, were not equipped to interpret. The Spider chose to take them as uncertainty.
“And what of the Council’s reaction when they find we have allied with you?” Eugon inevitably asked. “Will we not become criminals as well?”