“I suppose,” ventured Archduke Josef in Atlantean, “you and your companions have not yet had time to assess all the changes that have taken place in the past two thousand years.”
“Atlantis is no more, fallen beneath the waves,” replied Hzoreda!. “All other changes flow from that, surely?” She was leading them to the Navigator through corridors that were considerably tighter than they would have been on an airship of the same size.
Archduke Josef reminded himself that they had to fit all those colonists in somehow and the suitability of the cross corridors and niches for ambushes was a side effect of the design, not a driver of that design. “My Imperial master thought you should know the value of your time,” he handed her a folder, the papers inside written in Atlantean, “because every scholar on the planet who’s built a career and reputation on the study of Atlantis is going to want to confirm their theories by talking to actual Atlanteans. You need modern resources and there is no need for even your lowest, common pool labourers to give their time to these people. We have also taken the liberty of providing the names and contact details of several legal firms specialising in patent law in each of the major jurisdictions – your guildsmen may be able to obtain protection for some of their processes.”
“Why are you helping us this way?” She was slightly puzzled. “It cannot be in your interest to see us come to power again. We would displace you.”
“Neither is it in our interests to see you starve or be cheated,” replied the Terrencian Archduke. “I am under instructions to demonstrate the Emperor’s intentions to deal fairly with you.”
Naturally that was when the ambush hit them.
Five minutes later the attacking Atlanteans were groaning on the ground. One of them had a broken arm, another was probably concussed and there was a scattered serving of fractured ribs among them.
“How?” The one who’d led the Atlanteans down the ramp when it had first opened really looked as if he couldn’t understand what had happened. “We are Atlanteans, you are barbarians. You don’t have our advantages…”
“We’re at least as well fed as you,” Archduke Josef told him while his body guards loomed over the downed Atlanteans and the Kongoese Flight Lieutenant collected their weapons, “and we have been all our lives. Plus while you were sleeping your way to the stars and back we had two thousand years to get better at unarmed combat. Besides did you really think that no-one would ever duplicate what you did to your bodies?” The Archduke smiled and the Atlanteans cringed.