The Royal Palace of Nitori was lavish to the point of being vulgar, the perfect location for another drinks-reception-come-press-conference. Set on an ancient volcanic plug at the heart of the city of the same name, it towered above the narrow streets and townhouses of the old walled city, and the apartment blocks of the lower classes surrounding that. Jadra pulled up in the courtyard in a brand new, cherry red sportscar, gifted to her after her successful mission to space. At first she had tried to turn it down, embarrassed. It was then explained to her that the car wasn't for her benefit, it was a symbol to show what could happen to ambitious peasant farmers if they did what they were told, and that she would be seen driving it to public events if she knew what was good for her. She'd discovered that once she looked past the ostentatiousness of the car, she could appreciate it as a piece of engineering, and when she opened it up on the winding roads back to the Estate where she grew up, it was very fun to drive.
She revved the engine one last time, enjoying the sound of the eight cylinders echoing off the walls of the building, before handing the keys to a uniformed Kerbal to park in one of the bays below the palace. Flashbulbs popped as the as she walked along the red carpet into the reception room. Giant mirrors on the walls reflected the crowds of reporters waiting to hear her story.
She walked o the front of the room, and after a short introduction from her public relations attachée, an ever present almost since her feet had first touched the ground, she began to speak. She described the acceleration of the rocket, the juddering of every rivet, the feeling as each ring staged. She'd been told she'd been received extremely well, the lower classes identifying with the way she spoke and acted, and the upper classes viewing her as a curiosity. She was always nervous standing up at these functions, but as she got into her stride, the nerves slowly eased. As she painted the picture of her capsule arcing slowly over the Tespen Sea, the light shining off the water and the clouds like delicate paint strokes far below her, she thought how strange it was that she, who could barely summon up the courage to speak at a family dinner, had a room of the most high-profile reporters and dignitaries in the country hanging on her every word. As she finished talking them through the reentry, the gradually increasing g-force, the jerk of the parachute opening, after an endless second of terror after deployment, and the surprisingly soft landing on marshy ground, the room stood and applauded her, as she stood awkwardly, soaking it all up.
Next came the questions. The usual pre-vetted stuff about how proud she must be, what a great achievement it was for the nation, and so on. Jadra's attachée picking out reporters from the crowd with a flick of her pen.
As she was answering a routine question about how it felt to be weightless, a lanky Kerbal at the back of the room, wearing glasses and a brown sweater cut across her.
"How does it feel to only have been the second Kerbal in space?"
Jadra stopped, unsure of how to respond. As she opened her mouth to speak, the Kerbal was grabbed by a security guard, and began to be dragged towards the door. He wrestled free for a second, and shouted:
"Was it worth it? All those Kerbals who died in the Javelin accident? Were their lives worth it Jadra?!"
He grunted in pain as the security guard clubbed him with his baton, before dragging him out through the door.
"Sorry Jadra", whispered her attachée, "One of the 'reporters' from some underground rag. I have no idea how he got in here, but I intend to find out. Don't worry, it won't happen again."
She then turned to address the room.
"My apologies, but Jadra has several extremely important functions to attend to this evening, as I am sure you will understand, now, if you would like to follow me through to the West Ballrom, you will be served with refreshments and have the chance to meet some of the military team responsible for the space program"
The reporters and dignitaries filed out through a giant set of gilded double doors, and Jadra was left on her own in the reception room, looking at a hundred reflections of herself in the wall mirrors.