The ships that appear are huge, probably built in space, made for aesthetic sensibilities not as alien as they could have been. On board they start checking whether the system is a template.
"So I'm tempted to lead with 'we're really not half as offended as you're probably thinking and I'm really the best person to have called dibs on talking to you' but I actually have no idea what you've even been told about anything. Do I need to start with 'hi, there are aliens'?"
"On a - professional level, you could say I'm an enemy of the alternate universe version of you who's wildly unqualified to be a diplomat and works for a power hostile to my people and almost everything we care about. On a personal level, when most people involved on both sides decided to blame him personally and make him the scapegoat for their failure to get us to surrender without a fight even though all he did was follow orders, I brought him soup and played video games with him. If you stop acting like my slave it will not materially increase the chance that I decide to kill you."
That's not going to get Nelen up off the floor.
"Well, guess that's all the reassurance I have in me. Hi, you've been recruited to help us figure out what to say to your government, you don't really have a choice about it and they have your family, I'm sure you have no particular objections to that and don't really need any kind of compensation for it beyond whatever we manage to pull off for all the rest of your people, right?" There is something very brittle and bitter in his voice. "Stop acting like it will help anything for you to kiss the floor. Tell me why none of your planet's governments have picked up on the implication that we can clean reds and asked us about our willingness to do it."
He sits up a little. Not very much. "I - I don't know sir."
"I hate Amenta. I hate how useless you're being, and I hate that I can see exactly why you're doing it, and I always wanted to tell your alt not to go back to work until he was ready to dye his hair blue but I somehow don't think that would even help with your problem. Look, just - we said what we had to say to get you here. Some people are pretty angry with your alt but - he fucked up by being blue and thinking he was yellow, not by being pond scum or whatever your stupid planet thinks you are."
Nelen has absolutely no idea what to do with this!
"Our - sort of enemies, or at least not really allies - have a stranglehold on the healing magic that'd make it a good idea to share air with aliens, otherwise I'd offer you a hug. I can offer you a space suit."
Nelen doesn't want a hug! But that wasn't a question so he doesn't feel the need to offer this preference.
"Fine. Okay. Go ahead and act like a slave if that makes you happy. Would it be good for most reds to wake up clean and on another planet in a clean but otherwise identical replica of their homes? And if that happened after Amenta tried to kill them, would it be provocative?"
"- yes sir?"
"Thank you. - Hm. Actually. Would a purple act the way you're acting in this situation?"
"Didn't really think so but I would have felt really dumb if actually it had turned out that was just ordinary mildly deferential body language in Anitam. I wish you'd stop but - the only way you're going to stop is when I've gone long enough without having you tortured that you start thinking it's surprising. I could give you a ring that keeps other people away but it wouldn't do anything about projectiles or keep me from teleporting you somewhere dangerous so I don't see how it'd help."
That didn't contain any questions or orders.
"I would be completely shocked if you expressed a preference at this point but for what it’s worth I can take you somewhere else if you don’t want to be here."
"Did you fucking believe that we got them to let you out of their control out of purest malice. Are you as stupid as they are."
"I don't think I understand, sir!!"
"Honestly? Neither does anyone else. The worlds we've been to are weird, and bringing you here was something a lot of people argued for for a lot of very different reasons. But - currently my people are unaging unkillable high-tech spacefarers with no meaningful scarcity of anything except antimatter and really heavy-hitting magic. That's who we are today. When I was born it was the bronze age. Just speaking for myself here, I'm inclined to draw some conclusions from the fact that Amenta is a very comfortable planet, and the fact that our enemies think your cleanliness standards are stupid.
But, you know, I lived in a city that smelled like actual shit once, and if I traveled back in time I wouldn't kill myself in horror at the prospect of spending another day there. And I trained to go to war against people who wanted to do horrible things to my people, and I recognize what that looks like, and I'm not blinded by the fact that your hair isn't silver. I can't promise you that none of us hate you for petty reasons, or that I'm not annoyed at how hard you are to work with. But I can promise you every single Sesati in this universe old enough to have anything to say about it knows you're just an annoying person who's hard to work with, not garbage. And I supported the kidnapping plan because we didn’t otherwise have a good way to get information you have about what kinds of things would be good ways to help your people. I’m not going to cooperate with keeping you prisoner and they can’t keep you if I want to take you away. I don’t think you’re going to ask me to, because you don’t want to admit to having preferences and if you trusted us that much then you’d want to hang around helping. But if you did ask, I would get you out of here or die trying, I swear."
That's a lot of words that aren't questions or commands so if Nelen has any thoughts on any of it he's not telling.
"Do you want to recommend a course of action we can take to make it less bad for the reds when we inevitably facilitate Amenta developing robots."
That will get him to look very alarmed. "You - sir, you mentioned - cleaning - reds?"
"Yep! On the technical side it's not complicated at all, getting the Amentans to agree our solution would definitely work is one of the first things we did here. We just have this small problem where people who only barely trust us enough to say anything beyond 'yes, sir' need to cooperate with a plan where step one is that you die."