Artist: Angelo Badalemante - Song: Twin Peaks Theme
Cultural minutiae may not have been Valentine's forte, but he was certainly more than aware of them in the most intellectual sense. The guard said that Hayden and Valentine were not equals, and with that, the Wizard of Mars could only agree, though perhaps not for the reasons one would generally have argued. Desmond Hayden was a man of the Earth. Valentine, of course, was not. That alone meant that, though Valentine's mission was the Blue Planet's well-being, Hayden's word did carry more weight, that his authority was greater.
Despite what the guards may have thought, Valentine had little desire to show any impropriety to the king. Much the contrary, in fact. He was, after all, a man whose people lived and died by the nature of their hierarchy. The Collective's rankings were what defined society, and so if anything, Valentine felt he likely put far more weight upon Hayden's status than nearly anyone on this Earth. It was simply the nature of a collective to value a leader beyond all else.
"The pleasure is all mine, King Desmond. Is that acceptable titleage? I'm afraid we don't know exactly what my relative position to you might be to determine the appropriate nomenclature. My people and I have been discussing it for quite some time."
That much was actually true, though of course the vague wording made it such that any listener would be unable to glean the full extent of it. Valentine had put perhaps more thought into this question than the Collective thought really necessary at first, though due to its nature as being wholly alien to them, it naturally became a debate which reached the entirety of the Martian people. What might Valentine's "royal" credentials be? Would he qualify as nobility when it came to his blood? It was true that his blood was (quite literally) the same as the Elders, and that he had been raised by them personally. That would, they supposed, make him their "heir" in Earth terms.
The followup question, then, would be whether or not the Elders constituted what Earth might consider a royal, noble, or aristocratic group. One was not born into status as an Elder, but one did gain it through power, and upon gaining such power one's authority was functionally absolute. This did align with countless stories of royalty and nobility that Mars had been able to scour from Earth's archives. It seemed, then, that they would qualify in at least some abstract sense as "royalty" or "aristocracy" from an Earth perspective. Still, that was not a title which they felt carried much use or import on Mars proper. As such, ultimately, they had decided to leave the final verdict to an Earth royal, whose grasp of the context would naturally far outweigh their own.
"Ah, but that's only a piece of all this. I would love to talk about that with you, if we can find the time, but it isn't actually why I'm here."
The Martian's cheery demeanor grew more serious, then, but his smile did not fade. While he would have liked to abandon all pretense of this facade, he would only do so when he was absolutely certain he was not being monitored. In a place like this, he had no doubt that there were countless eyes locked on his every movement. Better to continue the charade for now, and reveal his true colors when he knew only Hayden would see.
"You are the only one who fought in Karakura that I am able to speak with, King Desmond. I consider an event of that caliber to be one I must
understand to the fullest possible degree, as a Chairman of Lux Orior, and unfortunately any of my usual witnesses were destroyed in the battle. As such, I have come to ask your perspective directly."