The Solitude of Death, Part 11

Adlamor Finegal was deep in meditation when an aide knocked on his door and told him the studio was ready. Embamor II had died only a few hours earlier, and Finegal was wasting no time in claiming the throne. He had prepared his speech several weeks ago, and he had rehearsed it many times. The people of the Empire and the rest of the galaxy would soon know that a true Emperor had taken control.

He rose slowly, and made his way to the studio. He was wearing a gloriously expensive robe, as befit his new station. His hair and makeup had been carefully done by an army of stylists employed by the Palace, to the point where he felt like a different person. He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror as he passed by and didn’t recognize himself at first. It was an odd feeling, but it was necessary. It was time for greasy, sallow Adlamor Finegal to give way to the grand and regal Emperor Preclonus IV.

He had thought about calling himself Adlamor I, but he recognized that his claim to the throne was very tenuous. He needed a name that people would associate with stability and tradition and strength. Preclonus III had been the grandfather of Empress Emella II, whose death had been the trigger for the war with Fangalin. He had become Emperor at the age of 24, and ruled until his death at 91. People still remembered the reign of Preclonus III as a golden age of stability and prosperity, and Finegal believed that people, especially those who had been alive during those days, would associate the name of Preclonus with those qualities, and be more likely to rally behind him.

He entered the studio and took his place behind the podium. He waited while the director announced to the people of the galaxy that all current content was being temporarily suspended for an address by the Emperor, and then he assumed a somber expression and began reading his speech.

“People of the Empire,” he began, “I am Adlamor Finegal, Chief Advisor to His Grace Emperor Embamor II, and it is my solemn duty to tell you some unfortunate news. Approximately three hours ago, a group of terrorists broke into the Imperial Palace and murdered the Emperor in his quarters. The terrorists attempted to flee after they had committed their sordid deed, but were hunted down and eliminated by brave men and women of the Legion of the Heart. Emperor Embamor II was a courageous and strong ruler, and his presence will be sorely missed.

“As the Emperor had no heirs, and as we are still in the process of electing a new Senate, there is no simple and effective way for us to choose his successor. However, as we are at war with a ragtag collection of traitors and scoundrels, the need for leadership is great. Therefore, I have decided to take on the heavy burden of ascending to the throne, so as of this moment, I am no longer Adlamor Finegal, but Emperor Preclonus IV.

“I assure you, my reign will be as long and as prosperous as that of my namesake, whose reign some of you still remember. Emperor Preclonus III presided over one of the greatest periods in our glorious Empire’s history, but the reign of Preclonus IV will be even greater! I will crush the Empire’s enemies under my heel, and I will bring forth peace and justice and wealth for all loyal citizens of the Empire! Put your faith and your trust in me, citizens, and I promise I will lead you to a new golden age!”

Short, sweet and to the point. As he left the podium and returned to his quarters, Emperor Preclonus IV felt that with that speech, his reign was off to a truly spectacular beginning.

***

On Numoris, Supreme Commander Zhemeen Fortulis and Councilor Dren Calabane were watching the coverage of the new Emperor’s speech together. For the first time, it seemed as if the shadow cast by Calabane’s father over both men was starting to lift. Fortulis was realizing that Calabane was not trying to undermine him, and Calabane was realizing that Fortulis needed all of his support if the war with the Empire was going to be a success.

Both of them were pleased with the results of the operation so far. Although it was unfortunate that their agents were killed in the course of doing their duty, the new Emperor seemed like he was at least as big a fool as the old one, and maybe more so. The ultimate demise of the Empire seemed like even more of a sure thing than ever.

***

Haasadis Ventelin was less pleased with the report he had gotten back from Midigal.

“What do you mean, they’re not amenable to my plans?” he growled.

“I mean exactly what I said, Haasadis,” Vor Shen responded. “The governors of Trifelimoor and Dalamaris have agreed to accept your rule, but the Merchant Council of Midigal feels they are better off sticking with Embamor II.” Ventelin cursed and spit to show what he thought of that.

“Friggin’ cowards,” he muttered, “I should lay waste to their rotten planet!”

“Wouldn’t that defeat the point of this whole enterprise, Haasadis?” Shen replied patiently, “I thought you wanted to provide Midigal with the glory it so richly deserves?” Ventelin sighed and rolled his eyes.

“I know, I know,” he said, “I’m just getting impatient, is all.” He opened his mouth to say more, and then he closed it as one of his lieutenants signaled to him. “Hold on, Shen. One of my men has news.” He turned to the lieutenant. “Well, what is it?”

“General, we’re receiving word from Trisitania that Embamor II has been assassinated and Adlamor Finegal has ascended to the throne!” the lieutenant said.

“WHAT!” Ventelin bellowed, and then he laughed uproariously. “Well, what do you think about that, Shen?”

“I think this improves our position with the Merchant Council immensely,” Shen said with a small smile. “I will send our representatives back to Midigal immediately.”

The End

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