A wrathful shadow hovered over the city of Selorin, but the people who lived there were oblivious to it. The shadow belonged to the self-styled Emperor Preclonus IV, standing on a balcony of the Imperial Palace and boiling over with murderous rage. The riots that had engulfed the city were now in their seventh day, and the ISS and the Legion of the Heart had been unable (or unwilling) to do anything about it. The futility and powerlessness that Preclonus felt made him angry enough to kill somebody with his bare hands. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t solve any of his problems.
The irony of the situation was not lost on the man who was once known as Adlamor Finegal. As Finegal, he had been the puppet master. He had known all, and could manipulate anyone into doing his bidding. He had even manipulated the Fangalin leadership into assassinating the Emperor, for the sake of the One! He had been convinced that, as Emperor, his influence would only increase. But it seemed he was better suited to being the power behind the throne than on the throne itself.
For the first couple of months, things seemed to be going well. Sure, none of the provinces had given him their support, but he was working on schemes to get the most powerful provinces to fall in line. But while he was attempting to control the provinces, he lost control of the capital. He still wasn’t sure how it happened. Selorin had been almost unnaturally quiet since the destruction of the Senate. It was almost as if that event had shocked the people into paralysis, a paralysis that had lasted more than three years.
But somehow, the ascension of Preclonus IV to the throne had opened the floodgates of pent-up rage and frustration about the Empire’s situation. Preclonus had assumed that because his predecessor had seized the throne without incident, that he would be able to do the same. But he had badly miscalculated. Now he held just the Palace and its grounds, and that was it. He had contacted various generals and admirals and ordered them to come and secure Selorin and the rest of Trisitania, but had received only silence in reply. The only military force that obeyed his orders was the Legion of the Heart, and even their obedience was just on the surface.
Deep down inside, Preclonus knew that his short reign was already over, but he refused to allow himself to accept such thoughts. He was the puppet master. He was the one who knew everything that was going on in the galaxy, and could manipulate anyone into anything. He would find a way to salvage this situation, and his reign would be remembered as the most glorious of any to ever sit on the Imperial Throne.
He was jolted out of his thoughts suddenly by an alert from his tablet. He pulled it out of one of the many pockets of his voluminous robes, and swore loudly and angrily when he saw what was displayed on the screen. He immediately called up his chief aide, a young man named Vemnor Halais. A few seconds later, a holographic projection of Halais’s face appeared in front of him.
“What the hell is the meaning of this!” screamed Preclonus immediately. Halais cringed at the anger in the Emperor’s voice.
“I don’t know any more than what I sent you, Your Majesty,” Halais whimpered. “I just received this news a few minutes ago, and sent it on to you immediately. I’m trying to get more information, but our network just isn’t what it used to be.”
“That’s no excuse!” Preclonus screeched hysterically. “I should have known about this news weeks ago!”
“I’m sorry, Your Majesty!” Halais said desperately. “I will get you more information as soon as I can! I promise!” And then the connection was severed abruptly.
Preclonus ran back into his quarters as fast as his ridiculous outfit would let him. He needed to get out of there. He began changing as fast as he could into a much more practical outfit, and as soon as he was done with that, he started packing everything he thought he could realistically take with him. Rage and terror were warring on his face and in his actions, with terror gaining the upper hand.
The reason for his panic was still displayed on the screen of his tablet, which lay discarded on the floor by the door to the balcony. On the screen were these words:
Agents report that Jimalin Redlamin has amassed a fleet of five cruisers and twelve destroyers. That fleet has been gathering near Bliddle for the past two months, and two hours ago, it dropped into subspace. All indications are that it is heading for Trisitania!
Emperor Preclonus IV had no fleet. He didn’t even have a single warship. All he had were a thousand ISS officers, and the 2000 men and women of the Legion of the Heart, whose loyalty was doubtful. His only hope was to get off of Trisitania. If he was still there when Redlamin arrived, his life was forfeit. All of the thoughts he’d been suppressing about the imminent end of his reign came up to the surface, and he suddenly realized the truth of them. The best he could hope for now was survival.
Having finished packing, he opened the door of his quarters, only to find two burly and heavily armed guards blocking his way.
“What is the meaning of this!” he shrieked. “Get out of my way!” The guards smiled nastily and shook their heads.
“Not so fast, Your Majesty,” one of them sneered. “Governor Redlamin is on his way to pay his respects to the new Emperor. You wouldn’t be so rude as to leave the capital before he arrives, would you?” The other guard snickered loudly.
Preclonus dropped to his knees in horror as the door slid shut. It was already too late. His reign, and soon his life, were at an end.
To be continued…