Operation White Fire refers to a series of short conflicts initiated by the Imperium of Rael’nos against the Andromedan Galactic Coalition on behalf of the Civilisation during the Great Xonexi Schism. The Imperium of Rael’nos, hoping to upset the AGC’s dominance of the galaxy, which stifled their militaristic foreign policy, sided with the Civilisation and invaded various AGC members.
Zanut sat in his office mulling through information from the head of his Imperium’s military. The last of the Valued Subordinates from his conquest of the fuzzy tribals last month had left market. Good. Very good. Zanut hated those markets. A home was a more proper place for a Valued Subordinate. Zanut put his feet up on his desk as he held the document in one hand and sipped his tea with the other.
Suddenly, a sound blared in his office, faintly familiar. He hadn’t heard it in years, so it took him a second to remember what it meant. An alien race was initiating First Contact. Recalling that made him tense, but also somewhat excited. Zanut sat back up in his chair. He put the paper down.
Suddenly, there was a whirl of glowing voxels, and from it, formed a bipedal entity. There were no holo-emitters in his office.
Zanut's eyes widened. He lost his composure for a moment. He stood up from his desk chair and looked at the hologram. He didn't recognize the species it depicted.
"Ah, I assume you go by the name of Zanut? I was told to contact this address." the alien said.
"I..." Zanut nodded. "Yes, I am Zanut, Beloved Leader of the Imperium of Rael'nos. What... what can I do for you, ma'am? Why have you contacted me?"
"You may call me Cremmelei; I hail from the Cooperative, which has come to this galaxy in search of new species." The entity was not unfriendly, and whatever species she came from, they had done some research. "The Cooperative is titled after its namesake; we work by various species cooperating towards common goals for the betterment of all, especially seeking knowledge. We are interested in your culture and whether it would like to join."
Zanut nodded. "I see. I see. Well, my Imperium welcomes your call, Cremmelei. I am, indeed, a member of a species, and as I have not seen your kind before, I do imagine I am new to you. I hope I am to your satisfaction. I believe you are the first... well, technically second extragalactic entity I've spoken to. As for joining you, what would that entail? I assume the cooperative in question is the Milky Way Cooperative? I must confess I know little of you. Perhaps you have a pamphlet for prospective members?"
"You are correct, we are the Milky Way Cooperative. Basically, how involved you want to be with the Civilisation is up to you. Whatever contribution you share grants an equal and opposite contribution, thanks to post-sparsity resources, within the scope of the project in question. You can be sure to receive benefits from such projects. Do not worry about the distance, we plan on beginning some activities in Andromeda (what we call your galaxy) soon."
"I see. Well, our Imperium's chief strengths are religious and martial in nature. I am sure a group of our philosophers will be happy to enter your space. As for martial, I am aware that your organization is currently on poor terms with the Andromeda Galactic Commonwealth?"
"Ah yes, philosophers are very welcome. In the Cooperative we seek to find knowledge both convergent and divergent. And as for the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth, we were in warm relations once. But unlike them, we are not based on colonialism or territory, something they have yet to understand, stuck in the past". Cremmeli looked almost wistful, if not idealistic.
"I see. Well, you might be aware that there are numerous small civilizations in this area affiliated with the AGC. Along with a population of volunteer philosophers, we would be happy to use our might to weaken the Commonwealth." This was perfect. Zanut had always looked at the small Commonwealth allies around him with lustful eyes, resenting that he could not make them and their territories his own. For the Commonwealth to weaken, or even fall, would be a great boon to him, and perhaps, if the Milky Way’s powers won this war…
The happy look on Cremmelei's face suddenly paused with a tinge of confusion, and then... "Ah yes well. Should they show resistance to the Civilisa-... I mean, Cooperative's endeavours; they will pay the price."
"They are allies of the Draconis. I think it's fair to say they already have. With the Cooperative's blessing and the promise of assist upon retaliation, my Imperium would be happy to neutralize these threats and incorporate their populations into the Imperium as Valued Subordinates."
"Then that is how our agreement shall be. Welcome to the Cooperative, a pamphlet is ready for download."
Zanut nodded. "The pleasure is all mine. I shall enjoy our alliance immensely." Zanut downloaded the pamphlet.
Fixalas sat in his ornate command chair, waiting for his ship to reach the Shiyozai Republic. He sipped wine from the cup holder next to him as a slave massaged his shoulders. Conquest of the Republic had been on the Imperium’s mind for a long time, but its AGC membership meant that such a thing could not be attempted safely. With protection from the Civilisation, however, such a thing was not only safe to attempt, but within their grasp.
The Shiyozai had a special ability. While their military, spaceflight and terraforming technology were as one might expect from an empire of their age and size, their skill with genetic engineering was, so far as Fixalas knew, unrivaled. Even those empires that presumably could match or surpass the artificial organisms they created had not done so.
Thus, to conquer them meant not only to gain their territories and integrate their population as Valued Subordinates, but to gain their technology as well. The Republic’s slaves were already the highest quality in the galaxy, so far as Fixalas knew, and that was with the restraints brought on by their scruples. Without their arbitrary code of behavior, the Imperium could create servants who would be desired throughout the galaxy. With the Republic’s technology, they would no doubt come to dominate the intergalactic slave trade, and, because the slaves would be engineered not to mind being sold, few would complain about it. They might even be able to sell to empires who were otherwise unwilling to buy slaves.
Fixalas folded his hands. If the Republic wasn’t going to sell their greatest product for fear of it being mistreated, that was for the best. It meant more for the Imperium.
Fixalas looked behind his chair at the Valued Subordinate who was still massaging his shoulders. “That’s enough,” Fixalas said. “You’ve done very well. You may return to our quarters.” The Subordinate nodded and walked that way.
“Wait, stop,” Fixalas said after a moment. The Subordinate turned around. “There’s a replicator in the hallway outside.” Fixalas tossed him a coin. “You may get yourself something if you want. Do as well next time, and I’ll probably give you the same reward.”
The slave nodded, catching the coin. He walked away. I was amazing what the Rael’nos Imperium’s training could do. A mere week ago, that scaly lad had been rummaging through the dirt on some flightless backwater, dead in the middle of a ring of weak AGC planets. Now, he was an obedient, and even passably competent, servant.
Fixalas put his feet up. He reached for his drink and brought it to his mouth, only to discover that it was empty. He sighed and pushed his buzzer. Perhaps he’d been hasty to dismiss the Subordinate to their quarters so early, though the boy had still earned his snack.
Ulem sat at his work desk, reading through a computer file. Each time one of the masters created a new gene, it was his job to read its description and place it in one or more of over a hundred categories which genetic engineers might later use to find genes they needed. Khozai who had done his job has said the work was dull, but Ulem was on cloud nine.
To him, each new gene was like a puzzle. What struck most as long, boring reading about the intricate details of a gene’s properties and functions was, to him, fascinating, and working out which of those categories the gene belonged to was a test of his reasoning and understanding of the genetics, the same genetics which would eventually be used in the creation of new Shiyoni like himself. Granted, the test wasn’t too challenging, but it was more fun than anything else Ulem ever did.
As Ulem sat, typing, he heard an alarm. His eyes shot open. Uuuweeeeeeeeooooooooo, the alarm sounded. Ulem thought. What did that alarm mean? He didn’t recognize it. It wasn’t the fire alarm, and it wasn’t a tornado siren. They both sounded different. Had he ever heard this alarm before? Surely, he would have in a drill, if nothing else. Uuuweeeeeeeeooooooooo, the alarm screamed again. “Attention, attention,” Ulem heard as he stood up from his desk. “Hostile extraterrestrial ships have been spotted whose courses indicating this planet to be their destination. All persons should proceed to their designated extraterrestrial warfare bunkers. Repeat. Hostile extraterrestrial ships have been spotted with courses indicating this planet to be their destination. All persons should proceed to their designated extraterrestrial warfare bunkers.”
Ulem gulped. He thought. This building’s disaster bunker was on its lowest floor. Ulem dashed out of his cubicle and into the hallway and ran to the elevator. There was a large crowd outside it. At least thirty of Ulem’s co-workers were pressed against the door in a screaming scrambling pile. It would be pointless to try to enter, so Ulem ran to the stairs. There was a similar crowd outside of the stairwell, but it was flowing into the stairwell. Ulem slipped in. He rode the flow of the terrified people and scrambled down the stairs, hoping to reach the lowest floor.
Uuuweeeeeeeeooooooooo. Ulem’s speed was dictated by the pace of the other Shiyoni, and the occasional Khozai, running down the stairs. Ulem followed the flow, trying to run fast enough not to be crashed into or shoved aside by the person behind him, but slow enough not to do the same to the one in front of him.
Several people had dropped items in their panic as they rushed downstairs. There were smashed and stepped on cell phones scattered about on the path below Ulem.
As Ulem neared the bottom of the stairs and the fortunately spacious bunker, he stepped over the apparently trampled body of a Shiyoni. Perhaps the poor woman had tripped. Ulem ran into the bunker and entered it, a stream of people following in behind him.
Uuuweeeeeeeeooooooooo, the siren sounded as they packed themselves like sardines into the bunker. It was a long time before the inflow of persons stopped and the door closed, leaving them under subtly but oppressively blue lighting. The conversations around Ulem made him cover his ears. Everyone was shouting to try to ensure that the persons next to them could hear whatever they were trying to say.
Ulem closed his eyes and thought. Who was attacking? Who would attack them? Ulem did not know much about politics, but the Republic was supposed to have powerful allies. Were these mere pirates, who might not know of their affiliations? Was this someone even more powerful than their allies? Ulem’s thoughts and heart raced under the harsh light of the bunker.
Fixalas gazed through his view screen at the blue marble in front of him. He smiled. There it was; a major colony of the Shiyozai Republic, ripe for conquest. He looked down at his sensors. His ship was detecting a radio signal. The Republic was gathering its citizens in bunkers for them. That made Fixalas laugh.
The Admiral pressed a button, causing him to appear before every captain of every ship in his fleet. “Attention all Rael’nos forces, fire on the orbital defenses near you and deploy drones to the surface to target their equatorial anti-air array.”
Fixalas turned on a large holographic display in front of him, which depicted the area around his fleet in vivid detail. He’d kept his fleet’s ships close together. The satellites around him were spread thin, thin enough that, densely packed, his fleet of thousands was in range of only a few. It would not take long to destroy those few, so as to create a hole through which his landing craft could enter the planet’s atmosphere, which would allow him to take them.
In the meantime, Fixalas opened a channel to communicate with the world below. After a moment, he was able to get a hold of a Khozai. The figure, dressed in ugly-looking regalia, was the planet’s governor. Fixalas looked into the hologram with one eye, keeping the other pointed at the display in front of him.
“Hello, governor,” Fixalas said.
“Hello, Admiral,” the governor said. The Khozai was young, according to the files Fixalas had read, though he wouldn’t have been able to tell by looking.
“I imagine you can guess why I’m contacting you?” Fixalas asked.
“You want to negotiate my surrender?”
“Yes. Here are my terms: You will agree not to resist our annexation of this world. You will by no means attempt to prevent us from seizing it, its resources, and its population. In exchange, none of our soldiers will harm any of this planet’s inhabitants except in self-defense. You, your immediate family, their immediate families, and up to one-hundred-forty-four additional persons of your choosing will receive full citizenship in the Imperium of Rael’nos. In addition, you will be permitted to serve as this world’s governor under us just as you did under the Republic, so long as your dictates are compatible with Imperial legislation. Your planet will also be allowed to access our interplanetary communications network. Your planet’s technological level will be made to match ours, to the benefit of every resident of your world. You and your chosen beneficiaries will be generously gifted by the Imperium in congratulations for your uniting with us.”
The governor sat for a few seconds before responding. “Even if I wanted to take your deal, I do not have the authority to surrender this planet, or any other territory of the Shiyozai Republic, to you.”
“Who cares? You will not be under their authority anymore. You’ll be under ours.”
“The answer is no, admiral.”
Fixalas hung his head. “That’s too bad.” He turned back to his tactical display. The hole was made. He’d lost just over a dozen ships to the equatorial anti-air array, and hundreds more drones had been destroyed on the surface. Still, his captains and their firepower had done their work for him. Fixalas laughed. This was just too easy.
With the push of a button, he once again appeared before his captains. “Attention, a hole has successfully been made in the planet’s defenses. Enter through it and spread out over the ground. Infantry shall commandeer their remaining anti-air defenses and use them to shoot down their remaining satellites. Squadron 2 shall deploy its bombing craft to take care of any ground resistance.”
Fixalas had been unsure if his enemies would surrender, but he knew it would make no difference. Their meager technology ensured that they stood no change against him. He smiled. He’d be on to the next planet by tomorrow.
Jaws of LifeEdit
Ulem lay in the corner of the bunker, fighting off sleep. It’d been twelve hours since he’d been called down there. He prayed. He didn’t believe in anything supernatural, but he couldn’t think of anything else to try. The loudspeaker in the bunker had been shouting announcements all day, none of which comforted him.
“Attention! Attention! Hostile Aliens have entered orbit around the planet!” the first message had warned. “Hostile aliens have landed,” the second one had blared. “Hostile aliens have been spotted in your area,” another had said, just now.
Ulem wept. It looked like he really was going to be taken.
And then he heard a knock on the door. Apparently, extraterrestrial slavers knocked. Ulem hadn’t known that before. “Civilians, open your bunker door immediately,” a scratchy alien voice said. Ulem closed his eyes and covered his face with his hands. He folded his wings tightly behind his back.
After no one responded to the alien’s request, the same voice spoke again. “Very well. We are going to use explosives to open this door. For your own safety, we suggest that you clear away from it. Any persons within two meters of the door risk injury or death. You’ll also want to cover your ears.”
The crowd backed away from the door. Ulem felt someone step on him as they backed up. His eyes flashed open. He closed them again before he saw anything more than the room’s harsh, dreary blueish lights. Ulem held the palms of his hands to his ears and pressed.
Ulem heard the crowd around him scramble and scream. Laying down had been a mistake, he soon realized. As his fellow Shiyoni and Khozai scrambled backward from what Ulem presumed to be the entering slavers, he felt several of them step on him. Their feet pressed down on him, digging in. With one step, he felt one of his ribs crunch. He let out a cry, but the person didn’t move. He clenched his teeth, trying to bear the pain. Through his hands, he could hear panic all around him, and then he smelled something strange. He sniffed. He’d never smelled it before. It was… it was like lylax, mixed with bleach. It made him… it made him feel…
Fixalas beamed when he got the news. The planet had been conquered. Many of the captured persons were being transported onto cargo craft at that moment, as were large amounts of Shiyozai technology. They’d also managed to avoid damaging several of the Republic’s large artificial organism manufacturing facilities. The buildings were still up and running, and their operators and staffs had been incapacitated, but left alive. As plans now stood, their lives would be the same as they had been before, barring the 100% pay-cut they would receive working under the Imperium. With their expertise, new Shiyoni, redesigned to be ideal for the intergalactic slave trade, could be produced in as little as a few days.
Fixalas looked over at his own personal servant. He smiled. “Today is a day for celebration, Subordinate,” he said to the lad. “This conquest shall benefit us more profoundly than any other in our entire history.” Fixalas turned to another admiral. “Can you handle things for the next few hours? I want to take some time off to celebrate my victory.”
The Rael’nosian nodded. Fixalas smiled and turned back to his Subordinate. He stood up. “Come back to our quarters with me,” he ordered the Subordinate. “It’s time for you to learn just why I let you sleep in my bed.” Fixalas walked toward his quarters, ordering his slave to follow. “There will be a feast on the ship tonight to celebrate this victory. If you do well, you’ll be allowed to attend, and eat the same food as the free citizens.”
The Subordinate nodded and followed his owner to their room.
Call to the Fire DepartmentEdit
Admiral Alaros Vontarion was sitting in his office aboard a worldravager-class vessel. He was preoccupied looking over various documents - crew manifests, supply shipments and troop movements.
His office, due to his position,was heavily decorated; several paintings were hung on the walls and several artisan-crafted ornaments sat on his desk and in nearby cabinets.
As he shuffled through his papers, the draconis heard a beep, which he knew indicated an incoming distress call.
Sorting out the documents on his desk he grunted and straightened himself out before pressing panels on his desk, acknowledging the call. “Admiral Alaros Vonatarion reporting,” he said.
A small hologram appeared on his desk, depicting an avian figure with bright orange feathers. He was plump, but dignified. "Hello? Hello? I'm trying..." the hologram blurred and buzzed for a moment, "looking for any AGC all..." more interference. "Is this Admiral Alaro..." yet another buzz, "rion?"
“This is Admiral Alaros Vontarion. Your signal is weak,” he replied.
"I..." buzz. "We have been attacked..." The signal buzzed again, but then snapped into clarity. "...of Rael'nos. They have invaded all but a few of our colonies, enslaving their inhabitants, and our few remaining planets seem to be next. They claim alliance with the Milky Way Cooperative."
"Understood" Alaros replied "The Commonwealth shall dispatch retaliatory forces as soon as we can. We can send rapid-dispatch forces to draw fire with bulk forces following shortly." he said, in a confident and commanding tone. “They will regret aligning themselves with the Cooperative.”
"Thank y..." the signal buzzed out again.
Alaros nodded as the communication buzzed out into nonexistence. He stood up from his chair, stretched his wings and took a few steps to invigorate his lungs.
After a moment of stretching he walked over to a wall communicator and activated it.
"210th battlefleet this is Admiral Vontarion: We are to set a new course for the Shiozai republic. All hands to battle stations and prepare for an aggressive response up on arrival."
Gexust, a Rael'nosian admiral, sat in his command chair, his ship lying in the center of a large Rael’nosian fleet. He was playing an old board game with another admiral. One of their Valued Subordinates was spectating. Perhaps he could be an opponent one day.
Shunting out of hyperspace as he played were the utilitarian, iron-grey heralds of the Draconid Imperium. The ships Talon Aetheral Corps sailed silently towards the Rael'nosian cluster of ships. As Gexust was in the middle of a late-game move, a signal came up indicating that his ship was being hailed. Gexust looked over at the signal. He let out a noise which was a mix between a sigh and a scoff. He pressed a button on his armrest to see who was hailing him.
He was greeted onscreen by a well-dressed Draconis sitting in an elegant padded chair. Behind him were crews working control panels set into gilded walls.
Gexust's eyes widened. "Oh," he said aloud. He thought he would be gone before this could happen. Fixalas was supposed to have jammed any distress signals. He immediately gestured for his Subordinate to put away the game board, and pressed a button on his chair to alert the Civilisation to come at once.
"This is Admiral Alaros Vonatarion of the 210th battlefleet of the Talon Aetrheral Corps" the Draconis barked "you have been identified as aggressors against a member of the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth, and for that you will receive appropriate consequences unless you surrender and hand over all prisoners of war."
"Oh... I." Gexust cleared his throat. "We have been? Oh, I am terribly sorry sir, but there must be some mistake. We had no information suggesting any of our recent conquests were AGC members. If they were, I could direct you to Grand Admiral Fixalas. He's the one who'd have the authority to surrender."
Alaros furrowed his brow and lifted one corner of his lip in a kind of a sneer. "I highly doubt that admiral, unless your superior intended to frame you for a war crime."
"War crime? What war crime? There is no law against conquest, Admiral, nor slavery, as I imagine you yourself have explained to many a crying civilian. However, as I said, your noble draconic words are wasted on me. I could not simply forfeit tens of billions of slaves to you even if I wanted to." Gexust presses two buttons on his chair. "Here are the coordinates to the Grand Admiral's ship. Speak to him."
Alaros appeared to chuckle "Oh I will admiral, while I have scouts confirm his location I would gladly wish to see about your own prize." His tone suddenly shifted to something more serious. "While there is no law against conquest, you still acted violently against a member of the Andromedan Commonwealth. I suggest you stand down because I am in little mood to demonstrate the Corps' capabilities on someone such as yourself"
"I will stand down if and when Fixalas orders me to do so. I take no orders from foreign admirals. If you intend to shoot my ships, please be aware that your precious AGC civilians are on board. Blasting those you intend to save to smithereens would be terribly self-defeating, would it not?"
Alaros huffed with irritation. “If you believed I would be that crude than you are already underestimating me."
"Well, I doubt you would board all of our ships one by one, so what alternative do you have? Let me answer that for you. Speak to Fixalas."
Alaros leaned forward with a scowl "If it turns out that you are wasting my time, I advise you to not be surprised should a tungsten slug "accidentally" find its way aboard your bridge. Alaros out."
Gexust seethed as he turned to his slave. He smiled. "Did you hear that? Your rescuers just threatened to blow up this ship and kill you. What righteous saviors they are." He stood up and made his view screen display the DI fleet, so he could wait for it to depart.
Only a portion of the DI fleet departed, presumably the scouts that Alaros mentioned. The rest however, remained in orbit within sensor range.
Only a few minutes had passed before the scouts returned to the armada.
Alaros appeared on the screen once more, with a devious smile on his face.
Gexust tilted his head. "Oh, you again? What do you want?"
"Your information was accurate, and I shall speak with Fixalas. However I am not letting you go free and, for now, I shall be leaving you in the capable hands of Lesser-Admiral Tanadia. Farewell"
Gexust shut off the screen, growling. "Just great."
Alaros and his worldravager-class flagship had arrived in orbit over the Shiyozai capital, followed shortly by the majority of the 210th battlefleet.
Fixalas sat in his ship, on the ground. He looked at his display screen. All of his anti-air guns, the intact ones anyway, were aimed upward. A distress call to the Civilisation was being sent over and over again. None of his ships remained in orbit. They were all on the ground, arranged like nodes on a grid.
Alaros engaged in a wide-band hailing transmission, repeating the declaration he had made to Gexus, but this time aimed at Fixalas
Fixalas opened up the hail, and pressed a button, intent on appearing on Alaros' viewscreen.
"I happened to run into one of your admirals, Fixalas. The fool tried to bluff that he was unaware they you had sent him against a member of the Andromedan Commonwealth, and your presence on this planet only confirms my suspicions that he knew more than what he tried so desperately to tell me."
Fixalas sighed. "He might not have known. I apologize for what has happened. We didn't know that this civilization was an AGC member until we had already conquered it. We apologize for the misunderstanding and hope it will not happen again." Fixalas mashed the button to call reinforcements from the Civilisation.
Alaros snarled. "I have heard more convincing lies from chocolate-stealing hatchlings." Alaros sat back, when his fleet arrived they had established a communications blackout, knowing that the Rael'nosians would attempt to call for reinforcements the moment they realized who had turned up to interfere.
"I give you an offer of surrender. If you refuse, then I shall have to use more severe methods in order to make you more agreeable"
Fixalas shook his head. "I think you will want to re-think that, Admiral. At this moment, I happen to be in a city filled with millions of the persons you insist on saving, as are most of my ships, a different city for each one. All I have to do is activate my ship's self-destruct, or order any of them to activate theirs, and a huge chunk of the slaves you’re here to save die." Fixalas smirked. "So here's my offer: fuck off, and this will be the last of your Empires we take."
"So you are after martyrdom. So be it, admiral." Alaros shut the screen off and ordered for cloaked operatives and cloaked hunter-killer probes to descend to the surface. The Rael’nosian ships would not be able to detect them.
Fixalas sat back and thought. He activated his radar. The ships were not gone. He thought. They were planning something. Perhaps he could still intimidate them. He activated his communicator, and ordered the ship farthest from him to self-destruct. He heard a slave scream over the communicator as he hung up, but Fixalas’ captain knew better than to fear death. The explosion occurred. Fixalas hailed Alaros' ship.
Alaros turned on his viewscreen and kept a neutral expression.
"Approximately 1.7 Million civilians just died, Admiral. Do you want that number to increase, or do you want to leave? You have one minute, or one false move, before the next one blows."
Alaros sighed wearily. "And how many must die before your operation becomes worthless?
"We took hundreds of planets, Admiral. Quite a few must."
"Every push of a button, you are the one who is becoming a monster for his actions. I am merely standing my ground against a madman"
As the admiral spoke, hunter-killer probes had begun making their way aboard the ships that were scattered about the planet, positioning themselves quietly and waiting for the right move.
"Madman?" Fixalas' voice was cold and collected. "I am more enlightened than anyone in your Empire, than anyone in your commonwealth. Now, leave, or mark my words not only will another of my ships explode, but, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a year, perhaps in five, it will not only be Shiyozai civilians dying for your stubbornness."
Fixalas ordered another captain to make his ship self-destruct.
As the captain was about to press the button, his chest was ruptured as a gauss-propelled round passed through the back of his seat, into his back and out of the front. This was immediately followed by a second salvo.
The other persons on the ship's bridge gasped and stepped back. Fixalas' eyes widened. He turned to the view-screen. "What did you do?" he shouted, his eyebrow curled.
Alaros chuckled as he watched Fixalas' reaction. "That would spoil things wouldn't it? Just know that the next ship you order, the same will happen."
Fixalas seethed. He took a deep breath and looked up at the view-screen. "You were talking about surrender earlier. What would that entail?"
"Your empire, as promising as it is, will submit itself as a province of the Draconid Imperium. You will release all captured Shyazoi and your military officers and political officials will be required to take the Imperial oath of allegiance. Unless they'd prefer to be second class citizens. Now, I am a generous man, so I would be open to negotiation."
Fixalas smiled. "Negotiation? Alright. How about this: We leave the Shiyozai Republic and all of the other ACG citizens in peace, or return them to where they came from if they have been moved. In exchange, you let us leave in peace with the promise to never again assault you. It will be as though none of this ever happened."
Alaros tapped his thigh for a moment, looking at Fixalas with piercing eyes. He took an inhalation and shifted himself "Counter-proposal. We agree to this deal so long as you and your conspirators in this campaign submit yourselves to have your transactions judged by a body consisting of the Talon Aetheral corps and a tribunal containing officials from the societies you waged a campaign against."
"Who exactly does that entail? This campaign was a direct order from our Beloved Ruler, Zanut. I could argue that it was no more my brainchild than that of any of my captains."
"In which case I would be satisfied with him being submitted to this tribunal," Alaros replied.
Fixalas sighed. "As far as I am concerned, you have a deal. However, if you go to seize the president, he may well order his forces to resist you, and I will not be capable of stopping them, no matter how much I may want to."
"Also... there is one thing I'd like to inform you of before you kill him. Something that might make you not want to."
"What?" Alaros said as he leaned forward
"His son... I don't know that you'd want to see the Imperium of Rael'nos under the command of his son. He's... how do I put this... sadistic perhaps? He's rash, aggressive and thoughtless. If he came into power, he'd not have half the prudence not to strike back at you. I've never seen something more ghastly than what he did when a slave ate the last piece of his birthday cake. That's the worst thing one of his has dared to do."
Alaros grunted "A successor is not my concern, if this brat threatens the Commonwealth again I will not be so tactful in dealing with him."
"I see. Very well, then. We shall leave with no fruits of our conquest but the replication plans we have made. You will have to cease the president yourself, I fear. I have no power to give him to you. He is in the White Palace on Rael'nos' capital. Here are the coordinates. Don't tell him I sent you."
Fixalas sent the coordinates to the Imperium's capital.
Alaros nodded solemnly. "Should your president act irrationally, I will refer your name to the Lord-Admiral if things turn sour for your imperium."
Fixalas nodded. "I thank you."
Zanut took a sip of his coffee as he looked at his monitor. Where the hell was the Civilisation? Gexust had signaled him as soon as he detected the DI ships. Zanut slammed his coffee on the table, making a chunk of it spill. He'd made a deal! Did that mean nothing to them?
The 210th battlefleet arrived in orbit over the Rael'nosian capital in full force. Alaros walked along the aisle as communication crews attempted to establish a connection to the televised networks across the planet.
Zanut's eyes widened as he heard an alert. Aliens were attacking. He ran outside to his balcony, and could see the fleet in the night sky above him. He went back inside. He pressed a button to order civilians into bombing shelters, before running toward one himself, taking with him a mobile communicator with which he hailed the fleet above him.
As people ran to bunkers, televisions, video billboards and radios across the planet were hijacked and began playing a message from the admiral.
"Citizens of the Imperium of Rael'Nos, for the transgressions your government has committed against the Andromedan Galactic Commonwealth, the Sublime Draconid Imperium demands for the surrender of your president. As an admiral of his esteemed majesty Uriel the Sixteenth's navy, you have my word that any citizen who cooperates with Draconid soldiers will be treated respectfully. Those who do not will be treated as accomplices to your president's resistance and will be subdued for judgement. I ask for your upmost cooperation in surrendering your president who shall be held accountable for this unprovoked aggression against the Commonwealth."
Zanut's eyes widened as he heard this. He stopped running. One of his security agents urged him forward. He thought. Did they really just want him? Was this a trick? Zanut urged his security officers out of view and tried again with the communicator, attempting to appear before the admiral.
Zanut's attempts paid dividends as after a moment of static, the graveling, baritone voice of the admiral hit his ears. "I expected you would see sense, President Zanut"
"You only want me?"
"I have a simple request: Your empire returns all captured citizens and leaves the Imperium and the commonwealth alone. In exchange you are to be presented before a tribunal populated by officials of the imperium and empires you have scorned."
"And I imagine such a tribunal will be certain to result in my execution?"
Zanut looked down. He thought. Suddenly, a burst of static hit their communication. The Admiral couldn't see the Leader for about twenty seconds.
Alarus lowered an eyebrow as he looked at the static screen, patiently waiting.
When it came back on, the Leader's expression was different, and the power in the area where he was had gone out. "Sorry about that," he said. "I will agree, but I have two conditions. First, before you take me away, you will allow me to draft a bill splitting the Imperium between my son and daughter rather than giving it all to my eldest. It would take all of five minutes." "Agreed."
"Second... I have seen today that the Civilisation is faithless. I chose the wrong side. Despite your efforts, we sent many signals which should have, and I suspect did, reach them. Hence, I request that the Northern Imperium, which I will grant to my daughter, be allowed to begin induction into the commonwealth, and be guaranteed an exception to the AGC's normal rules prohibiting chattel slavery."
"I will put the request forward. However the woman will have to present her case on her imperium's slavery to the Andromedan Light. I have no guarantee the Light will grant her what she wishes."
"Very well then. I suppose I will have to accept that. I will now return to my office to draft the bill, as I requested. When I am done, and after I have said farewell to my children, I will walk up to the palace's roof and board whatever ship you have waiting. Please tell the light to go easy on my daughter. She is merely a child."
"An AO-8 dropship will be waiting on the rooftop. Your cooperation is appreciated."
Zanut went back to his office, shooing away the security trying to stop him. He sat on his chair for the last time. He pulled up a word processor and wrote the decree, defining the boundaries between the two new kingdoms he created. When he was done, he called his children into his office.
It was a few minutes before they came in. His son, Trodye, arrived first. He ran up to his father. “Dad…” he said, tears welling from his eyes. “I heard… you’re not going to…”
“No. Dad, don’t.” Trodye walked up to his father and hugged him. “Please… kill them. You don’t surrender to them! You’re the Leader! You don’t just let them kill you!”
“Son, it’s not a matter of whether I let them. If I don’t do this, the Imperium of Rael’nos will be no more.”
“I wish it were otherwise, more than you do. I’d hoped I could live to see you rule after me, that I could spend my elder years watching you with pride, but it seems no such thing will occur.” Zanut put a hand on Trodye’s shoulder. “Please, son, I am giving you most of the Imperium. I want you to run it in a way I would be proud to see you do.”
Trodye shed a tear. He nodded. “Okay.”
“Listen, son, I know you. I know you’ll want to take revenge for what’s going to happen--”
Trodye shed a tear. “And you don’t want me to? You want me to let them get away with it?”
“No. I want you to be intelligent. I will not tell you not to take revenge. What I ask of you is that you be patient. Take your vengeance the first moment such a thing would be wise, but no sooner. Understood?”
Trodye looked down. “Yes.”
While the two were talking, Zanut’s daughter, Kiy ran in. Her eyes widened when she saw her father and brother hugging and crying. “No…”
Zanut turned to face her. “Kiy, my princess, my sweet baby girl…”
“Please,” Kiy’s eyes welled with tears, “please… say it isn’t…”
Zanut leaned kneeled down and looked his daughter in the eye. “I want you to listen to me, Kiy. I just gave a decree, my final decree, leaving a Northern sliver of the Imperium to you. I’ve arranged so that you’ll be able to join the AGC.”
“But they killed you! I mean… they’re going to! You want me to join the people that--”
“Listen, Kiy, there are forces above us. Regardless of where I go, he will be here to guide you. Listen to what he says.”
“But…” Kiy glomped her father, wailing. “I… daddy I… I can’t--”
“Don’t think that. You can do anything, with his help.” He patted her head. “You are my baby girl.” Zanut pressed his hand to Trodye’s arm, “and you, my boy. I raised you two to be the finest persons I know. I couldn’t be more proud. No matter what happens to me, I want you two to be strong.”
“Daddy,” Kiy said. Trodye stared.
Zanut smiled. “It’s okay, my little princess. Besides, it might not be wise to count me out just yet. I am clever, after all. Perhaps I shall live.” Zanut sat back, and looked both of his children in the eye. “And if not, it will have been his plan. Now, I love you both more than anything in the world. That is what I want both of you to know before I leave. If I don’t come back, I want you two to get along, and to be the best rulers you can be.”
Trodye clinched his fist. “I will, dad.”
“You will,” Zanut said. “I’ll see you both again someday.”
Zanut stood up. He turned around and waved both of his children a final goodbye. His daughter was a sobbing wreck on the floor. He turned back around and left to go to the rooftop.
Zanut stood up and left his office, crying. He took an elevator to the roof and stepped out onto it, unarmed.
The dropship waited on the roof with a side door open for him. Flanking the opening were soldiers of the Draconid Imperium's military, who stared at him through their blank faceplates as he approached.
Zanut walked to the ramp. He looked to either side, at the guards, before stepping onto the ramp and up the stairs. He then stopped for a second and turned around. He spoke into his communicator. "What would happen if I simply hurled myself off of this rooftop right now?"
"Aside from my soldiers moving to stop you jumping? Nothing."
"Our deal would otherwise stand?"
Zanut jumped from the ramp to the roof beside it and made a beeline for the edge.
The soldiers momentarily panicked and ran after him, one of them leaping forward to tackle Zanut before he was able to jump off the edge
Zanut struggled as he was pinned down, but gave up after a few seconds.
The soldier that tackled him moved up and was given handcuffs to bind his hands and feet, hoisting Zanut onto his shoulder as he took the Beloved Ruler to the dropship.
Zanut shed a tear as he was taken on board.