Reply To: Twilight Imperium

Jarle Haktorson

The young Atturian prince skimmed the planetary rings in his shiny star yacht. Loud Neglathian punk music filled the cabin as the Xluchain barmaid he had just picked up on the nearest moon wrapped her 6 arms around him. He looked up and and stared in to her vivid green eyes. His attention was away from the monitors, and he failed to see the stray rock ricochet out of the glittering ring.

It struck a glancing blow to the ship, tearing a huge gash down the starboard side. In a fraction of a second, the barmaid, un-tethered, was sucked into the inky blackness. The prince pitched forward against his harness, his head slamming into the control console, opening a large cut across his forehead. As he struggled for breath and the blood poured through his vision, the life support system initiated a force-field atmosphere around him. The lights dimmed.

The prince drifted for days and then weeks. The ship was dead. He was dead too, he knew it. No comms, no power, just the auxiliary systems running his minimal life support. It was cold, and silent. His species could survive for some time without food or drink. But not forever, and his injuries were making him weak. He began to black out, sometimes for days at a time. He woke once more, and he could feel it was for the final time. He looked out into the nothingness, and saw nothing. And then something, a light? But no, nothingness again. He gave in, resigned, and drifted again into his own internal blackness.

The prince awoke staring into the bright lights of a surgery table. Doctors bustled around him. One patched his gaping head wound, others tended to his many other injuries. The doctors were Corrathians. Strange, their race had been at war with his for centuries, why would they help him now? Then, a young, tall Corrathian in military uniform floated into view.

“Welcome aboard,” he said “I am Captain Zabari. I hope our medical staff have been treating you well”

Zabari? thought the prince. The son of the Corranthian Chancellor!

“Yes…yes thank you” said the Prince “but… but why?”

“Because it was the right thing to do.” said Zabari, “Our fathers and grandfathers war does not need to be our war. Perhaps you will remember that some day. I have arranged to have you transported to a merchant ship, which will return you safely to your home-world. Now I’m afraid I have matters to attend to. Goodbye.” and with that he was gone.

78 galactic standard years later…

Zabari slumped in his seat in the galactic senate chamber. The war had raged for decades. Battles upon battles. Diplomatic overtures. Deep webs of spies and intrigue. But now that was all over. Until recently Zabari had thought he had a strong chance to be the next Galactic Emperor, but now that chance was gone. His forces were strong, his union wide, but not quiet enough to overpower 2 stronger competitors that had risen above him. The Fluuvian Conglomorate and the Enid Collective. He simply did not have the resources left to defeat either of them, and every ally he had was exhausted. If he only had a few more ships, a little more support, he could have won. But there was no-one left to ask. Now he listened as the enemy leaders debated final terms across the senate floor. Whatever happened, his systems would be lost. Any minute now he would be dragged away to the cells, a political prisoner for the rest of his life, if he was lucky, the airlock if not.

Then, on the far side of the senate, a cloaked and hooded figure rose, his face in darkness. The Atturian leader. The Atturians had never been contenders to be final victors in this great war, but had remained largely neutral. Most assumed they would wait to see the victors and would then make an alliance to save their hides. They had a substantial force – not enough to win the war from themselves, but plenty to tip it towards one of the stronger contenders if they had the will to do so. Whatever they had to say, it was no good to Zabari. Their peoples had been at war for centuries. He had no friends there.

The senate speaker called for silence. The chamber vid-feeds focused on the hooded Atturian.

“Zabari!” his voice boomed accross the chamber “I wish to address Chancellor Zabari!”

Zabari startled. He rose. What now? Some final humiliation? A demand that the Atturians could take his homeworld in exchange for supporting the Fluuvian or Enid. Yes, that would be it, he was sure.

Whispers & mutters echoed around the chamber as the two leaders faced each other. Zabari waited.

“Sir,” spoke the Atturain, “it is good to see you again.”

Zabari stood in complete confusion as the whispers and mutters of the other delegates intensified.

The Atturian raised his arms and slowly drew back his hood. A large, old, ugly scar wound like a canyon across his forehead. The chamber was suddenly as silent as a tomb.

“Chancellor Zabari,” he spoke again “I hereby pledge the full military alliance and political support of the Atturian Empire and its people to the Coranthian Union. May our victory be glorious!”

The chamber erupted. Atturian Imperial Guard troops appeared suddenly in the the Fluuvian and Enid delegations. Their leaders were dragged from the chamber to roars of support from the non-aligned nations and the chants began “Zabari. Zabari. Zabari!”

Later, as the Fluuvian and Enid leaders were shoved into the airlock, their cries of dismay could still be heard – “Kingmaker! Kinnggggmaaakkkkerrrrr!”. And then they were lost to the silence beyond.