In the darkened room of the tyrant’s chambers, a solitary figure sat on his throne. His head was hanging low; he had known this day would arrive eventually. He had just thought that it would be later, much later. The man was of smallish frame for his people, although next to the average human he would have appeared large. Broad muscular shoulders hung low, burdened by the weight of his father’s cloak. His head hung even lower with the weight of his father’s crown.
The crown’s luster had dimmed in the time after the late tyrant’s death; jewels were missing; sold to keep the empire afloat over the course of the last three years. The man had known that the empire was crumbling and that revolution would soon be knocking at the palace doors, but it had come so soon.
The new tyrant had done his best to keep things in order, but he was unable to put the fear of death into his subjects such as his father had been able to. Maybe it was because he was seen as a runt, small and insignificant, but maybe it was because he had been excessively cruel. Trying to make up for his lack of physical stature the new tyrant had beheaded half the political prisoners his first day on the throne in an attempt to keep the peace, but that had only caused revolutions on the outer limits of the empire.
Gharphie had been the first to claim independence. The tyrant had thought nothing of it at first; they were a small planet and held very little threat to his rule since they were peace-loving people of learning. Unbeknownst to the tyrant buried deep in the Gharphie’s past, a past he had not cared enough to learn about, was a history of violence and hatred that spanned centuries. It was this past that the Gharphie tapped into to forcibly remove the occupying forces from their planet and drive them back to their home world with their tail in between their legs.
“If only the genetic disease planted over two centuries earlier had taken effect and killed of the damn blood drinkers” the man thought to himself. It had not; they had grown stronger through the disease. The virus caused them to unite with the other race on their planet and their combined strength and knowledge was too great a force to fight. The tyrant was forced to pull off the planet and display even more violent force towards the other planets to try to keep them in line.
The light in the room dimmed as the sun set, leaving only the bleak flicker of light provided by the low wattage bulbs in their fixtures. Gazing at the monitors that displayed the protesters outside the palace, the tyrant ordered his son to the throne room.
A couple of minutes later a young man in his late teens walked into the room. His shoulders were pulled back; his posture was perfect. A sharp jaw-line and deep-set eyes gazed at his father with pity. “You called for me father,” inquired the young man.
Staring up at his off spring the tyrant was reminded of the boy’s mother. He looked very much the same. Tall, lean and well poised, the tyrant’s son was the picture of dignity and royal nobility. It was clear that he had inherited nothing from his father but for the name, everything else was of his mother’s making. “Leave the palace son, take the cruiser and try to save the empire,” begged the boy’s father. “Save yourself” was the trailing thought that echoed through the tyrant’s head. The old man wished his son could not hear the nagging voice of doom, but the tyrant knew that his son was not deaf to the thunderous roar of the crowed gathered outside the palace.
“Father we will prevail; there is no need for me to flee,” replied the young man. His optimism was strong; his will defiant; the boy was everything his father was not. Many had thought the boy a much preferable heir to the throne when the old tyrant Praxis the fourth gave up his life, but it could not be done for Praxis weak son survived. The proper sequence of lineage had to be observed; the Empires only prayer was that the boy’s father die quickly leaving only a warm throne for the boy to sit upon when his reign began. Alas, this had not happened and now the Empire was fighting for its very existence, and it was losing more ground everyday to the barbarians now at the palace gate.
The tyrant looked up at his son for the first time in many weeks. This was the first time the old man had looked up at all. Deep dark bags hung under his eyes, they told the tale of many sleepless nights, dreading the inevitable. The father spoke with clarity and decisiveness “We will lose this battle Philip, you must leave or the horde will kill us both.”
Without any further hesitation, the young man approached his father and bowed deeply before his lord, before his father. “In your honor I go forth” spoke the young man. With this, he stood and embraced his father, thanking him for being with him throughout his life. The boy turned and made his way to the royal cruiser.
Running down the hallway the young, man saw that the horde outside was turning increasingly violent. The people were now attempting to break through the large steel doors of the palace with a beheaded statue of his father, its feet slamming up against the steel doors to the palace. The boy knew that there was nothing that his father could do about the outcome of the battle, many of his troops lay dead in the courtyard, and those that had survived huddled in small groups surrounded by the angry mob.
In the throne room the old man sat, he figured if he gave himself freely to the mob, their thirst for royal blood may be quenched and his dear Philip could escape destiny. He sat in his throne all alone; he had ordered all that could leave to evacuate the palace immediately. Only a small garrison of his guards refused to leave the tyrant’s side, they had been well trained and even better paid then the average soldier. Their loyalty had been bought with the sweat and blood of others, and it was because of this that they sided with the tyrant for the angry mob would not take them.
The odds that those twenty men and women faced were too great though, the tyrant knew this as fact. The horde numbered in the tens of thousands and there was little hope for his troops to defend the palace. When the doors finally broke down the tyrant gave his last order to his guards to lay down their weapons or join the horde to save themselves.
None of the twenty followed the man’s orders; they would not or could not let their sovereign fall without at least a token of resistance. It was over swiftly for those soldiers, the plasma flew from throwers on both sides and filled the air with blue electricity. Then it was quiet. The horde, having removed the last obstacle to the throne room, was marching towards the main doors. The tyrant did not have a clue what to expect, but he knew that he would not have long to wait for it to happen.
The main doors to the room swung open and a tall Gharphie male strode through them. He wore the uniform of a general, yet he had been fighting at the forefront of the battle “how strange” thought the old man. The general was young looking, maybe in his late twenties, but the tyrant knew that this meant the Gharphie was in his late third century. “Those damn long lived vamps” thought the tyrant; “this boy was probably alive when we conquered his backward little planet.”
The general approached the tyrant without the slightest bit of fear; he understood the old man was giving up, surrendering as it were. “You know why we have come, do you not?” inquired the general. He was standing tall and proud and despite the blood of his friends spattered across his uniform he carried himself with an air of dignity that the tyrant respected.
The old man nodded his head in agreement, words were not needed at this time, and he would have his chance to speak one last time to his subjects. His head bowed low in submission to the horde’s leader. The whole time the old man tried to conceal thoughts of his son fleeing in the royal cruiser, he knew that there was bound to be a telepathic in the room somewhere and he feared retribution being placed on the boy. He could not bear to think of his only son being hunted throughout the galaxy like a rabid dog.
The old tyrant stood from the throne and moved slowly towards the general, despite only being in his late forties the tyrant was sickly and not at his best. The long harsh winters of the capitol and the lack of proper heating in the building had all taken their toll on him.
The general would have normally taken pity on such a man, but this was not a time for pity and this man was deserving of none. Anyway, the horde outside would not accept pity for the man responsible for the murder of an entire generation. Pity was not to be found for the man that had slain thousands of political prisoners, the horde’s heroes, their sons and daughters. All of this had been done in the name of maintaining a cruel and unjust government that had long outlived its usefulness.
The general led the disposed tyrant from the chambers and ordered his guards to search the rest of the building for any other members of the royal family. Guards armed with plasma riffles scattered down the hallways, knocking on long deserted rooms. The staff and family members had all left in secrecy under the cover of night, sure, some might be found, but the majority would escape. The remaining citizens of the fallen galactic superpower ran away to hide, left to rot in hiding for the rest of their lives, ever fearing the knock on the door that would end their pitiful existence.
Walking out onto the balcony that the Tyrant had delivered many a speech from the last bit of hope dwindled from the man’s eyes. For as far as the eyes could see there was a mass of bodies churned bellow the balcony of the palace. The horde of people carried whatever crude weapons they could find, most of them had projectile weapons that used gunpowder, but there were some form the outer edges of the empire that carried bows and arrows. Some of the people had fought with only their bare hands and claws as their weapons.
The beleaguered man took one last gaze up at the stars over his home and saw what he hoped to see. There, buried in the stars was a single moving light, streaking upwards into the safety of space. It was the royal cruiser; at least that is what he told himself.
The Gharphie general was speaking to his people, the people of many planets, united as one against the empire. The tyrant heard reference to a great day, as well as a fair and just trial and retribution. He laughed internally, there would be no fair and just trial; the conclusion was already known. Even the Gharphie general knew this as fact and he hated the mob for it; for they would act just as the tyrant had in dealing with prisoners. He would be sentenced to public execution even if it were proven that he had done nothing wrong.
Three days later a court convened and pronounced its verdict the next day. After two more days, rotting in jail the tyrant was dragged out into the plaza in front of the masses. Television crews captured the images for the people who could not attend the “celebration.” Over three hundred million people of all races gathered to see the man die uncounted billions watched the spectacle on vid screens around the empire.
The guards thrust the former tyrant into the de-mat chamber and shut the door. “At least they are making it as painless as possible” thought the man to himself. Once again, the Gharphie general approached the prisoner; this time there were signs of fatigue and remorse in his eyes. The years of rebellion had taken their toll on him as well, but it would soon be over.
“It gives me no pleasure to do this” was all the general said to the tyrant. “In accordance” spoke the general, this time to the crowd “with the ruling of the court, and with the power invested in me by the tribunal, I carry out this sentence of death. I, General Vladimir Van Plurgh witness the termination of the life of Joseph Admire Tailbane, former dictator of the Desquar empire, by means of de-mat.”
The general turned to the condemned man and spoke “Do you have any last requests?” Bowing his head down Joseph indicated that there was nothing left for him on this plane of existence and he was prepared for the next life. The general walked over to a small control panel on the side of the de-mat chamber and pressed the small red button.
A veil of blue light covered the condemned man inside the chamber. Then, with little more ceremony than micro waving a burrito at the convenience store, the man’s atoms were separated and vented out the top of the device. When the light dimmed inside the chamber there was nothing left of the former leader, not even so much as a DNA trace that could be used to clone the man.
Halfway across the galaxy a solitary craft glided silently through the darkness of space, the distant glow of the star Sol its only companion. Entering the sector of space, which contained Sol’s planetary clusters, the royal cruiser maneuvered itself in between two of the outer moons of Saturn. The craft skipped lightly over that planet’s rings, kicking up only a little dust trail in its wake. The vessel was sleek, it moved with great grace and elegance, much like that of a dolphin through the ocean, but this craft also showed the scars of battle. Along its sleek silver hull burn, marks from plasma guns could be seen, and although she sported four powerful, engines only two of them were functional. It was these two engines, positioned on opposite wings that hurtled the vessel through the void of space.
Along the main hull, viewing stations came to life as small dark shadows drifted by them on their daily routines. The crew was tired and the ships captain new it. They had been fleeing their Gharphie pursuers for over three months now, narrowly escaping death on several occasions. “Maybe, just maybe they have finally given up,” thought the captain to herself. The captain stood about six foot tall and wore a skintight uniform; she had inherited command when the crafts first captain died while they fled the falling capital planet of Desquar. The uniform showed signs of having been through battle after battle, after battle; it’s cuffs where frayed and the royal insignia faded beyond recognition.
The ship performed a maneuver to try to increase its overall speed and fuel efficiency, dipping deep into the gravity well of the smaller moon the vessel used the pull of the moon to increase its speed and save on the precious fuel now dwindling in the store rooms deep in the ships structure. The captain knew that she could not keep the vessel afloat for much longer on the limited fuel supply, she needed to find a way to replenish it.
Ordering a scan of the neighboring systems for a planet they could land the crippled vessel on they stumbled upon an insignificant little blue green planet. It showed signs of a low-level technological society that could prove useful in replenishing the ships free labor resources. The planet’s scanner readout also reveled an atmosphere rich in nitrogen, the main fuel source for her craft. Lady luck had smiled on the captain today. She was just about ready to order the craft towards the planet when from behind Titan a group of smaller crafts came screaming towards the vessel from their hiding spot.
Plasma throwers ignited at the tips of the small attack crafts and pelted the side of the larger cruiser. Explosions rocked the royal cruiser, but the blasts appeared to do little damage to the giant ship. Responding quickly the captain ordered her troops to their crafts and soon the space around the vessel was filled with the small silver defender fighters of the Desquardian cruiser. The Desquar fighters were greatly outmatched though as the Gharphie ships were better maintained, better equipped and their pilots better rested. Shortly after the small spherical vessels had gone on the defensive they were blasted into stellar dust, their pilots left drifting in space for an eternity.
Turning their attention away from the small fighters the Gharphie attack craft continued to blast the flagship of the Desquardian Empire. It would have seemed that all was lost until along both sides of the hull great cannons emerged. The captain, risking her limited power supplies on the big guns of war, ordered her crew to action. Meant to target and down other vessels of equal or greater size the cannons had a hard time locking onto the small blurs that where the Gharphie attackers. When the great throwers where able to lock onto the attack craft the results were stunning, there would be an explosion and then nothing.
Engulfed completely in raw liquid energy the small fighters quite literally broke down into their elemental components, drifting towards the nearest celestial body. First one, then a second until all the attackers where gone, the captain allowed her crew a moment to rejoice. Battles were frequent, victories were not; the captain knew that this was enough of a moral boost to keep her team working for a few more weeks. She also knew that although it was a victory for her crew, they would be lucky to reach the blue green planet now. She had been forced to expend too much energy with the cannons and now they may not have enough power left to reach their new destination. The ship had also lost another engine in the battle, and although they could still pilot the craft they would need to get a second up on-line before they could dare an atmospheric landing.
Barking orders to the crew she set into motion the activities for the next three days. This was the projected time it would take to reach the planet. This was the time she needed to reach the planet in; otherwise her crew would face drifting endlessly in space until hunger would drive them to madness and madness would drive them to the unspeakable.
The crew set forth on fixing one of the less damaged engines in the craft, borrowing parts from the thoroughly defective engines in an attempt to repair the one. Communications team members began to listen to the broadcasts of the target planet, and relay vital information to the captain concerning its political and geological make up. The military crew drilled and prepared for armed combat, just in case the natives proved hostile, they had learned long ago that even old friends would stab you in the back, not to say the least about a complete stranger.
It was decided, after a long review of geo political information, that a place called Washington, DC was the best place to land the wounded vessel. Here sat the “Leader of the Free World” and his underlings that governed the lands of a United States of America. Additional political groups existed, but all seemed somehow to report to this singular entity in one form or another, and none of them seemed to rule over this one. The captain thought to herself that if this leader was so powerful he could make a powerful ally, if he refused he would make an influential sacrifice.
The ship glided through space, past the third planet’s moon and into the sensor range of the earth’s super powers. Once inside the perimeter of the moon’s orbit the ship was aware that their presence had not gone unknown to the people of this planet called Earth. If she had even a tenth of her energy reserves she could have cloaked the vessel behind a field of energy. Instead of hiding her presence and surprising the primitive she would have to hope they were not hostile. Showing no sign of hesitation the captain ordered her vessel to make a planet fall at the predetermined site on the surface of this planet known as Earth. All on the planet gathered in awe as the news they were not alone in the universe spread rapidly across the various political boundaries of the planet.
Along the mall of the Washington monument a crowd had gathered as a sleek silver spacecraft poked through the heavy white clouds in the upper atmosphere. It moved with grace, allowing what sunlight was present to shine off its hull. The captain had ordered a through cleaning and painting of the exterior of the vessel. She thought that appearing as regal as possible was preferable to appearing like refuges. Gliding directly over the mall the ships massive wings folded upward to allow the ship to fit into the tight quarters of the grassy area. The crowd that had gathered in the mall spread to the outskirts of the grassy area to allow the craft room to land. With a heavy clank the vessel came to a rest in the center of the reflecting pool. The crafts landing struts straddled the edge of the pool perfectly; with less then a yard either side before the water. Millions of humans watched on their televisions as the huge craft landed gracefully in the capital of the United States.
Once the craft was landed the crew went to work, setting up equipment to gather the necessary nitrogen to refuel their ship. The captain prepared herself for making first contact with the Leader who was also known as President. She did not understand his rank, nor what military position he held, but when the fleet of heavy armored vehicles took the place of the awestruck natives she assumed that he was a cautious man with much power. She had anticipated such a show of force and was prepared to answer the call if necessary, but she opted for a more passive stance.
Her researchers had indicated that a white flag was a sign of peaceful intent on this planet. Although she had to give up her best formal uniform to do this she ordered the flag risen outside. The rouse seemed to work, as the armored vehicles seemed to stop their advance, merely standing guard in nervous anticipation. She was not worried about the weaponry, but the more time she could spend on the ground as her crew made repairs, the better they would fair in any military skirmish. She also knew that her time was limited on this small planet, the Gharphie fighters were only a scouting mission, she was sure that the rest of the fleet had been notified and would be on their way soon. She needed her ship to be at its peak performance level if they were to survive another assault by the enemy.
Making contact with the evolved ape like creatures on the planet was more difficult then what she had first thought. The people of the planet were deceptive at best. Two factions seemed to control the ruling body of the United States of America, and they couldn’t agree on any single point, even those that would help the masses of underling citizens. The captain, after much pomp and circumstance managed to secure her first meeting with the President.
The first meeting came and went; she found the entire ordeal unsettling. This President was a beastly man; he seemed more interested in her outward appearance than what she had to say. He was a striking individual with graying hair and steel blue eyes, but she felt like his compassion was a bit insincere and his mannerisms just a little too sleazy. She found that by flaunting her more feminine attributes she was able to secure meetings more easily with this man, but her expectations of the meetings were never fulfilled and she finally had to terminate negotiations with this President. She was even more appalled when her observers monitored a broadcast by the President claiming that the talks were a success and a peace had been found between the two races.
Deciding that the only way to deal with this louse was through violent action, and she did not wish to confront the military force of this planet. So instead she opted for plan “B.” Checking on the status of her fuel supply and repairs to her vessel she was pleased to find that her crew had made spectacular progress in a week. The vessel and its fuel supply were at ninety-seven percent. Satisfied with her vessel status she ordered the alternate plan into motion.
Her crew rejoiced at this proclamation, they had grown tired of this little rock with its President and its television. The crew withdrew the captain’s white flag and prepared for takeoff. Lifting into the air with the ease of a falcon taking flight the great vessel soared high into the sky. The heavy armored vehicles took aim and fired upon the vessel for no better reason than the president was upset at the captain for not entertaining his proposals of sexual activity.
Heavy masses of metal hurtled through the air at the vessel, tinkling off the ship like so many bee-bee pellets. The shells had absolutely no effect on the integrity of the hull what so ever. What the projectiles did manage to do was piss off the captain by leaving a resounding ringing in her ears and a throbbing pain between her temples. “This is supposed to be a simple plan to leave this planet behind, never to be spoken of again,” screamed the captain, although she knew that jokes of the president would surely linger for years, “but no they had to be difficult!”
The captain, her rage at a full, ordered the great gun doors opened and the city bellow leveled like an ant hill at a picnic. It was over in seconds; the great guns lit up the early evening sky with the bright blue of liquid plasma. Buildings crumbled to the ground, the ground shook and shattered leaving only a pile of rubble a mile deep and twenty miles wide. She ordered the craft to land in the center of the great crater and prepare to conquer the planet. She would establish a new planetary galaxy in honor of the young Prince who had fallen before his time.
With all the leaders and lawmakers dead, the captain figured she would have easy pickings of the planet and its people now. She was already making mental plans of what to do with all the extra “crew” members that would be joining her shortly when the attack came.
Apparently when she removed the bickering, ineffective leaders the people were able to act with decisive ease and effectiveness. The onslaught was swift and total; the once great cruiser was caught off guard as wave after wave of soldiers rushed the craft, which had perched itself inside the crater that was once Washington, DC. Overhead sortie after sortie of fighter crafts flew, their explosive payloads rocking the craft with every strike. Eventually the ship succumbed to the attacks; unable to lift off the captain ordered a last stand.
Even this battle was swift; the crew ran out the doors and down the ramps of the ship. A handful managed to make it to the end of the ramp alive as their bullet-ridden bodies dropped to the ground. Those that did manage to make the end of the ramp found themselves torn to shreds by the people waiting for them. When the battle was over the army found the captain’s body in her quarters, dead of an apparent self inflicted wound.
When the Gharphie fleet approached the Earth they found themselves warned off by a blast across their bow. All signs of the Desquar cruiser were gone; all that remained was a wiser and better-armed populace. Through months of negotiations with the new ruling body the Gharphie fleet came to an understanding with the people of Earth.
The image on view screen flickered off and with a rasping command from the elder the lights came on in the great hall. The hall was once the center for an empire, but the empire had fallen, as had much of the roof of the building. Sitting at the end of a table meant to seat a hundred commanders, five warriors gathered. Their uniforms were tattered remnants of cloth; insignia of the different military divisions were faded beyond recognition. A cool breeze blew through the broken windows of the hall; those in attendance of the meeting gathered heavy cloaks around their shoulders. The elder warbled a little on his feet and decided it was time to sit before his strength gave out and took his dignity with it.
After a long pause to gather what strength remained in his body the elder addressed his minions. “We all know the history that we have just seen, but I thought it helpful to remind you all of it” croaked the elder. “We have it in our ability to fix what is wrong with this Empire, to change all that we have seen on the viewer” stated the man, his voice scratchy with years of life that has left him barely more than a shell of his former self. “With the unanimous agreement of this council,” the old man continued “we can establish ourselves as the predominate force in the universe.”
The delegates looked shocked, the Empire was dying! They had all known this for the past decade, but they had been afraid to talk about it aloud for fear of creating a panic. The elder sensed the confusion of his minions he felt that it was necessary to explain the plan. After a half-hour the elder knew he had swayed the conference into expending the precious resources for the mission. In a show of tradition the vase was passed from delegate to delegate, each placed their voting marble into the vase. The red marble indicated a no vote, the green a yes. After each delegate placed his or her vote the vase was returned to the elder. Tipping the vase into a recess in the table the marbles rolled out. Six green marbles rolled onto the table like dice at a crap table, setting into motion the great plan to save the Empire.
The delegates filed out of the great hall knowing that they may have just cost millions of people their lives by wasting resources, but if the plan succeeded they would go down in history as being brave and courageous. On the other hand, in reality no one would ever know of their decision or even existence since they were looking at creating a temporal paradox. Through their actions they wished to change history in such a way that they would never exist as a group, but if they did that they could not change history in the first place. The last delegate to leave looked back at the elder; he was slumped down in his high-backed chair. Either the strain of the meeting or the weight of the decision were taking its toll on the leader; the delegate did not care he knew that this was the last wish of his dying commander.