Emperor Khonsu is dead. Long live the new Emperor!
Dharl Degalu: Snapping ShacklesEmperor’s Council ChamberOasis IV, AldebaranHalf to Nightfall, Imperial Standard Time, 47th day of Rising, 2375
“But, noble Emperor, please, Khonsu had agreed to-“
“Unlike Khonsu, I will not waste our people’s resources to keep your failed state afloat. Tell the Security Council that I am cutting off all aid for your Gate project, effective in six months. You have no place in these halls any more.” dHArL teS urOS DegALU, 78th Emperor of the Unification Dynasty, motioned the Terran emissary to the door. The woman quickly made the gesture of Imperial supplication and vanished.
The Emperor, on his ornamented throne, beheld the cavernous council room. His fourteen councilors, mostly holdovers from Khonsu’s reign, had to crane their necks just to see their new Emperor. It was not a sensation they were used to.
Foreign Councilor Iunmin gestured for the right to speak. Upon Dharl’s curt acceptance, the robed elder pushed himself to his feet. “Beneficent Emperor-“
“You were beneficent only to Khonsu, but continue.”
Iunmin hesitated. “What Egyptian name will you take?”
Khonsu’s old guard glanced at each other, but most kept their tongues. The Terran ambassador, and now this?
Iunmin sighed. “I shall be plain. Your current agenda is disastrous. You would strain the alliance which Khonsu built?”
“The Terrans cannot pull their own weight, but we drag them fumbling through the desert. There can be no ties of friendship with them, Iunmin. Only shackles which drag Vasuda down.”
At Dharl’s gesture, the chamber came alive with projections. Screens and charts lit up and shifted through the air. Bright orange and gray lines snaked horizontally across the councilors’ vision.
“Look at the flow of our respective GDPs. Ever since Reconstruction, we have prospered under the monarchy’s guidance…” The orange line hovered high, with a trough over the last decade; Khonsu had arranged to pay half the cost of the Sol Gate.
“…And the Terrans have spared no expense in driving themselves into the ground!” The grey line lagged below the orange one, with sharp troughs around the NTF Rebellion and Capella, and only a recent gradual recovery.
“This despite Khonsu’s unparalleled generosity.” Dharl waved up another graph, showing Vasudan lending and economic aid over the years. The Terran debt to Vasudan banks stood at 19.7 trillion GC, 89% of the Terran GDP.
“And the Terrans repay us with this?” The facts and figures vanished, replaced with a diorama of the GTA Hades
smashing a Vasudan node blockade. The Hades’
s orange flux lances gutted a fleeing Aten
, and Loki
s shot down fleeing escape pods.
“The work of a few bitter rebels, they pleaded. That our alliance would last, they assured us. Then, just when we had forgiven them their indiscretions…”
“Die, Zod scum! Neo-Terra Victorious!” A simulated blast rocked the council chamber. The display now showed a Terran freighter crashing into the former Vasudan capital of Oasis III, taking much of the landscape with it in a roaring antimatter eruption. “Eleven million dead, in just one of the NTF’s attacks. 24 million dead in the entire NTF war.”
“But Aken Bosch was hardly content with ripping apart his species and ours. He then called down the Destroyers upon us.” This time, a Sathanas
juggernaut’s red lances tore through the GVD Psamtik
. Another flicker of screens; Serapis
fighters, protecting fleeing Terran transports at Capella, were snuffed out in a storm of Shivan missile fire. “78,000 more Vasudan crew dead. All to protect the very species which huts both us and itself at every opportunity.”
“No, Iunmin. No, Khonsu. The Terran is no ally, fit to walk side-by-side with us. He is a shambling corpse, stabbing himself and stabbing us as we try to drag him through the predator-filled desert.”
Dharl dismissed Khonsu's Gate funding from the budget with a gesture. The projected Vasudan GDP evened out, as the Terran financial recovery slackened.
“No, we will not be shackled to a corpse. Trade with the Terrans? Yes, though not at cost to our economy. But will we save them from their own rebellions, their own economic suicide, their own suicidal provocation of the Shivans? No more. We snap our self-made shackles! Let the Terran wither, parched and alone. We will only fight for this Vasuda we have forged among the stars, our Vasuda everlasting!”
“Iunmin, your loyalty to Khonsu will only bring further strife to my government. I understand you will tender your resignation?”
The beige elder fixed Dharl with a stare, pondering a rebuttal, but he slowly signaled his assent. “Yet as I am no longer an officer of the government, I am free to leave you with one last proverb. ‘Let your brother stumble, and he will not lift you up when you stumble.’ Our people are not sinless. Recall the Galatea
, and recall the Hammer of Light.” With a last sigh, the elder stood up and made for the door.
“If any others here cling so tightly to Khonsu and the Terrans that they cannot serve our new government, you may wish to retire with dignity for your loyal service.”
The councilors glanced around uneasily. Four left their seats with stiff gestures of supplication. The Emperor’s loyalists ushered them out in silence.
As Dharl began laying down the policies of his new regime, Iunmin and his colleagues strode out of the chamber.
“Dharl’s regime is already six councilors short,” the ex-Finance Councilor muttered.
The ex-Foreign Councilor looked back at the empty seats, then nodded. “When we lack an Emperor, what need have we for councilors?”