Rough Draft: “God-Emperor of Lilies”

God-Emperor of the Lilies: An Precursor Universe Novel

The suns are brilliant today…” This was a saying on Lilliana V, one of the most premier planets in the intergalactic Empire of the Egoist Crown; one that was used to signify good luck, for the residents of Lilliana V were, indeed, very lucky. The planet was unique in the fact that its core and mantle were a gigantic ocean of liquid water, kept liquid, oxygenated and mixed by the gravitational stresses caused by the planet’s 7 multicolored suns, each burning at a different temperature and intensity. Time seemed to stand still on Lilliana V, the ultra-rich inhabitants of the planet; representatives from all 135 Imperial races lived on huge, 1,000-foot yachts, cruising endlessly around the planet’s global lake, never more than 100 feet deep except at the poles, where water from the core bubbled up in massive, breathtaking springs to cover the entire planet in cool, crystal-clear water, with a sandy bottom and choked with water lilies, beautiful foliage and teeming with aquatic life, there was no greater biodiversity in the entire Empire, which covered a third of the known universe, the planet’s year-round temperature was a balmy 83 degrees Fahrenheit, low humidity, minimal natural disasters except for hurricanes and waterspouts, and all-around gorgeous weather made this planet the place to live in the Empire, either in the Core Cluster of galaxies or any of the colonies…it was an endless summer of pure romantic embrace, at least to those who were not familiar with the way of things here. The drama here was in the rarefied baron families that called the planet home and ruled it by the order of the Emperor, with their massive floating mansions. Life on this planet was one of the most cutthroat, exclusive experiences in the universe… “the suns are brilliant indeed.

You are the Angel and Devil on my shoulders, my ambrosia and arsenic, my left and right hands…I cannot exist without you, and you cannot achieve your ends without me. We are all a piece of a whole person…Arditi may be the Emperor, but I am the Judge that shall condemn him for his sins. I am a God -Emperor, and this will soon by my Empire, and you will be at my side. In this universe, everyone’s guilty of something… Duchess Veronica, let me turn your tears to lilies…” “Sola Amoratis, Et Lilium Aeternum.”

Ferdinand Eisenheim and Duchess Veronica Vercetti, on that fateful Sunday

                    1. Oh, So Much as Love

Oh, so much as love, a day in Paradise, across glided lake of lilies, our love began with a kiss. She looked just like I wanted her to; at first we had our differences, but now I can’t remember one. We laughed, loved, and did things we shouldn’t have done, but it was all in good fun. I looked into the crimson twilight, the sweet summer sky, and thought

Angels fly, in the air tonight, and wasn’t it just like a midnight swim in the lake? Stars collide, in the air tonight, tearing apart like the promises that we made on our final night in Paradise.”

As our love grew stronger, as did me, her kisses became truer to thee. We planned a marriage, we would become like immortal stars in the sky. However, his dreams were bigger than hers. The glory of the Empire called his name, and he took it in stride. He told her, with a month to their wedding, “Sweetie, our time is at an end…but does it truly matter what we think of ourselves? What we tell others? Words are just that…words, they have no meaning unless they are supported by actions that make them true. In our passing, our words will not matter. But the actions and words of the people we leave behind will. Tears shed for those tragic heroes, those fallen in battle or in the line of what they believed in are not shameful, they are not to be feared. No, they are the highest form of praise for a person, because you believe that they are WORTHY of every single tear, and that you care not for those who judge you for it. Each tear is a peace of a lost one’s soul, falling to the ground like rain to return to the sweet bosom of Nature.” She stood there in her burgundy dress, her long, silky brown hair let down to her waist, her blue eyes filling with tears, she rested her head on his shoulder and cried her eyes out. He left, in his Jungsturm officer’s uniform, as she stood in solemn vigil.

Angels fly, in the air tonight, and wasn’t it just like a midnight swim in the lake? Stars collide, in the air tonight, tearing apart like the promises that we made, on our final night in Paradise.”

Ferdinand Eisenheim, sitting in his master bedroom aboard his family’s massive yacht, wrote on his computer data tablet, as the sky turned a stunning navy blue and purple as the blue and red suns, Malthus and Jecolyte, two of the largest of Lilliana V’s seven stars, cast an eerie twilight over the endless lake of shimmering lilies and water plants. His handsome burgundy uniform, black cape and rapier sword gave him a very distinctive appearance, like a noble cavalier; he was an expert fencer and a writer as well; a member of the Eisenheim Illusions Corporation family, he was next in line to take over his father’s company, and one of the largest companies in existence. As Ferdinand put the finishing touches on his novel’s prologue, “Sunset on the Eaves of Time,” he looked out over the endless sea of water lilies, passing under his family’s 1,200-foot yacht-mansion hybrid. The planet was sparsely populated on the Open Lake areas of the Global Lake, but the huge floating cities were hotbeds of art, culture and splendor. Eisenheim’s yacht, the Lordly Iron Hand, was headed for the floating city of Delta Dromius, one of the largest cities on Lilliana V, and the site of the EIC corporate headquarters, and he was getting impatient; someone was supposed to be meeting him via amphibicopter on the deck of the Hand, and she was late. Ferdinand could not tolerate tardiness. However, the girl he waited for was worth it. She was very intelligent, well-spoken, and fluent in all 135 Imperial languages, one of every single race that comprised Imperial citizenship, including 15 human languages, was a very shrewd businesswoman, a brilliant chess player and tactician and also well-versed in almost every subject, she was a veritable walking encyclopedia. She was also stunningly gorgeous, as 6’1” tall, 135 lbs with long, wavy, silky brown hair, blue eyes and a burgundy dress. She was not without flaws, but Ferdinand had been in love with her since he was 14…and she was supposed to have landed on the helipad deck about 5 minutes ago…Eisenheim stood up and paced nervously, wondering if she was going to show up at all…but his worries were quickly assuaged with the drone of an engine coming from underwater, over the rhythmic hum of the Hand’s nuclear reactors. Eisenheim took the time to grab his black Fedora hat and put it on to go meet his guest atop the deck, nearly tripping over his own two feet getting up from his chair. He stepped into the elevator that took him up to the landing deck, nervous, as always. Samantha St. John, heiress to the St. John’s Resort Hotel fortune, was landing on the top deck. As the elevator rose to the top of the yacht, Eisenheim stepped out onto the deck, just in time to see a black torpedo shape rocket out of the water near the yacht, hover in the air, and land neatly and precisely on the top deck, all in a matter of about 5 seconds. The amphibicopter pilots that Sam hired were some of the best in the business. As the engines on the chopper droned down, the passenger doors opened, and Ferdinand saw two black high-heeled shoes step onto the tarmac, causing him to get a nervous lump in his throat. “Hello Samantha. You’re a bit late…” Eisenheim said, adjusting his hat. “Aren’t I worth the wait, sweetie?” Samantha cooed, softly, walking over to him with her long, black and white ornamental fur coat over her usual burgundy dress. She kissed him sweetly. Eisenheim fell into a bit of a daze for a few seconds, but then humorously attempted to sound serious. “Come inside, I have made dinner for the two of us.” Sam saw through the facade immediately and giggled, combing her hands through her long, brown hair. “Must you insist on dressing like one of the Three Musketeers every time I come over for dinner?” “Hey, it’s my formal outfit, I don’t ask why you wear the fur of a dead Zebra Tiger as a coat in 85-degree weather. “I have genetic modifications in my cells from Solation Pharmaceuticals that prevent me from feeling overheated or smelling sweaty. I still like perfumes, though.” “What is that, melon-cabbage scent?” Ferdinand asked, stepping back into the elevator “Yes, it is, with natural aloe extract. It smells nice, doesn’t it? By the way, you’ve got to love Sei Ikkiku’s Solation Pharmaceuticals…the Empire sure makes some wonder drugs these days. I’ve always wondered what was in that Regenera Strain, the injection that keeps you eternally young and beautiful?” “Human blood extract spliced with a benign T-cell virus that brings dead cells back to life. Just one injection can revive a corpse from the dead, if administered shortly after death, and reverse the aging process if the person has died of old age. They will wake up after a few hours, and after a year, look 21 again. Regenera, using small computers known as “God Machines,” can create, clone and revive any organism anywhere in the universe, however the owner wants. “I know, I have a God Machine computer in my house-yacht, I actually created a new pet for myself using the first and second laws of thermodynamics applied to Boltzmann’s Constant and guided by keeping the organic chemicals in a superfluous state via Schrodinger’s Paradox. It’s a simple computation that results in a man-made embryo. Regenera is the organic key that starts the machine. It’s extremely difficult to obtain, however, thanks to Imperial laws after the Vampire Uprising on Samhain Night on the planet Krakow II a few years ago, where the Empire sent in an entire Creche to destroy it.” “Unfortunately yes, thanks to some vain women disobeying the warning labels on the drug and using it more than once during the year, and therefore triggering the horrid side effects of such irresponsible usage. That’s why I stay away from that shit. I want to die normally just like anyone else, I personally don’t think it’s wise or right to tamper with nature like that, and the Vampire Uprising proves that to me.” “Perhaps Lucian Moonraiser would know better, he did just graduate the Ansaati Officer’s Academy as valedictorian.” “You may be right, even though he never came across as the particularly intellectual type, but he has been on Imperial news channels for a while, he just got assigned to the 181st Legion.” “Well, there is something to be said for his knowledge of philosophy and his creativity. He visited the Bird Galaxy Colony when he was 13, that galactic colony is 650 million light years from the Core Cluster, under Viceroy Maxemilian Griff. The galaxy is actually a formation from three galaxies colliding, the shock from the collision released a tremendous amount of energy, forming more than 200 stars per standard year…like he said, that’s more than 200 new systems for the Empire to dominate. Call it hopeless romanticism, but he had a point.” “Yes, but quite often, he was a dope who loved pointless, unsophisticated, low-brow humor, invented pointless, goofy robots and machines that no one had any use for and ran a sophomoric, exclusive comedy club called “The Billionaire Boys’ Club,” where they did nothing except try to pick up girls and make jokes about poor people. He’s in the Army now, maybe now he’ll learn something about life, something that I learned a long time ago.” “What would that be?” “It’s not who you are that matters…it’s what you do with your life, and who you surround yourself with.” Ferdinand kissed Sam sweetly on her lips, she was a bit surprised, but smiled and kept walking out of the elevator back onto E-deck, where the main dining saloon was. “Sir, the chefs have prepared the meal for you and Miss St. John.” a few of the butlers said, opening the door for them. The two of them walked into the dining hall, with groups of crew and corporate attendants already eating, sitting at the beautiful tables, made of authentic Sequoya Imperia wood. There were stunning paintings on the walls, depicting famous battles from the Imperial Legions, marching soldiers, stepping to the tune of the Legionarii Magnus, the Jungsturm-war uniformed stormtrooper march, statues of the Pleiadean Ordo Sororitas Praetorium in battle poses, with their gravity shields, Hallucination Nano-Swords and Energy Javelins, clad in their magnificent Elegant Ethereal Aristocracy dresses and hairstyles, and a painting of the 82 members of the Indiction Guard, surrounding Supreme Pontifex Alexander Arditi, the God-Emperor of the Egoist Crown and Ruler of Pantheon Doctrine. “This dining room, it’s beautiful. I love the statues, so patriotic, your family is.” “The Emperor demands loyalty, we are only citizens in his great Pantheon vision. The Serpent Paradox of Self-Sufficiency, The Ignorance Complex, the Seven Doctrines of Absurdity, and the Ideology Fields explain everything…that is the our vision, peace, justice and unity between the Imperial citizens, to resist the ones, and we all know which ones, attempt to divide and bring our society to degeneration. There is no war in our society as long as everyone knows their place and is happy about it. For example, if you were born into the lower classes, just stay there and be happy, don’t make a fuss and attempt to drive a wedge between your natural superiors out of envy. The most dangerous thing to our way of life is an educated person who forgets his place in society. That’s why the Imperial government has Patriot Tests, any student applying to an Imperial-accredited university or college must take a 3-day exam administered directly by an Imperial commissar, the questions do nothing except test the prospective student’s loyalty to the Empire on every level, physical, psychological and emotional loyalty to the State are all checked, with the Pleiadean Archive of Knowledge on Alcyone, and the Eta Carinae High Council reading the minds of every candidate as they take the test from their home bases in the Milky Way Galaxy, so that any disloyal sentiment is promptly found and weeded out. Anyone who might be disloyal is forbidden to ever enter University. Even poor people are effectively barred from ever graduating University, by the University Debt Collection Act, a student must pay off his or her debt in full before being granted a diploma to avoid burdening the government with a government-issue student loan debt bubble. Given that the interest rates are at 10% a year, and the average debt is 300,000 Imperial Dactyls for 4 years of college, only the rich, loyal Imperial patriots can get into University and graduate. Everyone else can join the Legions and be taken care of for life, living off the Imperial government.” “It figures a member of the Lilliana V aristocratic intelligentsia would think like that…” “And you don’t?” Eisenheim asked Samantha. “I do think that every person has his or her place in society, but I believe more in the accepting nature of Pantheon, rather than the exclusive nature of the Doctrine. If you are to remain in a particular place for life and be happy, shouldn’t the State make an effort to ensure everyone’s happiness?” “That is not the purpose of government, according the Emperor Arditi and any true Imperial patriot. The purpose of government is to maintain the status quo at all costs. It’s not about happiness, it’s about keeping the lower forms of life in line.” Samantha was a bit taken aback by Eisenheim’s decidedly Hobbesean view on society, but at the same time, she wasn’t surprised. Here was a guy that was such a nationalist that he had posters of two of the Indiction Guards, Amaranth Morgana and Kasumi Ayanura, both beautiful and elegant in their own sense of dark elegance and provocative, sexualized class, respectively, hanging on his bedroom wall as a teenager instead of celebrities or sports figures, and memorized the works of Emperor Alexander Arditi and the leader of the Eta Carinae High Council, Antonio Marduk, by age 10. Eisenheim was straight as an arrow and would not bend to temptations…it was almost frustrating for Samantha, who loved to get intimate with those she loved, she had plans to “have seven children and the biggest, prettiest mansion-yacht in the known universe” with the man she married, and Eisenheim, even though he was handsome as could be, with his black hair, soft blue eyes and handsome, pale face, just didn’t appear interested in Sam as much as he said he was, and if he was, he certainly had a funny way of showing it. Both Sam and Ferdinand sat down at the dining room table, reserved for the Eisenheim family, directly underneath the statue of the Emperor and the two Chief Indiction Guards, Irkaya Falkenbach and Selene Falkenbach, husband and wife, and so heavily modified by genetic augmentations and technological evolution that they barely looked human, they looked part tree, part bird, part Psi, a race that had evolved on Earth before the Second Indiction wiped them out, and part human, as well as Sei Ikkiku, the de-facto Empress. Samantha sat down and took her coat off, revealing her long, beautiful burgundy dress. She took a swig of red wine and wiped the excess off of her lips with a napkin. “Are you sure it’s proper for a lady to drink like that?” Ferdinand teased. “Oh, stop teasing me! Look who’s talking, wearing your hat and carrying a sword at the dinner table…” Sam joked. “ Ferdinand…I have a question for you.” Ferdinand knew that by Sam’s tone, she was going to ask him a deep, hard question, and she was going to expect an honest answer, and quite often Sam’s questions had no easy answers. “What would that be?” Ferdinand asked, trying not to sound nervous. “Do you really love me?” The question hit Ferdinand like a punch to the stomach. “Why…yes, why would you think otherwise?” “You never want to get intimate with me…ever. You claim to have loved me since age 14, you even told me I looked like an angel on my 16th birthday, but you never did anything to really show it. You may be a master wordsmith, but, I’m starting to think that’s all you have to offer me, is just words. They have no meaning without actions to back them up, and I really want someone who pays attention to me more in a physical, intimate, loving way, than someone who just talks about me being so pretty. If you really thought I was pretty, you would have probably slept with me already.” “PFFFT…” Ferdinand spit his drink out of his mouth at that statement. “What?! No, it…it would not be proper for me to…” Samantha undid her dress straps and let her shoulder straps fall. “Ferdinand…you’re not gay, are you?” “No!! Why would you think that?” “Then prove it to me tonight…I’ll be waiting in your bedroom. You’ll have to come upstairs eventually…” Sam re-did her dress straps and walked upstairs. “She’s really going upstairs to wait, isn’t she…” Ferdinand said to himself. “Sir, if I might offer a suggestion…why not just go along with it? She likes you, and you should just stop being so nervous.” one of the butlers said. “I guess…I think she’s just trying to manipulate me though…I don’t like that. Samantha’s got ulterior motives with this, really…like, trying to get married or something…” “It would definitely help the company, though, and improve stock ratings for both St. John’s Hotels and Eisenheim Illusions Corporation on the Geldern Stock Exchange.” Ferdinand cracked an evil, Machiavellian smile, the demented smile of someone who knew that he was going to get exactly what he wanted. “You know what…you’re right. If being intimate with Samantha will make my company more money, I’m all for it. Roger, you really know how to speak my language. It’s a shame you weren’t born into my family, you would make an excellent sibling rival for me to crush.” Ferdinand said, standing up from his table, leaving the plates empty for the waiters to clean. “Roger, clean those up! I can’t abide filth.” “Yes sir…” Roger said, sighing heavily. Eisenheim walked up the spiral staircases, past all the pictures of former leaders of the company, his father, his grandfather and the company’s founder, his great-grandfather, who served in the 181st Imperial Legion, the Symphony of Lightning. Just then, he walked past the staff quarters, where the maids and butlers stayed in the house-yacht, and overheard a few of the maids chatting about the celebrity media like a bunch of clucking chickens, in Eisenheim’s opinion, he tried to distance himself from intimacy as much as possible, claiming that he was above base human nature. Samantha was not the first person to suggest that he was gay, Lucian Moonraiser used to tease him about that all the time. He wasn’t, he just took himself that seriously. Just then, a small robot hovered over to Eisenheim and asked him what he was looking for. “I’m looking for Samantha, did you see where she went?” “She’s in your room sir, getting changed, into her “special outfit.” the robot said, with a completely monotone voice. “Oh jeez…do I dare open that door?” Eisenheim thought, approaching his bedroom door, much like a criminal approaching the execution chamber. He nervously turned the knob, and turned on the light, and sure enough, he saw Samantha, laying on his bed, dressed in a black, frilly set of lingerie. Without a word, she jumped up and ran at Eisenheim, tackling him to the floor with a thud. “Hey! I knew you’d see it my way eventually. By the way, your nose is bleeding a bit.” Sam said, touching his nose with her index finger. “Listen, Sam, I had an epiphany downstairs. Your words really spoke to me there, I realize that it is not unnatural, and to deny myself sexual pleasure is to deny my humanity. It is only in the name of acting as a human being, and a member of the human race, as well as love, that I do this.” Eisenheim said, lying masterfully about his true “epiphany” with his conversation to Roger. “Samantha, I had an idea based on what you were saying, about the Regenera Strain?” “Oh? What would that be?” Sam said, putting her hand down Eisenheim’s shirt, and sitting on his lap. “Let me ask you…have you ever dreamed of seeing an extinct animal? One that no longer exists?” “Yes, I have, I’ve always wanted to see a Mauritius Blue Pigeon.” Eisenheim had a confused look on his face. “Why that one? It was just a bright blue pigeon with a cockscomb crest on its head.” “It’s really pretty, I have an art book with a painting of it.” “Well, what if I told you I could bring them back from the dead? Not just that, but create an entirely new biosphere, of every organism that had ever gone extinct, and entirely new ones, ones that came straight from our imaginations. We’d repopulate the depraved, deprived ecosystems of the Egoist Crown Empire with our own creations, and rise to equal status with the Emperor. You and me, as the gods of the new universe, our souls united as one and our bodies immortalized by the Regenera Strain, you would be eternally young and beautiful, and I would be seen as something far greater than even the Emperor. I always wanted to be in the military, but thanks to my chronic condition, I could not. I must find another way to make my life meaningful, and writing novels is not enough, no, the Universe is not enough!! I love you, Samantha, and I love power, money and everything that those things afford me. There was once a man named Niccolo Machiavelli, who wrote a book called Il Principe, speaking about love and lust for power among men, and that wealth and power are the only goals that men strive to possess. These men, the Machiavellian scholars, eventually became modern businessmen and women, tyrants, leaders, and anyone who seeks power. “Good” and “evil” are similar in almost every way, as are “love” and “hate,” “life” and “death” and “darkness” and “light.” These polar opposites, when considering that these feelings are so strong, so powerful, and so right when you feel them, are all offshoots of man’s lust for power. This is the very philosophy behind the Egoist Crown. The Everlasting Iron Crown of Thorns, that is the egocentric desires of the Empire and every society that has ever existed, hang over its head like a Sword of Damocles, slowly crushing society under the weight of its own selfish, egoist desires, this, this is the flaw of Machiavelli, his ideology is self-destructive and masochistic, like someone who enjoys pain or a dominatrix. However, if we work together, we can discover the secret to everlasting life, and everlasting power. Samantha, let me take you to Paradise.” “But…I’ll feel guilty if something bad happens to someone…I wasn’t raised to hurt people.” “Who says you have to harm anyone?! Didn’t you ever dream of anything more than the life of an heiress? I, for one, have seen so much already, my writing reflects that. My observations are simple. We live in a universe where millions commit suicide daily, an overwhelming majority hate their existence, the leading causes of premature death in the universe are stress-related, what it costs to eradicate the major issues facing the Empire is spent on just a few days of military operations that had best be used elsewhere. This is caused by just a few rotten people. These people are the backward, regressive-minded members of society who seek democracy and peace. They claim that we, the Empire’s patriots, are warmongers with a flawed sense of direction. They claim that the only enemy we have is hate and war, and that we must unify, not divide. What they fail to see is that this is exactly the vision of universe that the Empire holds. Unity between brothers, a newfound glory in the Pantheon to drive decadence and backwardness out of the universe; the only reason war does not destroy and divide the Imperial Races of the Empire is because they have found peace through battle. Only by conquering the enemies, ignorance and hate, can we find peace, and if that conquest requires war, so be it. I am playing God by creating new life and a new Biosphere. So what? What has God ever done for our Empire? Though Pantheon Doctrine accepts Him into our lexicon, it doesn’t placate Him any more than it placates any other god from any of the Imperial Races. The only true God is Emperor Arditi, and even HE has his flaws, namely that he tolerates backwardness as a form of entertainment. Politics is not about games. It’s about getting things done, and that’s something that I’ve been taught to do since birth. So don’t feel guilty about anything, Sam…in this universe, everyone’s guilty of something…” “Then get changed and come to bed with me!” Sam said, taking a sip of red wine. “Ok…fine, if you insist.” Ferdinand went into the bathroom to get changed out of his clothes. After a few minutes, Ferdinand came out of the bathroom and lay in bed with Sam, who had also taken off her underwear, and lay under the covers together. “Sam, this is…strange, I feel very peaceful now, you make me nervous, because you suit me so well, but I truly love you because you are a woman that can do more than bitch and nothing else. You aren’t like the other heiresses on Lilliana V, you’re kind, smart, funny and beautiful, and I would be happy to surrender my virginity to you.” “As would I. To our first time, sweetheart.” Sam and Ferdinand both took a sip of wine from their glasses and turned out the lights. As they locked in sexual embrace, Sam thought about Ferdinand’s words, and his offer to join him in instilling the fear and reverence of God in the Empire of the Egoist Crown. Sam had always been happy where she was and with her life, but she had always dreamed of something more, and Ferdinand was, in his own unique way, the man she’d dreamed of her whole life. She felt Ferdinand kiss her, and it was a wonderful, exhilarating feeling. “I wonder if all men are so good at kissing…” she thought. She felt, at that moment, like she was in a never-ending paradise, an endless, tropical utopia where the Egoist Crown was finally lifted from their heads, a high that could not be matched by any drug. The kiss, far more than the orgasm, made this night truly special for her. “That must be what men call ‘instinct.’” Sam thought. Ferdinand wasn’t doing much except pinching her awkwardly in uncomfortable places and grunting slightly, so it wasn’t likely that he was thinking much throughout the whole sex. Perhaps he was, or perhaps he was just a typical “man in bed” and didn’t see sex in the same way a woman did. Just like that, however, it was over way too fast, and Ferdinand quickly fell asleep, just as the suns outside changed the sky’s hue to dark blue, the equivalent of midnight. Sam kissed Ferdinand on the forehead, just as she fell asleep to the hum of the Lordly Iron Hand’s engines. Her dreams would take her into Paradise, and those dreams would now be brightened by the thought of being at Ferdinand’s side for his coming New Biosphere. The Empire would see no threat in that, the Pleiadeans could not make an arrest without the Emperor’s approval, and as long as Arditi was fine with the project, there was no danger of Imperial entanglements. As both Sam and Ferdinand fell asleep, Sam was awoken by the sound of a knock at the door. “Mr. Eisenheim, there’s no toilet paper in the staff quarters bathroom…you gave the man who replaces that the day off yesterday and I can’t go without a new roll…” a fat, droning man’s voice came in from behind the door. Eisenheim was already fast asleep, so Sam kindly pressed the notification button that there was no toilet paper in the staff bathroom, robots replaced the roll after staff hours. “Thanks!” the man’s voice said as he saw a robot move towards the bathroom. Sam sighed with a silly tone, and fell asleep.

                    1. Arrival in Delta Dromius

The two of them awoke the next morning to the sounds of sailors and crewmen singing songs in the crew mess hall, on Lilliana V house-yachts, crew and passengers were all separated according to class, much like on the Titanic. Ferdinand was up and dressed well before dawn, as usual, with his usual Fedora hat, outfit, cape and rapier sword, he had enjoyed his night with Sam, still sleeping peacefully, but she knew him well, Ferdinand was always up before dawn, to get a jump on the day, even when he was not working on anything. The Hand was just 15 minutes from port in Delta Dromius, and the yacht, which steered itself robotically, was already in communications with the Delta Dromius Port Authority to dock. Ferdinand need only be on the bridge for docking. Starships were seen flying overhead, on approach to Symphonia Spaceport, some had Imperial insignias on them as well, the Hammer, Cross and Moon Crescent. Smaller boats, fishing boats, sailboats and even graceful clipper ships sailed through the lilies of the Global Lake, near Delta Dromius, the massive Hand sending robotic signals to the other boat’s computers, letting their crews know that the 1,200-foot ship was coming through. Along with the Lordly Iron Hand, two house-yachts were very frequent visitors to Delta Dromius, the Seraphim Serenade, the St. John family yacht, and the Sundered Storm, the Moonraiser family yacht, just as large and spectacular as the Hand was, were often docked in the Reserved Section of the Delta Dromius Marina. To be granted a slip in that port, always fenced off and forbidden for anyone except those with permits to venture onto the docks, was the epitome of status symbol in the Empire of the Egoist Crown, there were actual Jungsturm-clad officers there, armed with DN-17 blaster rifles, that would yell if anyone outside that rarefied world even so much as looked at the yachts for too long, it was that exclusive. The system made no exceptions. The ravenous swarms of Skoades, small, flesh-colored, mono-tentacled, heart-shaped, eyeless squid-like creatures that swam around the gurry dumps on the docks, would feast on any doubts of who was in charge. Ferdinand was preparing to disembark, to meet his father on Delta Dromius, the Emperor himself was there to speak to the corporate elite, and he would make particular mention of EIC and its contributions to the recently-completed “Second Indiction,” the reconquest of Earth from the Psi. Sam slowly woke up and realized that she had to be on the dock in 15 minutes…she had overslept. Jumping out of bed, still wearing her underwear, she scrambled to get dressed and comb her long hair as the suns outside changed the sky from dark red to pumpkin-orange, indicating the 10:00 A.M hour. Sam, however, had mastered quickly getting ready down to a science. With just 5 minutes before the house-yacht entered the harbor, Sam joined Ferdinand on the bridge, looking out over the stylish prow and forecastle deck of the Hand. The skyscrapers of Delta Dromius were jutting out of the water directly ahead, with the ship’s auto-captain computer switching into docking mode at a pre-programmed distance from port. “You’re late again, Samantha…” Ferdinand said. “Well, you tired me out last night, and you pinched me painfully a few times, I had to sleep late to get my energy back, but…thank you, you proved that you really do care about me…just stop being so nervous, that’s all.” Samantha smiled and kissed Ferdinand just as the Port Authority SATCOM operators were contacting the bridge. “This is Lordly Iron Hand, were are inbound for Slip 3, Reserved Section, over.” “Scanning…credentials approved, welcome back to Delta Dromius, Ferdinand, your father is expecting you.” The docking official cleared them to dock, just as Hand passed the red buoy to enter the harbor, signaling the Hand to decelerate, which the computer promptly did. Just then, a message came in over the satellite communications grid, from another house-yacht, called the Forbidden Kiss. “Oh God…” Ferdinand sighed. He looked out to the starboard side to see a huge, sleek, flaming red custom house-yacht, with more excesses than any other yacht on Lilliana V. “It’s…Veronica Vercetti.” “Who’s that?” Samantha said, curious to Ferdinand’s hateful tone of voice. “She’s the Imperial Duke of Lilliana V’s 23-year old daughter, and she’s a total spoiled brat who lives on the best house-yacht imaginable, has all the finest things and is nauseatingly gorgeous, but does not take the responsibility of her position seriously at all and spends her life lounging around with her servants and crew doing everything for her, drinking fine wine and enjoying all the finest things in the universe, without doing anything to deserve them. My father would never have tolerated such laziness.” “Well, Ferdinand, have you ever considered the possibility that she was just raised differently? Some people are taught that hard work is imperative, even if they really don’t have to work hard to get to where they want to be, like you were, but others, lucky enough to be born into this lifestyle, take full advantage of it, she’s rich and she’s in a position of political authority too, she just wants to enjoy her life before she takes over for her father’s position.” Samantha said, trying to reason with Ferdinand. Ferdinand pulled out his Galaxy Net, a cell phone that also functioned as a supercomputer, and pulled up a picture that depicted Veronica in her skimpy swimsuit sitting in a Jacuzzi bathtub full of money, holding a glass of extremely expensive burgundy, followed by a picture of her sitting at an extremely elegant table for 12 people with just her sitting at the head of it and 11 giant bags of money in each of the other seats, wearing her black evening gown, again holding a glass of red burgundy, and another photo of her showed her in her massive, off-world estate on the planet Isla Serena, surrounded by minimum-wage servants bringing her whatever she wanted, and Veronica just yelling at them and forcing them to do menial, pointless jobs under the threat of imprisonment or death, because of her standing as an Imperial Duchess. Just these pictures alone were a good argument for Marxism…if the Empire didn’t ban any other ideology except Pantheon Doctrine. “Do you see now who we’re dealing with?” Ferdinand grumbled. “Yes…wow…let me ask, though, how did you get her pictures?” “I hacked her profile on the Galaxy Social Net and used a catcher program to download them, just so I could show everyone here what a twat she is. My intelligence and the fact that I have a soul gives me the right to do that.” “So you’re saying the fact that you’re smarter than 99% of the universe on Imperial IQ tests and you’re not spoiled gives you the right to blackmail someone who is?” “Pretty much. She deserves it and anyone, even the Emperor would say so.” Her sleek, stylish house-yacht pulled alongside the Lordly Iron Hand as both yachts entered the harbor, it was quite an impressive sight, seeing both of these huge vessels glide into the Reserved Section of the Harbor, with robotic tugs and smaller Animas working as dockworkers to moor the two yachts to the piers. Once the yachts were docked, it was time to disembark. The gangplanks were lowered onto the dock, and as Samantha and Ferdinand walked down the gangplank, Veronica appeared out of nowhere right in front of them. “Hold it right there, honey, where do you think you’re going without saying hi to me first?” “You’re right about one thing, she is very pretty…” Samantha said, under her breath. Veronica was dressed in a Draconis Marunae Tropica style outfit, a popular, elegant tropic style on Lilliana V that had a long, red and black, brightly-colored, lacy-frilled sarong, a matching, extremely revealing, fluffy, kimono-style top with “lotus-frills” on the shoulders, two serpent-shaped earrings and a red headband for her long, silky brown hair. Her facial expression, complemented by her seductive eyelashes and eyebrows perfectly, said it all. “Using teleporter technology, I see…” Ferdinand said, annoyed that this 6’4”, blue-eyed nagger was standing in his way. “Of course, why not use the technology if you can afford it? You always used to charm me with your smarts, I love that about you!” Veronica said, placing her lacy-gloved hands on Ferdinand’s face, pinching it obnoxiously. “Veronica…I never realized how pale your skin is, you’re whiter than sour cream.” Ferdinand asked, trying to get Veronica to leave. “Yeah, it’s a problem when I try to tan, I end up looking like a lobster fresh out of the pot. In that case, you can just butter me up with some aloe lotion, though…I like nothing better than a massage after sitting on the boat deck all day.” Veronica kissed Ferdinand sweetly. “Miss Vercetti, the transport is waiting!” One of her attendants called for her. “I think you’d better go.” Ferdinand said. “Ciao, sweetheart, I’ll see you around!” Veronica said, walking away. “Well, you certainly have no shortage of beautiful young rich girls that love you…” Samantha sighed, now realizing exactly what Ferdinand was talking about on the yacht. “You used to like her, didn’t you?” Samantha said, walking towards the gate, guarded by two soldiers. “Yes, we never actually dated…I must admit, I always liked her eyes. “Just her eyes, Ferdinand? I saw you looking at a certain part of her anatomy, don’t think I’m blind. She saw it too, and she looked like she was enjoying every second of the attention you gave her. Women like her annoy the hell out of me, she wants attention and nothing more.” “No…Samantha, you don’t know her like I do. She may appear to know absolutely nothing about anything, but that’s intentional. She can act like a dope or a Petrarchian, Machiavellian genius, depending on the situation that suits her, and she’s a master at combat too, with any weapon, but prefers ranged weapons to melee.” “Then that means that you are her one weakness.” “Precisely. Veronica has connections that I will need in order to achieve my ends, for she is the Devil on my shoulder, and you are the Angel. One cannot have a full conscience without learning to use both ends of the moral dichotomy to their advantage. No matter what happens, I hold all the cards in my hand. I am a King, and she is but a pawn. Let us continue, now is not the time to discuss this, she may be listening…but, that may also be a good thing.” Veronica stepped into her custom 8-wheeled, Malheim-manufactured, Orpheus limousine; Malheim was a subsidiary of Rothus Heavy Engineering, which designed the military vehicles used by the Empire, from the Kabuto-class main battle tanks, to the hovering Obha-class artillery tanks, to the twin-barreled Jaguar-class APC, the hovering Jackal-class light tank, the Rhino-class main battle tank, the Osprey-class anti-aircraft tank, and the Timberwolf-class 6×6 infantry transport and its variants, the most common ground vehicles used by the Empire. The Orpheus had 8 wheels, organized into four wheels on each side of the car, two in front, two in back, and the sleek, starfighter-like car was powered by plasma energy, made almost no noise and was almost unmistakable on the streets of Delta Dromius. The Duchess’ limo was protected by a motorcade of two Timberwolf transports, armed with heavy machine gun turrets, and two Mjolnir-class gunships, produced by Kraid Fleet Systems, the primary ship manufacturer for the Empire. The motorcade got underway, as Ferdinand, Samantha and Veronica all moved, under heavy guard, through the spotless streets of Delta Dromius, like all Imperial cities, patrolled by marching columns of Jungsturm-Nordsterne-clad Imperial Legion officers, the Lolita-EGA military unforms, of which there were both male and female variants, were the non-combat uniforms of the Legions Empire-wide. These peacetime military police/elite supercommandos, the Night Hammer Commandos, were led by a legendary soldier in the Imperial military, a Sangresaara named Lumen Ash, his uniform and armor was heavily influenced by elaborate Japanese samurai armor; he was a genius scholar of history, science and literature, and a supremely confident tactician and warrior. He was never wrong, never failed at any task and always did everything in his own, unique and savagely brutal way, most in the Legions revered him almost as much as the Emperor, even the Indiction Guard saw this huge, 15-foot tall, split-lipped warrior as an equal. His rank of Supreme Commander of the Night Hammers made him the agent of justice over Imperial society, he instilled the fear of God into any troublemakers with his access to the entire Empire’s resources and his massive, amorphous-titanium, twin-prong sword, he preferred the more visceral feeling of metal cutting flesh, than the static burn of a Nano-Sword or the the searing heat of a plasma weapon. Ash was an awesome sight in his uniform, and his eyes glowed an eerie whitish yellow. He would doubtlessly be at the Emperor’s speech, after commanding the Night Hammers on Earth during the Second Indiction, as would hundreds of other Night Hammers from all 135 Imperial Races and the majority of the corporate elite standing closest to the Emperor, but thousands of ordinary spectators would be watching the LED projection screens too. As the motorcades drove towards the Delta Dromius city square, people on the sidewalks looked and watched as the limos went past, with the military vehicles everywhere, and Night Hammers shepherding civilians into the designated spectating areas. The Emperor’s shuttle would arrive in a few minutes, and when he did, the entire planet would be on maximum security. The ride in the limousines did not last long, as the limousines arrived

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