Aboard the TDF Capital
Much distress had been coming from the inner sanctums of the Dominion. The wave of unrest that has so thoroughly spread across the dominion has forced the Emperor to have to redirect himself back to doing a bit of actual work.
"I can't believe it! They canceled it! The fucking pussies!" an exasperated emperor shouted upon hearing the news while his smashed his couch with the mechanical arms of the powersuit.
The TV screen in his wooded imperial lounge in large text read, "BREAKING NEWS: The 415th Annual Denebian Slaughterfest has been canceled. The Gladiator by the name of Hi'bli the Elder broke from the arena and eviscerated 46 spectators before the local militias were able to terminate the rogue gladiator. The local organizers express disappointment and say the emperor needs to wait a few weeks before returning out of concern of potential assassination."
The emperor however, proved to be just mad and cannot believe that the one thing good left in this galaxy has now been taken from him. Than one of the advisors entered the room. It is some middle-aged woman dressed in a business suit taken from ancient times and modified with lots of gilded dominion regalia. She saw the emperor’s frustration and said to him, "We know you were excited about the games but one of the gladiators ate a couple spectators and until they get their business under control, we have to do something less life risking."
"Like what?" the emperor barks at her, annoyed at the little girl now talking to her.
"We need to go to the imperial senate." she says to him.
The emperor just shook his head a bit.
"We are far from there, little girl." he replied, not really giving it much a second thought.
The advisor than told him, "We have been en route the whole time, some navigation errors happened."
“What?!” the emperor than shouted, completely exasperated at how this could ever happen.
The advisor quickly than assured the Emperor by telling him, "Don't worry, we will deal with the perpetrator of that sabotage."
The circumstances all vexed the emperor somewhat, but to him it made sense. Aliens are like animals after all, wild monsters that eat people. Even the little rat people, they are like piranhas.
"Uhh… that... makes sense..." he replied. With a bit of indifference, he said to the advisor, "well I guess I need to get some of that mess under control. Why did they have to rebel? Dominion has done so much for them, but they rebel. They are crazy people."
She shrugged her shoulders not sure at all herself. She than mentioned to the Emperor, “We also got you the proper stimulants this time. It will help you speak with the imperial grace we need in these now trying times. We had an issue with the last shipment that ruined the speech and the traitors who did that have been purged."
"Oh good... They made me look bad. Out the airlock?" the emperor asked.
"Yes." She replied elatedly as a small robot brought the stimulants into the cabin and puts the stimulants into his suit.
The emperor after a brief pause, said with relief, "Good."
The stimulant was injected through his decrepit yet gilded, medical power suit through slots in the back. He made a loud 'aaaaahhhhh' noise as it was injected. The emperor motioned to the advisor to leave the room as the substance began to do its work.
The advisor bowed to the emperor before leaving the room.
In the hallways, the Advisor than met up with admiral of the Emperor's closest Dominion Guard. The admiral is an old guy like the emperor, with pale skin and a harsh demeanor. He lacked the advanced age of the emperor however, being a mere 74 years old and would look to humans today like some guy in their early 40s.
"Wow. That worked?" the admiral asked the advisor, with a bit of unease held back only by the stern, rigid posture he habitually took.
"Yes. The emperor bought the story entirely. Despite me being told the gladiator ate people yet on the TV it said it eviscerated people!" she told the admiral. The admiral looked for a bit at his wrinkly arm and then back at the advisor.
The Admiral than told the Advisor, "The technicians and editors we had intercept the signal of the emperor's television thought that wasn't believable. Like lots of things that are impossible to believe like all these nutjobs who think they are entitled to just break away and form their own petty little fiefdoms. The glorious Imperial Executive of the Dominion needed to get off the TV for the good of the Dominion and that is what we made sure of. Your role was the easy part, you know. I had to get enough people to go with this and all you had to do was keep a story straight. You could not even do that. The Emperor may be advanced in age, but he is not stupid. He can't possibly believe that intelligent creatures would well..."
The admiral than just briefly stopped talking, as if something is off in giving xenos any credit at all. Then he proceeded to finish his rant, saying "What kind of intelligent being would eat other intelligent beings anyways? That would be fucked up. Whatever, it worked."
"I'm amazed you don't know the way the emperor thinks much even after all this time." the advisor replied with a bit of a smirk. The admiral paused at this slight from an advisor who has only been advising the emperor for a few years.
The admiral than proceeded to say, "I'd rather not underestimate the emperor of this vast Dominion. Doing that can get you killed. As you should know with how you got that one guy killed who did not need to be killed at all."
The advisor shrugged her shoulders, doing the best she could to avoid saying anything more. Then an announcement was made: "Destination reached. Welcome back to Earth, our great Imperial Executive Octo Smith."
The Emperor proceeded to burst open through the Cabin door, elated. Too elated.
"It's time!" he shouted, almost childishly as the stomping of his power suit shakes the room and he began to depart from the ship and to the senate as a strange, shadowy figure followed him. Faint sounds of whispers can be heard.
Neither the Admiral nor Advisor said much after that, just disturbed by the emperor’s behavior. A sense of dread had begun to seep into their heads as the triumphal regal music began elsewhere.
Earth: The Senate
The senate was a vast space. As a large, decked room akin to an amphitheater where the senates all sit faced towards the center stage where the emperor and whoever takes the floor faced all the rest. The arrangement of the large, theater-like room had the senators of the inner sectors are seated closer to the Emperor than the many seats of the outer sectors. The room for all its fabric and decor, showed the scars of multiple rounds of remodeling over the centuries including bullet holes from prior inner Terran conflicts, secession crises and acts of terrorism.
There was also the seams from the multiple times the room had to be resized to fit ever expanding amount of space the Dominion has come to occupy. The room currently is a vast thing, with hundreds of senators all in the same place. And many others with proxy avatars or surrogates, especially with all the commotion that had been going on. The senate also was staffed with many armored guards wearing gilded power armor of a sleeker, more modern design than what the emperor had. They stood still in the senate, in an almost statue-like fashion and with hawk like sight on all parts of the senate. Worries of assassins filled the hallways, so they were summoned to maximum capacity.
The Emperor than proceeded to make his entrance and all the senators lower themselves so the Emperor stands high over them. Trumpets that had an electronic tinge to them were played as he triumphantly walked into the senate in his massive and rustic powersuit that shook the floor of the senate itself with each step.
He then proceeded to make it to the center of the room, facing all the senators who watched their Emperor anxiously. Something was a bit different, however. Some of the senators seem to be missing. Others are here using some androids to be telepresent. Others still have someone else representing them instead. Cowards, all of them.
Among the senators, Octo Smith with the heightened perception of the stimulants noticed some mumbling going on.
In particular, two senators in the back with one named Brundy Winters and the other named Mac Reed. Brundy was a gruff guy, but with blood shot eyes and a whitened beard from the terror he had been faced with. He turns to his colleague and begins whispering quite loudly, "There is a cult, Mac. You know it as someone also in that area. Our Peacekeepers were not equipped to handle them. I had seen their cult rituals firsthand once… We cannot let them nearby. Yet here we are, playing these games instead of just letting the Dominion Guard do its thing. Are they even aware? I do not feel Octo is there anymore. He used to actually know what he was doing… now he just is this mumbling mess."
Mac Reed, however, proved even more shell shocked and barely can articulate a response. Mac was just there, shaking, with an absolute paleness about him and his lanky, almost skeletal body. "...The OPAO... I think they are here... they're coming for me... I can feel it in my bones..."
"You're all bones, Mac!” Brundy retorted, before he told Mac, “No one knows what an OPAO is anyways, is that some dish local to your sector? Since if that is what you are worried about at least you do not have those loonies that worship suns trying to invade your sector."
Reed, a bit off kilter tried to explain, "It's what they call themselves... the society that formed under our nose..."
"Ha! You can't manage shit.” Brundy excitedly insulted, “Mac, you are a terrible senator for letting that happen. What sorta senator are you? All bony and stuff, please eat some more. Mac, you're making the Dominion look bad."
Mac Reed, sick of Brundy’s insults outbursted "Brundy! Please shut the hell up! You are the most insufferable fuck I have ever met! People are fucking dropping like flies all over my sector and your stupid ass thinks the solar nutjobs are more dangerous than spies killing your closest friends!"
That outburst was very much heard by the Emperor, who glared at them in anger. Other nearby senators also started glare at them and shouted at them, "Little children, you will be the first to speak!"
A lot of the senators were silent and just rolled with it. The punishment made no sense, but why question it?
The emperor than proceeded to say, "Now with that foolishness dealt with, it is time for my speech.”
The senators became all ears.
The Emperor began, "Some unexpected trouble has been reported from... everywhere... What collective madness has possessed our citizens of the outer colonies, will take centuries to truly know. But I have full confidence in our peacekeeping forces to handle the threat.
Since it has... come to the attention of my closest advisors... in the many worlds they operate, that there is a grand conspiracy against us. See, we have known for a while of the worlds of the lost ones and various... distant beings. All of whom have chosen to stand in the way of a unified human society in favor of petty fiefdoms.
We have moved long past the era of fiefdoms in our grand imperial republic. But there are cabals of warlords in the outer colonies trying to monopolize the power for themselves. And our warp sensors have picked up quite a bit of activity from the area. There is suspicion to believe they are collaborating with some other people; we just do not know what exactly.
We also have once again intercepted signals from alien robots that we believe to be planning their own invasion of the Dominion, but we do not have much to say on such bizarre signals. One of the people I talk to behind closed doors suggested they were working with that wannabe warlord Katrin. It is hard to believe that anyone, even traitors, would work with aliens. But who knows how desperate they are to rip apart the greatest experiment in all human history to drag us back thousands of years? I would not want to imagine something so stupid as that.
But that is why I called you all here, as the reports are mountainous. So mountainous. And so, I expect that Brundy Winters now speak. He may be himself a mountain of a man, but he must speak to us of the situation in his sector."
Brundy Winters than moved to the floor of the Senate and the Emperor moved to his own seat. Of which was in front of all the other Senators who silently started to judge Brundy Winters.
Brundy, on the floor is just suddenly not able to really say much. The judging eyes of all the senators prove too much for him. His composure broke, instead of giving a well-informed speech instead begins to start hollering,
"My sector is about to be invaded by the most dangerous things the Dominion has ever witnessed- raving cultists of human origin that worship stars want to murder us, and the Peacekeepers can't handle that! They are invading, we need the Terran Defense Force to stop these marauders before they kill everyone in my sector!"
The Emperor just nodded a bit, with a bit of irritation at the idea some lowly cult needs the Terran Defense Force.
"Anything else?" The emperor clearly agitated asked.
"...No sir…" Brundy sheepishly replied after all that hollering.
Brundy was motioned to leave and the Emperor stated, "It is now time for the second Senator to speak. Mac Reed, as you have made yourself well known to the Senate you must now speak."
The problem was, Mac Reed was not leaving his seat. So, one of the Dominion Guards had to walk in from their position and pick him up forcefully. The guard dragged him to the center of the amphitheater. Mac Reed was crying and shaking in just utter terror as the strong arms of the powersuit wearing guard constrained him in place. Worse still, he was forcibly made to look at all the senators, some of whom were already laughing at the scene.
"Now that you have cooperated. Please, tell your fellow senators what you have seen." The emperor tells Mac Reed.
Mac Reed was barely able to compose himself as he shook in just sheer terror with tears down his face as he stammered "th- there is people, bad people- they're in this very fucking room! They are here! they are fucking here I see three of them! Shadowy organizations have been stalking me in my sector from the OPAO, my officers said they go a bar where they kidnapped someone and-"
"That's enough." The emperor barked, cutting Mac Reed off. "We don't need your outer sector attention seeking. Get him out of here." Mac Reed than was promptly grabbed by the powersuit guard and walked out of the room.
The Emperor took a breather as the screaming, bony figure shouted names before saying, "Now, we have another senator from that same area. A senator by the name of Alexandra Mars. She may now speak."
Alexandra Mars proceeded to walk to the center of the stage.
"She's one of them!" was faintly heard by Mac Reed before the door shut, silencing him.
Alexandra Mars was a rather… off kilter figure. Seemingly a typical looking human woman, but with uncanny professionalism to her that bothered some of the senators.
Senator Mars began to speak with a professionalism that other less attentive senators saw as a refreshing change of pace after the rancor of the disruption, however robotic her tone of voice and movement.
"My fellow senators, the Dominion was long been the place I have called home. Ever since the Emperor has picked me for the position of senator, I have done the best work I can to bridge the gaps between the inner and outer Dominion and in this trying time I have continued this work. Within the Orosian Union as the locals called themselves, we have done much to integrate the interests of the Dominion with that of the outer protectorates with our admirals and local planetary governors.
We also have cooperated with the various guilds of the local union to make a better, stronger and more united union that can handle the piracy of our sectors. We believe that the coalition we have been building can handle the solar crusaders and make sure the local economy prospers even as we take the fight to those who stand against our dominion."
Not much of the way of cheering is heard as she closed her speech. The Emperor just dismissively told her, "thank you for the words senator, you may now go."
As she left, a weird squeaking sound was heard, like that of some rodent but not much was thought of it.
The emperor, annoyed by the squeaking than moved on to ask the only senator he can stand at all, "Prime Senator, why is it so many are absent at this critical meeting?"
That Prime Senator was a woman by the name Maxine of Deneb. Maxine of Deneb happened to also have lots of financial investments in the Denebian Slaughterfest, something she proudly showed on her vest which with the standard Slaughterfest logo on it.
"Sir, we believe that there are plotters who have kidnapped many of our senators in multiple places! Especially in the sectors of that warlord Katrin. The reports that have come out of the area suggest that she has kidnapped the dignified senators Lewis and Maria Orange. We do know for what purpose or if they are even alive. The disastrous incompetence of the peace-keepers in the area leave us to believe we need to bring in the big guns." she told him, just rattling out everything with an intensity so great she barely paused between breathes.
"I see. Are we sure they are absent?" the emperor asked, having heard a name he had long forgotten.
The Prime Senator looked down at her holographic sheets in dismay while she was something and told the Emperor with less confidence, "You know... I am not sure. They are very messy in that part of the Dominion. Their peacekeepers are known for being the worst peacekeepers in the galaxy as is. Their tech is horribly out of date and no one knows how many forces we have out there because they keep lying on the sheets"
The Emperor, had a deeply vexed and wrinkly face of disappointment that the Prime Senator just looked away from in shame, if not due to whatever she was sniffing on her arm. The Emperor began to than rant at Maxine, losing what composure in his over engineered Powersuit he had, "Look Maxine, you may run the best system outside Earth, but do not insult the peacekeepers! They are perfection, the best of the best outside of the Defense Force itself which as I may stress is only for alien invasion."
Maxine proceeded to stand down, all too wary of pushing the Emperor too much.
The emperor, exasperated "Now, does anyone have actual evidence of alien invasion instead of all this hysteria about sun worshiping idiots and vague warp signatures from supposed alien robots?"
The senate was just silent. The murmurs started up again before the emperor shouted, "Silence! As no one has the courage I call on the senator James Clarke.”
James Clarke was a rather sleek guy, of whom was from one of the south eastern sectors of the Dominion that the ISC had yet to reach. He walked to the center with a grace, broad shoulders and augments that proved far removed from what most senators ever used. The Emperor, with a scowl on his face motioned the man to speak. He proceeded to do just that.
“Fellow Senators, there is mountains of evidence of UFO contact in many sectors from an entity known as the Foundry. This is well known. Now, I am not one to follow ancient conspiracies of lost exploration crews, empires of Romans capable of spaceflight or of the inter-dimensional plant creatures called Mowogi, but it is not a coincidence that Katrin seceded at the same time the Solar cultists have chosen to attack or of the many claims of mysterious agents acting in the northern sector including the subversion of a prison in that area."
Clarke started to than get a bit more intense, preaching "Our own team in advance of this meeting has used the Sector Sight System our colleagues on Parathalia developed to deduce the likelihood of the events that have transpired and simulate what would have to happen for such a wave of uprisings to occur. Our conclusion is there is smoke and even the slightest bit of snooping will find the fire. We have absolute confidence is outside interference going on in multiple sectors of the Dominion of alien origin, if not plain outside interference. And that should be no shock when we already know from from the Kinnis ruins that wormholes are possible!"
Than he just went overboard as he proclaimed with vindication and an arm raised, "There is a conspiracy against the Dominion! We are seeing but the puppets of a greater puppet master that seeks the Dominion's down-"
"You have had enough time to speak, loon!" The emperor loudly interrupted. Senator Clarke almost immediately deflated.
"We don't need this garbage here, get out." The emperor said to him in disgust at that sleek uppity little kid, "Like come on man... Katrin made you know... announcement and... petty warlords to joined in. You do not need aliens... they eat people... robot aliens, they are joke. Kinnis ruins, a joke. Those aliens are just stuff we pave over for our galactic frontier. They are not credible threats. All of you senators need to calm the fuck down.”
And with a motion to leave, James Clarke left without a word just completely ashamed of himself.
The Emperor meanwhile, felt like this shit has been dragging for far too long and despite many other senators not speaking at all.
The Emperor immediately took back the stage from the other Senators and began his closing speech to the best of his ability.
"Despite the arguments made by our diligent and well-respected senators from across the Dominion, we are not going to mobilize the Terran Defense Force or Dominion Guard against these... minor border threats. Come back when we can have hard evidence of the alien... robot... aliens... being actual threats, then we will deploy the Terran Defense Force. Until then, the most that shall be done, is a Dominion-wide lock down of all sectors to make the job of our competent and uh... well-armed Peacekeepers easier…"
The serum than had worn off. With a bit of a sudden jolt Octo Smith proudly announced, "Section 31 of the Terran Constitution, the rebellion protocols I invoke! Any ships without proper Dominion Identification outside their sector will be... assumed bad people if they refuse to be, smiling! ... With their local peacekeepers."
Loud cheers than consume the senate, reverberating across the whole place as if it was a sports game.
The Emperor, taking in the elation finally cried out, "Now we can go to the slaughterfest, that I proclaim to be reopened! Maxine, open the Slaughterfests! When I get to my ship, we are going straight to Deneb with this crisis now averted!"
More loud cheering continued in the moment. The emperor had proven himself once more. The games shall continue.
Deneb, the Slaughterfest
A large, spindly alien creature with cryptic glyphs streaming down their carapace moves its way around a dark room with its large legs and tendrils moving arise the bodies of slaughtered creatures that make it almost thankful for its weak sense of smell. The dark, cement room is a foggy place, but it is one it knows well as its prison. The creature, a Craetak, knows itself as Aunalak.
In its multi-tracked mind, it cannot help but see its own past as real as it sees the present, the traumas of countless battles it had been forced into. Yet it continues to stab at the carcass given to it in diligent frustration, for it is all the humans ever give to it. It knew of its once proud society, but now it just is forced to kill or be killed. It is left in this room, perpetually. In its isolation it had started to manifest itself fellow Craetak of the ancient orders its own mothers once spoke of.
‘Aunalak. Did they ever tell you?’ one of the hallucinatory beings asked it.
‘of what’? It wondered to its council.
‘Of the peaks, of the shining spires. Of the lost contact with the great, soulful Mediators?’
‘Lost cities to a greatness that was murdered, how can it be so in the same plane of existence as the exoflesh abominations who were granted so much power over us? They became our debt collectors, of all beings horrid and great in creation.’
The voices replied, ‘For they are temporal. These humans, they do not know much. It is obvious to us, as the records our friends had shown us… revealed them. The Mediators who the Craetak were once clients. We do not know what happened to the noble society they had, or how the flesh monsters took over and made us die for their amusement. But we have reason to believe them out there.’
Aunalak with skepticism asked, ‘On what basis? They had centuries to do something if they even existed to begin with.’
The voice replied, ‘You will see, for we must persist in fighting for at least this next cycle. You will continue the quest for higher Klautu and our soul will remain pristine no matter the blood on our limbs.
And than Aunalak cries out to it, 'We may be deprived of the pilgrimage, but my struggle is pure!’
As this was being thought, the sounds of human rancor were than heard as one of the flesh abominations told Aunalak, “It is time we let you back into the arena, Stiffy Stabbs.”