Disposing of the long standing imperial court was not something I set out to do in my lifetime. I figured I’d go through flight school, work in the military for a few years, take a wife, and retire to a little plot of skyland to do some farming. That day changed everything. The entire system was turned on its head. Honestly, I can’t complain too much, it did benefit me and my brothers in the end, and the galaxy at large, but by the suns both, this took time to process.The Journal of Penen
Place: The Capital
Planet: Chima, The Colga Galaxy
Subole had been able to forge out a memo that was sent to the list of delegates who were told to be on the lookout for Symone. It was an order to show up to the royal court on that fateful morning. Subole’s troops had moved in under the cover of darkness to take up residence around the perimeter of the city. Those that had family and friends within the city were sent in that evening to bring them out or had them catch trans flights off world quietly. Everyone under Subole’s charge understood that Symone was going in with the full goal to dethrone the emperor, but no one was sure what sort of devastation that would entail. Elite forces from the Fiws were sent in to take up unobtrusive positions near the court, where they detained the delegates and sent them out to a Fiws that had been turned into a temporary jail. The plan was proceeding smoothly.
Wain had gone into the city with the first troop wave to flesh out McAlister. He had scored the majority of the coins. Rew held onto the keystone coin, the last one needed to set the world on edge, at the gates to the court. Wain’s job was to bring McAlister to the court to push the plan that McAlister had originally put together. The group was going to commandeer the plan and make it their own.
The Ipty brothers had already infiltrated into the court through an opening in the security patrol around the towers. Otly had scored a position in with the catering staff. Patch, who had unrestricted access to the courts due to his research position, waltzed right on in without a second thought. Fado was going to guard the main gate once Solomon and Symone had made their way into the court with Kisinger. Togoya was waiting with Fado.
At the zenith of the red sun, Symone, Togoya, Kisinger and Solomon found themselves staring up at the court doors. Fado had taken up his position with his Jeck ax to protect the gate. Kisinger had become a manipulated puppet once the cerebral switch had been activated. The wind died down and the heat of the sun sizzled across the pavement. It was now or never. Kisinger and Togoya pushed open the door. Solomon led Symone in on her leash like he had at Kisinger’s. The cool of the interior was a slap to the face. The kiskisk stonework in the three story tall entryway was garish. Golden and glass curio cabinets ran the length of the hall. At the end of the hall was a massive round stained glass window depicting the space map of the Colga Galaxy. It cast brilliant dots of green, yellow, blue, and red across the walls and the floor.
In the middle of the hall, to the left of the entry way was another set of heavy Gogo oak doors. The small group trepidly walked to the hall. Symone could feel her heart pounding in her ears. She knew that this would mean freedom, chaos, liberation, confinement. This could all go wrong in so many ways that they had to get it right the first time, there would be no second chances. Wain and Rew rose from a seat that they had taken up in an alcove across from the double doors. McAlister rose with them.
“Isis, so nice to see you, Wain says that you have the last of the coins to finish off my collection. May I have it?” he asked.
“Oh, Mr. McAlister, how pleasant to see you again, it has been a while hasn’t it,” she said. McAlister finally took note of the ponderous situation that Symone was in. The Canto that he had employed as a translator had his most liable asset for protection on a leash. McAlister’s face paled. “What is going on here?” he demanded of Solomon.
“I am here with Kisinger to turn over Isis to the court of the emperor. Apparently she has been missing for quite some time. Togoya is turning himself over of his own free will,” Solomon supplied before pushing the door open. “But what about my coin?” McAlister screeched as the doors banged against the walls.
“What coins?” a deep male voice demanded in the echoing chamber. Where the hall had been comprised of dark kiskisk, the court was a brilliant, sparkling white of cemented Chima sand that had been inscribed with the history of the Colga Galaxy. Twenty windows occupied the throne wall, each depicting a stain-glass rendition of a predominant individual that contributed to the history and development of the court. The throne itself, ornately carved from the immense gnarl of a Gogo oak contained the lean form of a shrewish looking man decked in a grand cloak and fine linens. A young boy, maybe in his early teens, sat at the step of the throne, also in finely pressed linens.
Symone breathed deep to bide her time. She masked her face. She had hoped that Shunter would not been in that room.
“What coins?” the man asked of McAlister once more. McAlister stuttered for a second before straitening up and a smirk crossed his face. “My emperor, how grand to see you on this auspicious of mornings. I come to you with a prize,” he said, taking the leash out of Solomon’s hands suddenly. Solomon’s first instinct was to snatch back the leash, but Symone tapped him with her elbow as she was tugged forward into the room. Kisinger stood dully at the opening to the room. Wain and Rew had pushed past the dead weight and taken up guard at the entrance. McAlister pulled from his pocket a small brown leather bag that jingled. “You’re still working for me,” McAlister whispered to Symone as he held the bag up. “My emperor, years ago I helped you. I helped you with a financial endeavor that I have not received my fair share for. This is what I mean by coins. You have left me high and dry,” he pulled out a coin. The emperor looked at it dully. “So, you mean to tell me that you figured out how to remedy your own financial malady and chained my top assassin. I’m not seeing your point, McAlister,” the emperor waved aloofly. From Symone’s position in the middle of the hall, she was distinctly aware of light foot fall outside of the court in the hall. The group was gathering.
“My emperor,” McAlister rose to his full height, puffing himself out proudly, “I’ve come here to get rid of you. I am taking the throne with these,” he said proudly as he threw the coins on the ground. The emperor snickered, and then burst into rolling laughter. “You’ve lost it McAlister, you’ve gone completely insane,” he giggled. McAlister, turning red at the taunting quickly unleashed Symone, not thinking to check under her form-hiding cloak if there were chains binding her. That was the last thing he ever did. Symone, with the leash coming off, whirled into action, her hand coming out, plunging a tactical spike into his jugular. The man dropped to the floor, grabbing at his neck as his last drowning breath gurgle from his throat. She jumped back quickly, falling into the midst of the group that had accumulated at the door, hiding the pass off of the keystone coin from Rew to herself by the wide draping of her cape and her gliding movement. “Oh, brilliant, Isis,” the emperor praised her. He rose from his throne. Shunter looked up at him. The emperor’s hand gently patted him on the head as he left the platform. “I’m so thrilled to see you and your cousin, you had me worried. When Kail called to tell me of his incident with you two and an Elivik, I thought that something had gone wrong, I guess I was mistaken,” he tried to sound sincere and caring. “I see now that you were just making an effort to get rid of this problem for me,” he waved at McAlister’s lifeless body. From the emperor’s hand flashed a small vial on a chain wrapped around his finger. Symone’s heart sank as she suddenly realized that this was not going to be as easy as she had hoped. Usually the emperor kept that vial in his pocket. The fact that it was in his hand meant that the emperor knew that this was going to turn into a troublesome situation. It was the antidote to the breakable orb of poison within Shunter’s body.
She felt Honfu press at her side. “Hold,” she said quietly. The group froze it’s restless motion. Solomon followed her line of sight to find the vial. Her form had gone still. Calculations ran through her head as she watched the emperor advance toward the body. He leaned over to pick up a coin, analyze it, and drop it back onto the pile of coins. Shunter still sat passively at the steps. “Kisinger, I thought that you had fixed this problem for me,” the emperor grumbled. Symone’s shoulders tensed. This was no time to freeze up. The emperor stopped moving forward, finding the lack of Kisinger’s answer odd. His gaze traveled across the group that had gathered at the doors. “Isis?” he asked. There was a dash of black as she leapt into the air in a spiral, her cloak flying out to allow a rain of spikes and stars to fall on the emperor. He ducked back, quickly dodging. “You’re playing a dangerous game, Isis. The prince will not be pleased with you,” the emperor threatened. She kept her mouth shut, knowing any reply she would make would slow down her resolution to completely destroy this man. “Your father would be so disappointed in you,” the emperor yelled as he dodged up to the throne. Shunter had not moved from his spot. That was when Symone knew. She had waited too long to save her brother from the tyrant’s grip. “Emperor, what is she doing?” Shunter asked the man as Symone gained on the throne. “Something that she is going to regret,” the emperor said as he ran past the boy, slapping him hard on the back. The boy screeched in pain, and Symone knew that she had a set amount of time to dispose of the rat. “Look what you’ve done, Isis,” the man yelled as he ducked behind the throne. “You bastard,” Symone shouted back as she pulled a twin set of long knives from a sheath at her back. She spun them around in her grip in a nervous motion before skittering to the other side of the throne. She could hear her brother crying. Emotions tried to crowd in as she fought them down to allow her training to override her brain. If she could get the vial in the next few minutes, she could save him. From behind the throne, the emperor popped out, running straight for her. A shaft of light glinted off a thin piece of metal that the man thrust at her. It hit her stomach and slid off, ripping through the material, several small hand weapons clanked to the floor as she bounced away. Black scales shimmered in the light. “It’s true then,” the emperor yelled at her as he charged once more. She peiried his thrust and her other knife ground at the edge of the blade to catch at the hilt of the sword. “I’m not backing down anymore uncle,” she pushed back. He spun, dropping out of her catch and bringing the blade to the back of her neck. He left his side wide open as she ducked under the blade and swung her knife at his side, slashing his robes. She had failed to score a bodily injury though. He pulled his arm in and side stepped her. The white robe and the black cloak spun and danced across the hall, clangs of metal and slapdash threats from the emperor echoed through the hall.
Symone knew her time was running short, but she had not expected for her uncle to actually have any decent weapons training. “Bloody hell, who are you,” she finally grouched when one of her moves that would have gutted a man barely caught his sleeve. “I, my dear, was your father’s right hand man. I was the originator of the Ravenspies, the first of the assassins. Oh, how that simpleton adored me. He had no idea how to run an empire. He was too kind, too mindless for the job. Really, welfare for the poor? If you don’t work, you don’t eat. Lower taxes? You know how bad that is for the imperial coffers? I have to live too, you know? Bah, the man wanted to make everything gloriously peaceful, but he didn’t see the scope of the thing, the intricate shadows of the underworld that kept this economy alive. He wanted to stop the slave auctions of the Canto and Elivik humanoids. The galactic economy would collapse,” he smirked as he spun to dodge another jab. Symone dropped to swipe a leg under him. He jumped, and she swung up to catch him at the knee, severing the joint, ligaments, and tendons cleanly. The man shrieked in pain, crumpling to the ground. There was a crushing sound. Symone felt her heart drop and her body chill. The emperor flung the chain and broken piece of glass from his hand angrily as he clenched both of his hands over his severed knee, working to staunch the blood flow. “You have done nothing for this empire to improve it for the people’s good, you tyrannical craton. You’ve only served yourself and in your greed, ruined the land, the people’s trust, the structure of society,” she gained her feet, staring down at the squirming man. She knew when she heard the last cry that there was no saving her family. She had lost the vial and the time. Her mind flashed back to a transpoplane cabin, to fire, and the crumpled form of her father trying to survive. With his finally breath he had told her to protect the empire, to protect her people and her family. She had failed miserably on all accounts and no amount of penance would ever right what had taken place. Hot tears stung her cheeks and hot liquid covered her hands. She looked down to find herself bathed in the emperor’s lifeblood, having cut the throat of the man that had ruined her life.
The last doubloon slipped from her pocket, clanking to the tiled floor, rolling to a stop as the blue orb bounced spots of light around the room. Her knees buckled as a wretched cry escaped her and tears flowed freely. Her body trembled when there were no more tears. The group stood motionless at the door, staring at the carnage.
A crash at one of the windows in the court drew the gaze of the group to a mass of glistening, slithering white. It was Arly, the white dragon. “What have you done?” the creature screeched as it surveyed the destruction in the room before clambering its way to the floor. Symone’s eyes trailed to the creature, her emotions dead. With a smoothness and a grace that had not existed within her before she quickly moved toward the dragon that was rushing at her. With a fast motion that the dragon and the group were not expecting, Symone jabbed the knife strait through the chin of the dragon up to the brain and with a hefted motion dragged the blade through the thinner scales of the long neck down to the breastbone of the creature, effectively washing herself in it’s blood. The beast crumpled as it’s eyes rolled back in it’s head. “I have righted the balance,” she said to no one in particular in the silence of the bloodied court.
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