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Empire Zukenov Invades! Part 5 of 6

Written by AUphoric :: [Thursday, 26 May 2022 22:57] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 28 May 2022 10:23]

­Part 5 – Continuation of the naughty space opera in the Aurora Universe!


Winning Announcement

The pictures of the winning contest entries, and the names of the contest winners, were announced in the morning news. The announcement included this quote from her: “Your Empress is pleased with the photographic talents and data measurement skills of her people!”

She left the data selections entirely up to the scientists. There were three data recordings of telemetry measurements from three different types of scientists. The data sets documented her acceleration factors and top speed around the planet and in space, far exceeding any vessel in the Imperial fleet.

For the photos, she didn’t have to replace any of the winners that had been selected for her. They were all quite cute and delightful, she thought.

There was a picture taken from an airship about two miles up over the Palace, looking down at her as she looked up, soaring up and up, and away from the Plaza with one arm stretched out above her head, looking like her powerful fist was pushing aside gravity just for her.

Superheated nitrogen vortexes swirled around just below her. They made the Plaza’s architectural lines look slightly wavy, where the view of them went behind her flawlessly smooth skin and beautifully well defined muscles, hair, and breasts in the view from above.

She liked how pretty that one was, from its charming camera angle.

There was a picture taken from an old fashioned sailing ship among the icebergs. The picture showed the view through the rigging to the other sailing ship, and her flying low over the cold polar ocean, arms behind her, an enormous V-shaped wake of ocean water rising behind her, as she glanced with her eye beams to melt an iceberg.

There was a picture taken with a 63 microsecond exposure by an automated, remotely operating logging company’s camera and weather station. It showed her flying five feet up, arms loose out to her side, as her Mach 8 sonic boom right behind her snapped the trunks of twenty foot thick dead trees. She was slightly blurred in motion, with the air rippling out from around her hands in the shock wave. Meanwhile, the deadwood shattered by the shock wave was captured in its free-fall with perfect clarity.

This was a former forest that had died from an insect infestation. The company was going to break apart the timber and haul it out. Her passage through, her sonic boom shattering so many of the dead trees, actually saved the company three weeks of work by their biggest machines and most muscular men.

Although the picture was taken by automated equipment, the lumberjack who had noticed her flight path, discovered the photo, and sent it in, was credited as the photographer.

There was a picture taken from a desert caravan, showing the row of a hundred camels stretching up the sand hill on one side of the picture. While on the other side of the picture, she stood in the air half a mile up, as her eye beams turned another hilltop pile of sand into a giant abstract sculpture of glass.

There was a picture taken from an Imperial warship in high orbit, looking across at another warship, as she played in the second warship’s main engine exhaust right behind it. The exhaust plasma loops were hot enough to put a crater into an asteroid. She smiled as she played in the plasma loop. The picture showed how she rubbed her breasts with one hand while they got bigger and brighter, and with her other hand, used her fingers down below to help guide the plasma jet inside of her.

She thought they were all very colorful pictures, that captured some of her fun moments with very nice composition.

All the winners were to be brought to the Palace tonight, by a fast military shuttle. Their Empress would great them on the grand Balcony, as a new crowd filled the Plaza. The winners would all have an overnight stay in a Palace guest room. Tomorrow morning, the group would get a privately guided tour of the Plaza’s lesser known features by the Publicity Director himself the next morning, before they were provided a trip home by shuttle.

The runner-ups were also published, a total of ten thousand pictures and five thousand data extracts documenting what the Empress could do.

The Palace announced that the remainder of the more than one million entries would be released over the next few weeks, as quickly as the Archives could do so after making sure no strategic military information was included in any of the photos or data packages.

Hardly any work got done anywhere that day, as people throughout the Empire flipped through one image more amazing than the next. They had to agree that the photography winners were, by far, the most colorfully beautiful, well composed and artistically framed of all the shots, and best showed her amazing power.

Those who were familiar with data science said that the winning sets had the most mathematically elegant equations and expressively optimized algorithms.

The citizens of the Empire all marveled and loved their new Empress all the more! Having her join their Emperor to, quite literally, rule over them, was the best thing of their lives!

Nobody expected to see her until the scheduled evening for appearance for her to reward the winners. Nobody knew what that would involve.

Playing Politics

The morning news also included some of the latest routine political executions for people who had objected to various Imperial policies, or who had proposed democratic reforms. The Military handled all such executions on a weekly basis.

Madame President and the political, historical, and sociological experts on Jus Kadeen had warned Annabeth that it would be emotionally draining for Annabeth to see ongoing tragedies and abuses of power, during the transition schedule they had mapped out. But if she tried to stop everything abusive all at once, changes too drastic would collapse the Empire’s society and trigger even worse, catastrophic riots.

It was hard for her to see these evils done in her name, for people whose only crime was politely asking for a change in government policies. At least, she knew that it would not be long before that was no longer the way things were done.

Then she had an idea.

At noon, the Senior Military Command Staff gathered for their routine daily briefing in the Palace Tower’s Grand Military Conference Center, on the 27th through 32nd floors. The Emperor didn’t need to attend these daily meetings.

At one end of the very large room – only the Throne Room was larger – was the thirty-five person conference table for these meetings. There was plenty of open space for a bigger crowd when needed. To help them feel inspired, at the far end of the room was the forty foot high Statue Symbolizing Victories. This grand work of art had taken artisans from around the Empire nine years to build.

The meeting was just about ready to begin. First item on their agenda would be how to properly invite the Empress to these meetings, if she wished. The Emperor’s Publicity Director was a guest at this meeting, to help them create a protocol they hoped would come across respectfully for this unprecedented invitation.

The door flung open for an unexpected visit from a very beautiful and very angry naked young woman. Her breasts were now large, but not glowing. She soared up above the conference table and hung in place there.

She looked around the assembled military leaders and glared as she shouted, “You people are doing something that belongs to me! If someone needs to be executed for the sake of the Empire, don’t you see that your Empress is competent to kill them all myself!”

She fired her eye beams at the Statue Symbolizing Victories on the far wall. The Statue was famously made of a frame of the Empire’s toughest metals, with the outside carved from a single slab of its hardest stone. Her eye beams sliced the statue in half, across its waist. She continued staring red hot energy, to pulverize the bottom half of the stones to a pile of dust. Then to melt the metal frame into a puddle. Finally, she totally vaporized the top half to nothing.

Her eye beams stopped and she looked around the table again, with her eyes still glowing red hot. The air around her eyes was distorted by the enormous heat. She shouted, “How disrespectful you all are! Why would I want you to take my right and pleasure of execution away from me by doing it yourself, without my authorization?”

She flew over to the remains of the Statue. She hovered above the molten frame, whose heat was starting to eat into the floor, and the pile of rock dust.

She opened her mouth wide and breathed in. The wind pulled up a mix of the flowing metal and the rock dust off the floor. The debris pressed against the front of her body, and some went around her in the air until it hit the wall and bounced down. A ball a few inches across of liquid metal and rock dust went into her mouth and she swallowed it down. A smaller ball accumulated between her legs. She used her fingers to push it inside of her.

She stopped her storm breath and the remaining metal and dust dropped to the floor. She breathed out cold and the metal all turned solid, and then the entire pile was coasted with frost.

Her eyes were still red hot as she flew back over the table. She shouted at them, “Gather the condemned into a humane prison. Keep them healthy for now. Let them fret and worry about what justice means to their Empress. After a year I’ll have explored the Empire enough to figure out what I wish to do with them that might amuse me. That is all for now!”

She then flew out the door. She slammed it behind her hard enough to shatter it into splinters, taking a chunk of the wall with it. She flew down the hall. The elevator shaft was still open, for her return to the Imperial Apartment.

Award Ceremony

That evening, there were the usual camera operators in the Throne Room. Again tonight, an additional camera operator and an Announcement Pole were set up on either side of the Balcony.

There would be excellent picture and sound coverage of whatever surprises the Empress provided tonight, whether that might happen to be inside or outside. The Palace staff did not know what to expect, beyond the initial introduction part of the ceremony.

The palace staff placed a large bed on the Balcony, with the most luxurious of satin sheets and pillows, and a chair and a Pole next to the bed. By the bed was placed an open and empty three foot wide wooden crate, and an open and empty one foot wide wooden crate.

Beside the bed, the staff set out a long padded bench, with heat lamps that would make it a comfortable place to sit even on what promised to be a cool chilly night.

The people weren’t surprised to see a bed set out on the Balcony, at its hint that their Empress might choose to be sexually active as the reward with whoever was the grand prize winner. This had always been the way of the many generations of their rulers.

It was a great privilege to be invited to share intimacy with any member of the Imperial family. It was among the rarest and highest of honors to be offered intimate companionship with the currently ruling Emperor or Empress.

There was no punishment for saying no, but it was hardly ever done.

Occasionally, the ruler even asked the fortunate citizen’s name.

As with his predecessors, the current Emperor had occasionally chosen the most beautiful and strong of young women to be with him for a night, but not nearly as often as was usually done. Although he might have had more liaisons than was known. He never forbade the women to talk of their night with him, but it was behind closed doors, and with no publicity.

None of those women could compare at all the beauty and grace of the new Empress. The Emperor had every right to continue to select women of the Empire to visit him. The people figured that he would probably have no more interest in other women, given the surpassing beauty and power of the Empress.

Palace staff were in the Throne Room, with some standing next to the big arched doorway to the Balcony.

The video feed began, showing the Throne Room.

The Publicity Director formally greeted two staff members the public already knew well, the Gardener and Seamstress.

The Gardener stood before a large table full of many flowers of all different types and colors. The Seamstress stood before a small table with eight silver stranded short ropes. The public looked forward to seeing the Garland Ritual tonight.

The three men and five women the Empress had invited, the best photographers and data analysts documenting her travels yesterday, stood in a row next to the table of flowers.

The eight winners were all dressed in whatever for each of them was the finest of their formal robes, their costliest of sandals, the most elaborate hairstyles for the half of them with long enough hair for braids, and the best of whatever level of jewelry they owned. Some were rich, some middle class, some poor. But all obviously now had on the best of whatever they owned, as one does when invited to the Palace.

One of the winners had a box closed at his feet.

The Throne Room elevator doors opened, but not to the car, to the empty shaft. The Empress floated up and out.

She now had a single long braid for her hair down her back. She wore only a garland of flowers on a silver strand. It had mostly blue flowers that matched her eyes most of the time, and a few red flowers that matched her eyes when they occasionally blasted out all the heat of hell.

She landed and walked through the Throne Room to the Balcony, only looking straight ahead with a neutral expression. She floated up to just above the Balcony railing. Now she smiled broadly and waved down to the crowd of 117,000 that filled the Plaza far below. The crowd gave an enormous long cheer.

She turned around to face the open giant arched doorway to the Throne Room. She floated down to stand on the wide stone Balcony railing, perfectly balanced by just the very tips of her toes.

In the Throne Room, the Publicity Director now introduced each of the contest winners to the watching cameras. He briefly asked them their names and where they were from. The broadcast feed and the big screen outside floors 16 through 28 of the Tower were split three ways. They showed the Empress on the Balcony railing on one side, the winning picture on the other side, and in the middle, the Publicity Director making the introductions in the Throne Room.

Just before each winner walked out from the Throne Room to the Balcony, the Imperial Gardener had a gift for each of them, a garland of personally selected flowers that perfectly brought out the color of their eyes. During the little introductory talk with the Publicity Director, the Gardener selected the best flowers from an enormous assortment on the table in front of him. He handed the selected flowers to the Seamstress, who poked a hole and threaded the flowers onto a silver rope, which she put it around the neck of the winner.

The crowd loved the traditional elegance. They cheered their enthusiasm for each of the winners.

As each of the introduced winners walked out to their Empress at the front edge of the Balcony, she reached down her hands to grasp theirs, then with a smile, gestured for where they could stand in a line in the open area beside the bed.

The winner who had the box at his feet in the Throne Room, now carried it with him under one arm. He continued to carry it while standing in the line. It must not have been very heavy.

Once all the winners had all come outside, the Empress floated down to stand next to the bed.

She gestured to the Seamstress, who now came out carrying a beautiful collection of thin golden necklaces, which she put around the neck of the Empress. The Seamstress bowed and returned inside.

The Empress turned to talk to the first photographer in the line.

The airship photographer stood nervously in front of his naked Empress.

She asked him a little about the circumstances of his picture. He explained that the science airship was on the way to do some weather observations in the Southern Continent. Their repositioning route happened to put them over the Palace at just the right time to observe the wedding from high above. And then this meteorologist used quick thinking to capture the photo of her astonishing rise up into the air and beyond.

She said, “Your photograph captures my delight at flying. Now, take off all your clothes and put them on the chair.”

Confused, the photographer did so. His cock was rock hard.

A staff person quickly trotted over to the chair, set the photographer’s clothes into the big crate, then ran back to stand at the open Grand Doorway again.

The Empress put one arm up above her head, just as she had at the time of the picture. She floated up a little. She used her other arm to guide the photographer inside of her. Then she floated up more, to his astonishment using his member to carry him aloft ten feet above the Balcony.

She pivoted so that he was now in a lying down position, facing up, with her above him, clenching him internally to hold him up.

She gently floated down until he was lying on the bed. She kissed him and said, “Thank you for taking such a lovely picture. You have excellent timing. Flight’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” He had already come inside of her, before she finished her sentence.

She had him sit on the bench, as she then talked with the woman from the sailing ship crew. They talked about the historic sailing traditions and the woman’s photography for a minute or two. The Empress said, “What I find most distinctive about your photograph, is the combination of ice and flame. That can be a very sensual contrast.”

Then the Empress had the woman strip and lie down on the bed, face up. Again, the woman’s removed clothes were set into the big crate.

Another staff person came out to the Balcony with a small box and a pair of tongs she held out to the Empress. Inside the box were ice cubes. The Empress used the tongs to position ice cubes on top of the woman, one on her lips, one on top of each nipple, the last on the labia. Then a very quick and light burst of heat vision turned each of the cubes to steam. The photographer gasped as the cold changed to warmth that reached inside of her. Annabeth loved her for a few minutes, then had her sit on the bench.

The logger was next. The Empress asked him about his logging work. He explained that most days, he worked all day with a laser-assisted chainsaw, a tool that that in seconds could slice apart a twenty foot wide dead tree trunk. It was heavy and difficult to control, requiring three years of apprenticeship before becoming a journeyman logger such as himself. He was now into the eighth year of a career he enjoyed with extremely intense hard physical labor out in beautiful, remote settings.

Staffers brought out a laser-assisted chainsaw. It was so heavy it took three of them to carry it. They handed it to the logger, then politely withdrew as the logger wrapped both hands around the handlebar grip and lifted up the big machine to point in front of him.

The Empress said, “It looks like it takes a very muscular man such as yourself to handle such an immense tool. Show your Empress how you wield this.”

The logger said, “If my Empress will take a step back, as the blade expands slightly when in operation.” She did.

He flipped on the buzzing, vibrating, shaking, difficult to control deadly piece of equipment. He expertly held it in position in front of him, a physical feat only the most elite athletes could match, his big muscles bulging through his tight sleeves and pants legs.

The Empress stepped forward, directly into the chainsaw’s path, too quickly for the logger to react. The blade hit her six-pack abs, and smashed into tiny broken bits that fell to the floor. As she continued to walk forward, the massive chainsaw shattered against her invulnerable body, until the logger held only the handlebars, all that was left, his handgrip squeezing the trigger to activate a driveshaft that now lay splintered at his feet.

With the massive mechanical tool broken, she had him undress and dealt with his own massive organic tool on the bed. Then she had him sit on the bench.

The camel caravan driver and photographer was next. The Empress talked with him a little about his career in the desert, working with the camels to carry cargo in the age-old traditional manner, a way of life as much as a business. She had him put the big box he had brought along on top of the bed, then take off his clothes and lie down.

“What’s in the box?” she asked.

“As I was instructed, my Empress, it’s sand from the desert at my home.”

She floated up about twenty feet over the bed. “Open the lid and toss the box up, so all the sand is thrown up in the air,” she told him.

“My Empress, that will make sand all across the bed here,” he said.

“Don’t worry about that,” she said.

He opened the lid and swung the box, to toss all the sand up.

She breathed in and the sand grains all floated up to just below her, then hung in the air. She flew in a wide circle around the top of the layer of sand, and it gathered into a spinning flat disk. She then hovered in place and blasted her eye beams. The sand fused into a single large crystal of glass, about a foot across, with facets that caught the light and made sparkling rainbows.

A staff person walked over beside the bed with a towel, and stuffed it into the bottom and sides of the small crate.

The Empress tucked the crystal under her arm and floated down to the bed. She put the crystal into the box, then set the box on the balcony beside the bed. “A little memento for you, to display in your home,” she told the camel driver. The staff person then bowed, picked up the crate, and returned to carry it inside the doorway.

Without a single grain of sand interfering with the touch of skin and satin, the Empress used her body to appreciate the camel driver. He had quite a bit more to offer her than just the proverbial nose in the tent.

She had him join the group on the bench as she now turned to the assistant warship engineer, who had taken the picture of the Empress in the deadly plasma loop.

The engineer answered the Empress’s questions about her work as a warship primary engine maintainer, and about the plasma loops from primary engines that were only safe to use when very far from any planets, or any asteroids with a mining crew. This work is why the maintenance engineer was using her camera to document the operation of the adjacent warship, when to her surprise her Empress flew into the plasma loops.

The Empress then had the maintenance engineer strip and lie beside her on the bed, again with the staffer putting the clothes in the big crate. The Empress said, “Now it’s time for you to reach into me, just like I enjoying having your plasma loop go into me.”

The Empress slid her hand underneath the Engineer’s back, and lightly tossed her up into the air over the bed, with a twist so the astonished Engineer now faced down to the Empress on the bed below. The Empress gently blew and sustained her super breath to hold the Engineer in position in the air. The Empress slightly reduced her breath, to position the Engineer in the air a couple of feet up over the bed, and then continued to impossibly blow nonstop to hold her there.

The Empress took the Engineer’s hands in her own and guided the Engineer’s skillful long fingers inside the Emperor’s open wetness. After a few minutes with a couple of orgasms for the Empress, she gently ended her super-breath, letting the Engineer down softly to the bed to get loved well by the Empress in return. The Empress then had the engineer join the group sitting on the bench.

The three data scientists, one man and two women, were still in line on the Balcony. Where the split screen had shown each of the winning photos in turn, now an algebraic visualization presented the parameters for the three data sets.

The Empress stood next to them and asked them questions as a group about their careers doing acceleration and velocity research. One studied planetary weather from another science airship. The second examined solar flares from an observatory on the Moon. The third observed asteroids from a space station just past the Moon’s orbit. The fastest military shuttle, traveling all day, had just barely got the space based researchers to the Palace in time for this evening’s events.

The scientists all said that before yesterday, the fastest physical phenomenon they had ever documented in the solar system was the Glorious Hostilities at its maximum speed of 0.72 C, as it crossed the vast interplanetary distance to the wormhole and as she brought it back.

Shaking with wonder, they answered her question that they had nothing to compare to her being a solid body who reached just below lightspeed, at accelerations and sharp turns that would have smashed apart the bones of any ordinary person, and all without any apparent means of propulsion.

She instructed them to take turns at the chair to take off their clothes, neatly fold them, and put them in the crate themselves. She then had the three of them lie down side by side on the bed, holding each others’ hands.

The video director switched to a single view just of her. Although she was not in a position where she could see any screens, the Empress looked right into one of the cameras as she said, “Put that split view of the equations back on. I want my people to appreciate high quality science.”

She then talked to the three scientists. “Since you are all good with speed, here’s a little more speed for you,” she said. Moving so fast she became a blur, she moved back and forth between them so quickly that for each of them, it felt like there was a continuously present lover.

After they each came, with what seemed to them to be a flickering but constantly present lover above them, she then stood at the end of the bed. She beckoned for the Seamstress to come out. The Empress took off her necklaces and flower garland, handed them the Seamstress, and gestured for the Seamstress to go back in.

The now completely naked Empress wrapped her arms around the three scientists. She gently floated up and over the railing, and flew to carry them over to the waterfall tower. She set them down at the 59th floor pool area, where there was a small pile of loofah sponges on a bench by the pool. A brief burst of her eye beams made the water warm enough for steam to come off the surface. She had them climb in, to scrub one another so they all got clean.

She went back to retrieve the remaining winners from the bench, two at a time. Once they were all splashing in the pool, she flew halfway back to the Balcony. She used her super breath to make a precisely targeted storm headed towards her, that brought to her the crate with the clothes. She stopped her super breath and used two fingers to pluck the heavy crate out of the air, and effortlessly hold it by its rim. She flew over to the pool deck and set the crate down.

She had the now very clean winners climb out of the pool. With a brief low intensity burst of her eye beams, she made the winners dry and warm before they got dressed.

She again took them up two at a time, to now set them down gently on the Plaza with a last lingering kiss, before she flew back up for the next pair. Once the winners all stood on the Plaza, the Publicity Director led them back inside to the Tower’s guest suites.

When she was done setting down the last of them and returned to the Balcony alone, the Emperor walked out to the Balcony, in another brand new set of Royal Robes and boots equally resplendent to yesterday’s. She smiled at him, then talked to the crowd below. “People of the Empire, your Empress will now enjoy a quiet evening at home with your Emperor.”

She kissed him hard, scooped him up, and flew inside, carrying him in her arms. Their people cheered in the Plaza as she took him into the open elevator shaft and dropped down.

She carried him into the Apartment and set him down in their living room.

As the door to the elevator shaft closed behind them, the Emperor said, “Empress, I want to ask how you would feel about something that has come to my mind. What if the picture of you as seen from the airship above you, was made into a mural to be painted on the Palace Tower? I mean, scaled for the entire height of the building.”

She said, “That’s a nice thought. But put it on the side of the waterfall building, since it doesn’t have any windows or decorations on the sides. Also, it will be pleasant to be able to see it from here. Position the picture to end at the waterfall pipes, so it looks like my hand above me is reaching right up through the waterfall.”

The mural crews tied down their their rappelling ropes by the stone bench next to the waterfall pool. With their color coded paint cans in one hand, the battery pack and air compressor units turned on and strapped into their backpacks, and their compressed air brush nozzles in their other hand, they belayed off the top of the waterfall tower that very night. People at the Plaza stared up, admiring as such an appropriate tribute took shape, to showcase their Empress in this respectful way above her Plaza.

*****

Although her time to socialize with the citizens and discuss their endeavors for a few minutes was new, her having sex with her selection of citizens was not. She certainly got a lot busier and a lot quicker than the Emperor ever had.

The current Emperor had always had his choice of women for a night now and then, before the Empress arrived. He would also have been welcome to have taken other lovers while married, with the people being happy for him, but they weren’t surprised that he had no need for anyone but her. Who could compare?

The people soon saw their always naked, always beautiful Empress settle into a daily routine of exploring her Empire. She spent most of her days either flying around the Palace Planet, or out visiting one of the other inhabited planets for a day. Sometimes she went to greet some asteroid miners at their austere work site.

At just under lightspeed, staying below 1.0 C so her travels could be observed, her travel time to the Moon was a few minutes, and between the inhabitable inner planets was under half an hour. The asteroid mines were another hour out at lightspeed.

She never provided any hint about where she’d visit next.

In the evening, she and her husband stayed in at the Palace’s Imperial Apartment.

Half of her exploration flights were time by herself. For the other half, she either landed, or hovered a few feet up, for conversations with a random assortment of ordinary citizens. She asked them to guide her to what were the best local places to visit. To introduce her to what they liked to eat. To show her where they lived, worked, and played. To tell her what was on their minds about the progress of the Empire and their local communities.

If they asked for help or about new policies, she said she was taking the first few months to learn how things were going now, before changing anything. They had to admit that made sense, in an Empire that was so large and complicated.

If they had a difficult personal issue, she talked with them about what would be the largest scale version of that issue affecting the most people. She then dealt with that larger issue.

For example, one family had a problem with the water supply in their house. They could not afford filters that would keep their children’s rare infection from getting worse from the polluted local water supply.

The Empress investigated the root cause of the water pollution. The city’s water came from a constructed lake, over ground that had settled unevenly. This exposed an underground bubble of toxic hydrocarbons that leaked through the cracked pavement, which should have fully sealed the bottom of the lake.

She gave one week’s notice of her plan. She flew to the edge of town. Then she walked from the town ton the road o the adjacent hillside, and kept on walking another mile with her bare feet making light splashes as she strode across the top of the mile-deep reservoir lake. She stopped just before she reached the obsolete dam, which should never have been built there in the first place.

She gracefully stood with one foot on the water. She lifted up her other foot, and stomped it down hard against the surface of the water. The shock wave through the water shattered the dam, releasing the pent up stagnant water supply so that the river could flow clean and clear again.

As the water drained out below her, she flew up and ahead. She breathed in to lift all the floodwaters up out of the channel, before it reached the downstream communities. Her eye beams turned the floating wall of bad water below her into steam that all dispersed into the air. Two hundred thousand people now had no need to rebuild the water systems in their homes to have consistently clean, healthy water.

After the first few weeks, wherever she showed up, many people waved in hopes of talking with her. She did talk with many of the people who’d selected themselves, while she also continued to select additional people at random for a short visit with their Empress.

Occasionally, generally a few times a week, she wore a decorative fabric belt around her waist. She had commissioned it to be woven of the same materials as space suits and military shields to be sturdy for her flights. The belt had a small pouch on the side. In it she had a thick gold necklace, wrapped into a small loop.

On the days she wore the belt, she had a question for some of her citizens, a mix of men and women, sometimes while she was at their home, sometimes when they were out in public.

She made clear that it was entirely okay to say no, then she asked if they were interested in having sex with her right now. Much more than half of those she asked were very interested and had the time free to enjoy their Empress.

She took off the belt and put on the necklace, and they enjoyed each other in the most memorable love-making the citizens had ever experienced, as a fragrance of honey and wildflowers seemed to envelop them. If there were other people around, they also noticed the delicious smell, and felt intensely amorous for one another right away. Then she wrapped her necklace back up again, put the decorative belt back on, and soared away.

Through all of this, she continued to never wear any other clothes or jewelry. Nor did she ever bring anything else with her.

Three months after the Imperial Wedding, the Empire’s first ever referendum led to their joining the Enlightenment. Having never had an opportunity to vote before, the people weren’t quite sure what this was about. It seemed to merely further acknowledge the political union established with the Imperial Wedding, so they were happy to confirm that they approved of it.

Meanwhile in orbit, repairs the Glorious Hostilities were complete, other than what she had in mind for the damaged primary weapon. Training was underway for a new crew to get on board the fully rebuilt flagship in another month and a half. Evril Fahenti supervised the training, with his extensive mastery of the ship’s operations on a deck by deck basis.

The Empress now gave the people their second vote ever, to decide on the new Constitution, which made the Imperial Family into figureheads only, and to elect their first ever Parliament. Supplicants had previously come to visit the Emperor, humbly and respectfully, as he held court in the Throne Room one day a week, a tradition the Empress had not continued. Now, these citizens would bring their political concerns to this new group of people.

This was a really weird change, but since it seemed their Empress merely wanted to have other people deal with politics so that she didn’t have to, they accepted that too.

The Parliamentary Chamber was quickly built by dividing the Grand Military Conference Center in half. Once the statue’s rubble was cleared, a partition wall went up. In the new room, the half-circle seating was built for the Delegates, and the raised platform for the Speakers.

Parliament’s first law was to provide amnesty for all political prisoners, to be released within the next eight months, once arrangements could be made. Along with that, the law granted complete free speech rights for anyone to express even negative opinions about the government.

The second law was to invite a Scalantran delegation, based on what their Empress had briefly mentioned to her people about these galactic traders. They weren’t sure where to send the invitation, though.

Given the logistics of having a new Parliament meet at all, passing these first two laws took all of the first day.

The people locked away for their death sentences for treason against the Empire, were astonished to see that almost everything they’d worked for all their lives was now coming about as political reforms voluntarily made by the new Empress.

The Empress’s request to address Parliament, at the opening of its second day in session, was accepted.

Some members of Parliament were afraid she’d kill them all, given her outburst when she was last in this room for the Senior Military Command Staff meeting. But today, she spoke in a polite, although stern, manner as she floated, naked as always, above the middle of the room.

She said, “Madame Speaker, I have come today to remark on Parliament’s first two laws. This is likely the only time I will remark on any of your laws, as the whole point of the new Constitution is to free up my time for things that interest me more than politics.

“First, you people seem to want to redefine treason and sedition in your own way, who knows why. Certainty that criticizing the Emperor’s policies would lead to death, has provided great stability to your society for a long time now. Not something to be given up lightly.

“If you people insist on poking your fingers in this pie, I’ll let you, but you have to accept the consequences! If you persist on this free speech kick, and then society gets destabilized, it will be up to you to pick up the pieces! Don’t call on me to fix problems of your creation!

“Therefore, I would release today to Parliament the now 17,901 prisoners who are awaiting my upcoming execution plan, which I remind you will not occur until many months from now. You can give them your weird amnesty thing if that entertains you.

“But I will only do this if Parliament is willing to take unconditional, total responsibility for the safety and stability of society, once these kinds of complaining people are running around in the open.

“I’ll need your commitment to not ever ask me to intervene in rules that were chosen for yourselves by you, by not by me! You’ll need to vote to clarify all that! Any destructive social changes from free speech are your own heads, not on mine! Don’t waste my time asking me to clean up riots or whatever that might come from your loosening the shackles that have successfully constrained your society for so many years of your history!”

The Speaker, looking up at her as all of them were, said, “Empress, shall we vote on that question now? Or do you want us to wait until you are done addressing us about all issues on your mind?”

The Empress said, “Let’s handle one issue at a time. Go ahead with your vote.”

The Speaker looked around the room as she said, “We will take an initial vote, and if the sense of the meeting is not clear, we will then debate the matter before the second vote. Question: Shall Parliament accept social responsibility as described by the Empress, for the consequences of free speech and abolition of the political petition death penalty, and upon her releasing the prisoners into our care, provide them full amnesty?” She looked up. “Empress, does that accurately reflect the decision you are asking us to make?”

Annabeth said, “Yes, that’s a very proficient summary. Well stated. I see why they picked you to be Speaker.”

The Speaker looked around the room. “All in favor?”

Everyone immediately stood up.

The Speaker looked around the room as she said, “Passed unanimously. You may be seated.” She looked up. “Empress?”

The Empress sighed as she said, “I order the prisoners released effective immediately. Further death penalty cases for matters such as treason or sedition will now go to Parliament rather than taking up any more of the time and attention of your Emperor, Empress, and military tribunals. You want to make your own bed, you get to wake up with your own societal results. I wash my hands of the whole mess. It’s your problem now.”

Annabeth seemed to cheer up with her next topic. “Now, as to your second law. The Empire is full of marvels that would be appreciated throughout the galaxy, and in my opinion, trade is an excellent idea. I think your second law is well chosen. But anyway, that is a political matter for Parliament to decide, and I don’t have as much patience for politics as you do. Carry on.”

She gently landed and walked out the door, this time closing it quite politely behind her.

In her personal suite in the Imperial Apartment, she walked into her personal office and spun the lock to open her safe, which she had constructed to also include a furnace inside hot enough to kill any ordinary human.

She reached in through the flames and picked up the one item inside, a very sturdy handheld electronics package, which Lars had handed to her and she had then brought with her on the shuttle trip to the Palace with Evril Fahenti. She closed the safe, then blew a blast of cold air to cool down the room again.

Come to think of it, the now empty safe wasn’t needed any more. She opened it back up, disabled the furnace entirely, and left the safe door open. With one hand, she ripped the door off the safe and set the door down on her desk.

With the package in her hand, she flew up to the Throne Room. It was currently empty, as the Emperor this morning was providing swordsmanship instruction to elite troops out in the forest.

She held the equipment to her breast and put her other hand on top. It wasn’t obvious that she was carrying anything. She continued on out over the Balcony, up into the sky, and on to the Moon.

The Moon was mostly bare rock. A few areas had completely automated mining equipment. There were no scientists currently at the Moon’s science station, on the side facing the planet. She flew around to the far side of the Moon, far away from any mining systems or science cameras. She used her eye beams to drill a hole deeper than any Imperial technology could access. She dropped the electronics package down in the hole, then threw rocks in to close up the hole.

She flew to the Sun and visited its corona. She swam in the solar fires for a few minutes, until her breasts were quite large and bright.

Then she flew back to sit on the Moon for a couple of hours, on the side facing the planet. She leaned back against a rock at the edge of a crater. She closed her eyes and put one hand between her legs and the other lightly rubbing her breasts, as she decided to to think about things for a couple of hours.

She didn’t know that over five thousand astronomers on the moonlit side of the planet were extremely fascinated by the view through their telescopes this day, and by the series of small explosions that made the crater a little deeper, in the shape of a young woman. Not that she’d have minded if she had known.

Madame President had insisted, and Annabeth eventually agreed, before she and Evril initially left to meet the Emperor: there would be no transits back and forth across the Wormhole, until there was a free government on the Empire’s side. And no messages sent at all, until there was an invitation from a free government to the Scalantrans.

Unless there was an ultimate worst case catastrophe, she was on her own to get things sorted out in the Empire.

She now returned to the dark side of the Moon. She used her eye beams again to blast open a path to her hiding place. She flew down to retrieve the electronics package, and then flew to the Wormhole. She was tired enough of all this to briefly speed up to 1.02 C, winking out of visual tracking into the edge of subspace for a moment, knowing that didn’t matter for this trip.

Once she emerged next to the Wormhole, she hovered in place in front of it and tapped at the electronics to enter a brief written message about the new Constitution and Parliament, and about Parliament’s second political action to invite trade talks. She authenticated the message to sign and encrypt it.

She closed the case again, then threw the Scalantran long-range news beacon into the Wormhole at a third of the speed of light, and watched it pop through.

Then she flew back to the Palace at 0.94 C, to ensure nonstop photo coverage.

When she got back into the Imperial Apartment, she told her husband, who was now going over some military paperwork by himself at the dining table, that she wished to be alone for a little while.

This was not unusual. Other than sex a few times a day, when he didn’t have a military training or workout day, and when she wasn’t out exploring the Empire, there wasn’t much time that she and the Emperor were interested in being in the same room.

He had learned that she always wanted to be wearing gold when having sex. Not a problem. He had seen some much stranger kinks than that in his time. If she was wearing her gold necklaces, he knew that she was in the mood. He tossed aside his Royal Robes and accommodated her desires.

Fortunately for her, he was the strongest ordinary man she had ever met. She estimated his strength at about ten times average. One day she mentioned this to him. He said that from training, he was about five times stronger than average, and then the performance enhancing drugs about doubled that again. But once she arrived, he had tapered off the drugs and now didn’t use them at all. Something about making love with her seemed to provide him the same boost of energy.

Usually, they just had sex standing up in whatever room of the Apartment they happened to be in. One of them held up the other one, just in place, or against a wall, as they pounded away. They took turns being the one standing or the one held up. There were cracks in the heavy stone walls in most of the Imperial Apartment’s rooms now. Occasionally, she had a brief visit to his bed, never staying all night.

Neither of them had ever expressed any interest in him visiting her bed or private rooms, which had been his parents’ suite when he was growing up in the Palace.

She now walked into her suite, locked the door, and went to her innermost room, where she had the inner sanctum of her bedroom. After all, she didn’t need windows to take a look outside.

She sobbed with relief at having saved eighteen thousand innocent lives today, and about it being not that much longer before she could get to leave this Palace Planet - for her, a prison planet - behind her.

A Meaningful Book

After a while she felt a little better, and remembered that she’d only ever briefly glanced at one page from the middle of Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine, and that only enough to use tachyon vision to spot some keywords she could use to show off. The title sounded like it might be a change of pace from her current worries.

She went to get the book out of her personal desk, where she’d ignored it all this time. She took it back with her to her bed to read in the normal way, as she positioned the pillows and propped up against the headboard.

She was astonished. It was the most beautiful, romantic love story she’d ever encountered. It had the most profound insights about human nature and the meaning of life and love.

Every few pages in the story there was a crushing loss that would have made most people end their lives in despair. Every few pages in the story there was a triumph that would have had most people say their lives had reached perfection, and yet these people kept on striving, only to tragically lose it all again by one totally unpredictable cruel twist of fate after another.

She had to read most pages more than once, to fully appreciate the lovely poetic turns of phrase that described ultimate passions amid the stark beauty of the desert. The descriptions of how the lovers knew one another’s bodies under the full moonlight made her very, very wet.

She let go of the book and used her breath to hold it in place in the air in front of her and occasionally turn the page, so that she had both hands free. This let her follow along with the Poet’s description of how the Lovers had traced the path of the moonlight over their personal hills among the sand, their mountaintops of sacred delight to share. Where the clusters of grapes on the firm outermost layers revealed the hidden rivers beneath the surface of their private Oasis.

When the chime invited her to supper with her Emperor, she was only on page 46 of the book, and her body and the bed were both thoroughly soaked.

It was time for dinner. She set the book down. She flew over to the shower, quickly cleaned up, then flew out of her suite to see what unusual, exotic delicacy the Emperor would introduce her to tonight. As always, the food was brought in by the Imperial Butler, who then apologetically bowed and left them alone.

She floated down into her chair, across the oversize table from the Emperor. As usual, they only said a little bit to each other between bites.

As each day brought a new and different, excessively elaborate dish of his choice, he pointed out the combinations.

Tonight, the Emperor said, “Put a little of the fish on a fork and dip it in that yellow sauce. It’s very spicy. It was made by the ancient explorers of the Southern Continent to help them feel warm in its long snowy winters.”

She did so. She said, “That is nice and spicy. My ancestors were explorers with sailing ships in cold oceans. This is similar to some traditional foods for my people, that go back to those centuries long ago. The fish were put into a pickled brine solution that was buried in the snow for the winter.”

He said, “I’m sorry I didn’t think of this before today. With your ability to eat metal and rocks, unlike my people, should I have the Chef include some for your meals? I hate to think you might not have asked, out of supposing we couldn’t accommodate your favorite tastes. Would you like to eat the silverware with each meal? I could have a blacksmith join the kitchen staff.”

She titled her head, as she thought with interest about what he was saying, and as she looked through the table and his Robes to his lap. She couldn’t help smiling, as she saw that a certain part of him, sailing northward from his own mid-latitudes archipelago, was also quite interested in what he was saying.

Unaware of her examining the evidence, he continued, “I could partition the kitchen and include a geology lab, to include rock meals. Perhaps you have recipes from your people for lava-based sauces. Or if you would like Chef to invent some for you, with our local herbs. He could flavor your rocks to match any of our cuisines you might like. We could add a solar studies oven in the kitchen to melt them. Or replace this table with one made of a composite asbestos and neutronium blend, if you wish to use your eyes with your meals. I don’t want you to get incomplete nutrition. Or to have to miss out on anything you would enjoy.”

She smiled and sighed, with a feeling of contentment. That only made him even more rock-hard underneath his place setting.

She said, “That’s so sweet of you to ask, my Emperor. You were quite considerate to think about all of that. It won’t be needed. My snacks after our wedding were only for purpose of demonstration. Actually, the gun and the rock both tasted terrible. Especially the antimatter contaminated radiation flakes from the GAR barrel. I won’t be interested in eating one of those again! The alloy of the Statue was a nice blend, but that’s a one of a kind thing, isn’t it. And they’ll need it for the replacement statue. I could eat this fork if I wanted, you’re right about that.” She took a bite from the handle end, then ran her fingers along the tines as she swallowed the metal. “But I’ll continue to use it as designed, for your fish and spicy sauce. And all the other foods already invented in our Empire.”

“Very well, my Empress,” he said. It was plain that some parts of him remembered what it is like for her to run her fingertips along more than just the tines of his fork. Uh, her fork. She was saying something.

“Emperor, I actually don’t need to eat at all. It’s a purely social experience for me. I like the way that I get to learn a little more about my Empire through your meal choices.”

“Oh, okay. That explains why one meal time has always been as acceptable as any other to you. The last few years of my parents’ lives, my father took me all around the Empire as he trained me in what an Emperor needs to know. He always insisted that we eat the local food, rather than importing something from the Palace. I have continued that tradition in my own travels. My father would have very much liked the way that you go to visit among your people, to eat with them and fuck the willing. How boring it would be to repeat a meal. But it’s not boring to fuck you again, of course.”

She could see that he really meant it. She said, “That’s a different way to think about it. About food, I mean. Now, something else cultural from your Empire. Actually, what I was studying just before our dinner time. Have you ever read Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine?”

To her surprise, the change of topic to literature made him even stiffer under his robes. Much more of this, and the table top would hardly need its sturdy corner posts to hold it up.

He said, “Yes, most people of the Empire have read it many times and know it well. As you’ve already figured out, it’s probably the single most famous work of literature here ever since it was written. You can’t go a week in conversation in the Empire without someone quoting one of its lines, or referring to its events.

“I still don’t understand how you did it, that your demonstration of your abilities included your using a seemingly random process to guide the selection of our best known and most widely loved book. There could have been no better choice to show your appreciative understanding of Imperial culture and arts. And you even mentioned the water jug conversation, on its first page just before that discussion turns to the principles of hospitality to visitors from afar. Such as yourself.”

She didn’t reveal her surprise, or admit that this was only a random break of good luck she only learned about in this conversation. In her initial show-off time after the wedding, she had not read the full page and no idea what the scene was about. She had only glanced inside the book enough to demonstrate tachyon vision. She still had not got to the water jug scene in her reading now. Some mysteries are worth keeping mysterious, she figured.

She said, “How much of that story actually happened, if any of it?”

“Every word of it is literally true history, my Empress. The Poet did many interviews with each of them. Before he published, he asked them all to confirm that all he said was accurate, without exaggeration. The great-grandchildren of the Lovers now run their own colony on Planet Five. Many like-minded people have moved there to withdraw from ordinary society and live by the Credo.”

“Emperor, I thought Planet Five was only for exiles. That’s why I’ve never been there.”

“I apologize for the misunderstanding, my Empress. It is only for those who have chosen the commitment of that colony with its single purpose, outside of the rest of society. You could certainly visit if you wished, with no scandal.

“The Oasis still exists, in the middle of the Eastern Continent of this planet. It’s a protected area, with nobody allowed to live or even land or fly over it within a thousand miles, in order to honor the memory of the Lovers. Not that such rules apply to you, of course. My father made that rule just before I became Emperor. He had good reason to do so.

“The vineyards became unproductive about eighty years after the time of the story. There was a change in the acidity of the soil, from the expansion of the volcanic caldera under the continental plate there. No risk of any volcanic activity, but it altered what can be grown there.

“The winery became unprofitable. It was replaced with a date tree nursery, which is still there. The only time any people are present now is when a delegation of the Credo-followers are allowed to go in to harvest the dates once a year, on the summer solstice. Getting selected for this visit is the highest honor on Planet Five. Selling the bottled dates, with the very special sweet sauce recipe from page 139, at the annual auction is the main source of income for Planet Five. The dates bring very high prices from people who love the story. Do you remember the harvest scene from the book?”

“No, I’m only part way through understanding it. The writing takes a long time to follow the thread of the story, to fully grasp the nuances.”

“That’s true. I imagine it would be even more challenging having not grown up with it. There are scholars who spend their whole career on the deeper meaning of just one chapter.”

“Nothing about harvest or solstice in what I’ve figured out so far, my Emperor. I understand the story up to their discovering how to make the colored glass.”

“Ah, page 46,” he said. “Eleven pages after the very greatest love scene in the entire history of the Empire. When I was a young man, I naively thought that perhaps one day I too would experience such a love as had occurred in the Oasis, that night of the full moon. I felt such an experience would make my life complete. But then I learned that such experiences do not happen, other than to one group of individuals who all lived and died long ago. When I became Emperor, I learned that they are definitely not available for one with my duties.”

“Have you ever visited the Oasis, Emperor?”

“No. Every Emperor has the right to do so. But since becoming Emperor, continuing up until you showed up, I had no interest in anything having to do with lovers. I mean, as opposed to just women I occasionally selected to use, and then immediately forgot about after the one night.”

“And how about the dates with their sauce? Have you had them?”

“On Planet Five they have a preserving process that makes the dates last for a century in the glass jars. In the Villa, I have a bottle left to me by my parents. I will eat the dates when I completely retire from public life.”

“Oh, that’s interesting,” she remarked. They continued to eat in silence, after the longest conversation they had ever had. Under the table, he gradually subsided until the Royal Robes settled smoothly across his lap.

With her permission, he had continued to handle most of his administration for now as she learned about the different departments.

As they waited for dessert, he said, “I decided to wait for you to tell me how things went at Parliament, rather than seeing the news people interpret with their own spin as they like to do so much. I’m amazed how much Parliament lets them get away with that, but it’s their headache now.

“I have been very busy with my work today, deep in budgeting issues. I have not bothered with any news reports since you left this morning. Nobody thought anything happened worth interrupting me. What was your day like with the politicians?”

They stopped talking for a moment as their dessert, an herbal pudding, was set before each them. The pudding was in small, thin walled, elaborately carved metal bowls.

The Butler started to withdraw again. The Emperor said, “Wait a moment, Butler. I would like you to tell your Empress about these bowls.”

The Butler said, “My Empress, these bowls are examples of one of the rarest metal alloys in all the Empire. It is a four element blend of titanium, neutronium, silver, and magnesium. It was invented to provide a strong but very lightweight personal lock box for the captains of sailing vessels, back in the age of sea power exploration. That is why Chef chose it to complete your winterfish dinner tonight. It is traditional now to decorate this special kind of bowl with carvings that depict the sailing life, as you see.”

She tipped up her bowl slightly for a better look at the engraved illustration of a sailing ship that wrapped around both the outside of the bowl exposed to the air, and the inside underneath the pudding. She set it back down and said, “That’s an interesting artistic tradition. And I definitely haven’t seen this kind of alloy before.”

The Emperor said, “Thank you, Butler, you may now withdraw.” After the Butler left, the Emperor said, “Sorry to distract you with that, before you got to tell me all about your time with the politicians.”

“Oh, that’s fine. I was only there a short time today, Emperor. I find politics boring, so they know I’m leaving it all up to them. Probably won’t be any reason for me to go back.”

“Very well, Empress. I might wind up with that same opinion myself. At first I was annoyed that Parliament seems to want to take over military budgets. But today I’m realizing, I’ll actually be glad to be rid of all that financial planning crap. Let them sort out their own damn budgets, if they like.”

There was another long silence as they ate their dessert pudding. As they finished, he gestured at his bowl.

He said, “About two hundred years ago, there was a fad among the wealthiest and most decadent members of the population to take a very small amount of this alloy, grind it up into very small particles, and sprinkle it on top of their meal, to eat as an ostentatious show of wealth even though it was nutritionally counterproductive.

“My people cannot digest metal, so it provided an uncomfortable time at the bathroom the next day. But it was said to be worth it for such elites. The metal powder itself was always said to be extremely delicious. I never tried it myself, as I have no need to prove my wealth to anyone, and I saw no point in depleting the stocks of a rare alloy or eating something indigestible. Perhaps you might like to try the bowl.”

She said, “Is there any gold in it?”

“No, my Empress. Just the four elements. Would you like me to get some gold brought to the table too?”

“No, gold is for me to wear when I feel like love, not to eat. The four elements should be fine.” She took a bite of her metal bowl. Her face lit up with a big smile of delighted joy.

“Wow, this is really, really great! I can’t believe how tasty it is!” she said excitedly. She wolfed down the entire bowl in just a few big bites.

He said, “Would you like mine too?” as he pushed it part of the way towards her on the table.

She said, “Oh yes!” She put her lips together. A breeze formed and pulled his empty bowl into the air, to hover over the table in front of her. “I think it might be even tastier warmed up a bit,” she said, with her lips still making the breeze that also rustled his Royal Robes so they flapped partly open.

A brief flash of her eye beams made the metal bowl start to melt. She stopped her breeze, picked up the bowl with her hand, and ate it, or rather drank it. She licked the last of the molten drops off her hand, then smacked her lips with an even bigger contented sigh.

He said, “I had no idea you could talk and make a breeze at the same time. That’s amazing. I’ve been thinking about your many abilities that exceed myself and all of my people. I should learn more about exactly what you can do, and how you can do it.”

“Yes, you should. That’s very appropriate for you to be thinking about. The how is simple. My abilities are genetic gifts, that come from a long line of people who can do these things. Mating with other people with the same abilities increases the strength of these abilities in later generations. I’m one of very few resulting at the pinnacle of this evolutionary process, more than fifty generations now. But I also worked very hard over a long time to train and develop my skills.”

“With Parliament taking over more of the boring military budgets from me, my Empress, I will have more time available. Perhaps some of that time could be with you, to learn more about your gifts and the ways you can use them.”

“Well, my Emperor, with Parliament taking over more of the boring politics from me, I will also have more time. I would also like for some of our extra time to include more specific demonstrations for you about exactly what I can do.”

They finished their meal in silence, then each went to their own rooms. She pondered how this was the most discussion they’d ever had, and the most interest he’d ever expressed in her experiences. She wondered why it had taken them so long to get to this point. She started to think of what exactly she would like to demonstrate to him soon.

CONCLUDES IN PART 6!

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