Written by AUphoric :: [Thursday, 09 June 2022 02:05] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 11 June 2022 13:21]
After the unusually conversational dinner with her husband, Annabeth glanced through the walls and ceilings and noticed that it was a night with a Full Moon. She got out the book again, but was too distracted for the intense concentration it took to follow the poetically worded story.
After a little while, she walked to the dining room again and rang for the Imperial Butler. He arrived promptly, as always. She said, “Butler, I order that a fresh bed should be put in place in my bedroom, while my Emperor and I have a little private time outside the Palace without any announcements. You need not worry about my safe being open and empty, that is my doing. Remove the safe, too.”
The Butler bowed low as he said, “I serve my Empress as she directs, tonight by replacing her bed and not worrying about her safe which I will remove for her.”
She smiled as he left to go about his work. She liked the way he was always so polite at confirming her orders. Also, not that she minded the attention, he was one of the few men in the Empire who consistently looked at her eyes when he talked to her, rather than mostly looking down at her other assets.
The Emperor had no idea what to expect when she knocked on his bedroom door, and said “Come with me.”
When the two of them were alone in the front parlor, she said to the Emperor, “Take this along and once we land, put it around my neck,” as she handed him a gold necklace. She closed the door to her abundant collection, in the closet by the front door to their private elevator lobby. After all, she didn’t need any coats or shoes! He slipped the necklace into the inner pocket of his robes, as he always did when she told him to take a necklace along.
She put her arms around the Emperor’s front and back, with her front hand sliding inside his Robes to his broad chest. She floated up, carrying him. Instead of opening the elevator shaft to go down to the Plaza, she went to the utility service corridor of the 128th floor Imperial Apartment, and flew out the large back window.
She took him halfway around the world to a place she’d never been before, nor had he. She took them to the desert Oasis of the book.
She didn’t say a word, and he didn’t either. She gently landed at the Oasis, and removed the Royal Robes and his boots. She felt the gold encircling her shoulders, resting on top of her breasts, as she re-enacted the love scene from page 35.
On that page was the ultimate description of the love of a man and a woman. His body responded just as was described in the book. So did hers.
She felt fully loved for the first time since she’d left Chan’g on the other side of the wormhole.
She was surprised that the Emperor had warm and salty tears.
She handed the necklace back to him. She floated up a little, holding his up Robes for him to to put them on. She brought him back to the Apartment shortly after midnight.
The Butler had left a note. He had completed her request before going to his own home. Of course, the Butler’s home was a much smaller apartment on a lower floor here in the Tower. He could be back quickly if they needed anything else overnight.
For the first time, she now invited the Emperor to her bed.
The Emperor accepted her invitation.
She discovered that, having to deal with the damage she’d done to the old bed, the Butler’s staff had also replaced the room’s carpeting, drapes, and towels. They had also added a lot of flowers with fairly strong smells, in a nice way.
As he came into her bedroom, he pulled out the necklace and set it on a nightstand. He sat down on the armchair and took off his boots, then stood up and walked to the foot of the bed, facing her as she climbed in by the pillows.
She talked for the first time since they had left the Apartment several hours earlier. “Are these particular Royal Robes among your favorites?” she asked.
He said, “What, these old things? No, I don’t care about them.” He pulled them off and tossed them over to the chair.
She used her eye beams to vaporize the robes in the air.
She put the necklace back on. She never explained to him, or anyone in the Empire, how being encircled with gold dampened her pituitary function. How this blockage in the flow of hormones temporarily brought to a very minimal, almost disabled, level almost all her superhuman powers. All but the invulnerability, and the living off her stored orgone energy that had expanded her breasts.
The Emperor was the strongest unenhanced human she had ever known, definitely many times stronger than the typical man. But still, just an ordinary human. She didn’t discuss how a loop of gold around her took her strength down to just a few times more than the Emperor’s, making it safe for a Homo Supremis like her to have sex with a frail, unenhanced human.
Her eyes cooled off from their red-hot flash, back to blue. She slipped between the brand new sheets of the brand new bed, wearing only a necklace and a smile, beckoning him to join her. He didn’t need to be asked twice.
The next morning in bed, before they got up for breakfast, she said to him, “Oh, by the way, honey. Remember those galactic traders I mentioned to you. They asked me to let them know if I came across any elected governments that might want a trade deal.
“They gave me a beacon to inform them. I put it through the wormhole last night. If you see anything in the news about my visit to the Moon and the Wormhole yesterday, that’s what it was about. Just thought I should let you know.”
He said, “Oh, okay.” And that was it.
The Scanaltran trade exploration ship popped out of the wormhole a month later. The Scanaltrans found that there was an enormous human population, and a huge abundance of obviously highly profitable resources. The population was unified with a clearly representative brand new government, free of corruption and ready to make a deal. This was the best trading opportunity the Scanaltrans had ever seen!
The Scanaltrans quickly made a very favorable trade deal, which Parliament promptly approved. The first Trade Fair, to be held in another few months, would be enormous, and enormously fascinating!
Annabeth finally got to fly through the wormhole to see how things were going on the other side. This time the Glorious Hostilities again went to the wormhole on its own power, and through it with her.
For this particular trip the flagship had a crew of one: only Evril Fahenti was on board. She flew beside him in formation again, this time with him piloting this far larger ship through the wormhole.
Evril Fahenti had a day of meetings with Madame President and her staff.
It was so nice for Annabeth to be able to make fully uninhibited, gold-free love with Chan’g and Lars in the solar corona, and then to put on gold to share not just sex but also genuine caring and truly kind-hearted affection with O’r. That made a pleasantly full first day back.
Given the temporary shortage of trained Scribes, and a lower than usual level of important messages requiring personal delivery, the Velorian government had instructed Lars to simply remain at Jus Kadeen for now, documenting everything.
She wore gold again for her next night back, with the President and her husband at their home. This let them catch each other up on all the news over dinner, then in bed, then over breakfast. Although she didn’t need to eat for survival, of course, it was a nice pleasure to share their simple, unpretentious food again, too.
The Glorious Hostilities crew from the invasion, up to this time, were prisoners of war. They were thoroughly debriefed and treated kindly, but kept isolated in a military base on Jus Kadeen Six. Upon formally renouncing any prior treason against the United Jus Kadeen and Zukenov Republic, they now got to choose their next path. Most of them were eagerly ready to return home, as soon as they learned that option would be available within a year.
About a hundred of them, including Evril Fahenti, wanted to remain in the Jus Kadeen system, as the most adventurous way to have new experiences. They were inducted as full citizens, welcomed into the planetary society, and released from the military base to wherever they wished to go, as long as they stayed on this side of the wormhole for now.
The Jus Kadeen Fleet’s Second Admiral had just died, right as the military of the United Jus Kadeen and Zukenov Republic now had 6,357 more spaceships than before the Imperial Wedding, plus many shuttles. The search committee’s recommendation was obvious. Evril Fahenti was welcomed into the Enlightenment fleet as the new Second Admiral. His brilliant strategic mind was immediately put to use.
He learned how he would now need to confer with the Parliaments on both sides of the wormhole to set strategy, once the full exchanges were opened up, rather than it being the Empress’s choice alone. The First Admiral had to explain to him some of the moral limits on warfare within the Enlightenment system.
To Evril Fahenti’s surprise, 92% of the previous crew of the Glorious Hostilities asked to continue to report to him in the new chain of command, once the combined military got reorganized.
Annabeth flew through the Wormhole to the Zukenov Republic, leading the Jus Kadeen diplomatic exchange fleet. Now flying slowly enough for these ordinary ships to comfortably keep up, she set a pace that took twenty-one hours to lead their parade to the Palace Planet.
The diplomats started their endless series of meetings with Parliament and the staffs of the Departments. Meanwhile, full civilian and military travel across the wormhole was agreed to be opened in six months.
On the Zukenov side, even more surprising to Evril Fahenti, virtually all of those had indirectly reported to him in his old job – the secondary admirals, the captains and crew of the other ships – asked to work for him again.
After their time at the Oasis, the Emperor and Empress discovered that it was mutually delightful for them that he gave her warm and invulnerable skin a thorough caressing anointment all over with fragrant oils, while she lay down on his bed, and then floated up to a convenient height just below his hands.
In this relaxed setting, they both enjoyed as his fingertips stroked across her and then he dipped them again in the jars of the planet’s most sweet smelling organic essential oils. They liked her discovery of which scents were most appealing to her on each part of her body, subtly and sensually reflecting her mood from one day to another.
As he pushed hard against her with all the might of his muscles straining hard, she stayed perfectly in place and the small dollop of oil sloshed out to spread widely around her body in a very thin layer.
When she was floating face down, he braided her long hair, then set it over her shoulder for him to trace the curves of her back and her butt and down the back of her legs. When she was floating face up, he made sure to bring lots of kisses to her mouth, and down to her breasts, and further on down to her mound ,as she felt herself getting more wet than she had thought possible with a frail lover.
In these pleasantly shared moments, he was much more outspoken then in more formal settings like the dinner table, and she was much better able to concentrate on what he was saying than when they were having sex.
Often after an hour of this, she was so aroused that she landed, put on a gold necklace, and tossed him onto the bed, then jumped on top to wrap his excitement inside her as they both came.
She found out at last, in some of the most animated conversation the Emperor had ever yet had with her privately, how much he actually disliked the Palace Tower, and the capitol city, and having to make speeches. And for that matter, all the trappings of rule other than conquest itself, which now seemed to be an era that was forever behind him. He had now fully come to terms with that.
She also learned, with his conquering days behind him, how much better he now liked the quiet natural beauty of the Imperial Villa, on the peaceful isolated ocean shores of the Eastern Continent. He was a proficient shuttle pilot. He piloted his personal shuttle to his Villa by himself some days, while she was flying around with her own activities somewhere else.
One of those days, she made her only trip to the Moon that she made sure wasn’t observed. On the far side, she stashed something where nobody else could find it, before she made a stealthy return to the planet.
The staff for the Villa, a couple hundred people in all between maintenance, security, and service workers, had their own headquarters and maintenance facility near the closest town. It was all a few hundred miles from the Villa.
Nobody outside the Imperial Family lived at the Villa, or any closer to it. That was not a problem. Fast military shuttles could carry a special ops commando team to the Villa in a few minutes, if called with an emergency signal. This had never been needed in the current Emperor’s lifetime. After all, he could outperform his assigned bodyguards when it came to beating someone up. Otherwise, the large crew and cargo shuttles brought in the workers and supplies, with a trip of usually about an hour, while avoiding a sonic boom.
The Emperor had ordered that all landscaping, maintenance, cleaning and resupply work should be done one day a week, and otherwise the Villa should be left alone.
The Emperor didn’t make any changes to all of those longstanding arrangements at the Villa, when he and Annabeth moved to it full-time.
It was obviously going to be politics from here on out around the Zukenov Republic. Empress Annabeth Lessian asked to address Parliament. Their honored visitor floated, naked as always, over the middle of the chamber.
She said, “I am pleased with the talented representatives the people have chosen. And now, I announce that I join my husband to also retire completely from politics. We are permanently relocating our personal residence to the Villa. Your Emperor looks forward to now being out of the public eye, after his many decades of always putting the Empire’s military needs first in his life.
“Please note the no-fly, no-photography, no-data capture zone that now applies around the Villa’s peninsula. As a citizen pursuing his private interests now, your Emperor will take his own initiative if he wishes to address the public, or train with the troops, or do some sightseeing along with other ordinary citizens.
“As your Emperor and Empress have both stepped down from active day to day involvement in the government, we have no further need for the Palace complex.
“We propose that Parliament make a plan to relocate government functions to adjacent buildings, then sell the Palace Tower to the highest bidding coalition within thirty days for commercial redevelopment. And then, for you to use the proceeds to fund poverty relief throughout the Republic. On the day of the sale, your Emperor and Empress will leave the Tower to whatever use the People’s purchasers wish to make of it.”
This suggestion was immediately, unanimously passed into law.
The new protocol was that official documents for the Parliament had to be dropped off at the new Supreme Court facility across town, and then the Supreme Court would send them by courier to Parliament. On the thirty-first day, she visited the Supreme Court in the morning. She dropped off some sealed documents that morning, for Parliament to open later in the day.
She then flew back to the Palace, where, in the Throne Room, she and the Emperor signed the bill of sale. This let Parliament transfer the Tower to the consortium of buyers, for the largest amount of money she had ever seen. The Imperial couple had not asked for this, but Parliament had insisted that one percent of the sale price go to the Imperial Family.
Naked as ever, she then took the even more grandly dressed than ever Emperor, in his best new Royal Robes and boots ever, from the Grand Balcony into the air as the crowd cheered.
A photo taken by a teenage girl from the Eastern Continent showed the Emperor and Empress in the sky with the Full Moon behind them, as the Empress took her husband over the ocean to the Imperial Villa. The image became one of the Empire’s best selling posters of all time. (It was the Republic now, but a lot of people still referred to it as the Empire, just from a lifetime’s habits.)
She set him down at the Villa. They went inside together for the last time.
The Emperor took off the elaborate last grand hurrah from the Imperial Seamstress. The Empress put on a gold necklace while next to him. He opened a glass jar, which made a brief puff as the hermetic seal was broken. They ate some dates from the Oasis, and from the jar, they sipped the sweet sauce lovingly cooked by the descendents of the Lovers. Then they went to the bedroom.
When they finished, she took the necklace off and laid it on his bedroom bookshelf, next to the glass jar now half-full of Oasis dates and sauce.
The Imperial Villa’s master bedroom had its own completely private courtyard. He didn’t bother putting any Royal Robes or boots back on, as he stepped outside with her to the fragrant and beautiful walled gardens.
They had a last time for her to lie on her back, floating a few feet up, as he pressed her favorite fragrant oils against her invulnerable skin. As he kissed her, with great conscientious detail, up and down the length of her body while she felt herself shake with wave after wave of bliss.
She then landed, and stood on the grass beside him. She looked up into his eyes, and reached up a hand to gently caress his face. She said, “Thank you for your marriage proposal, my Emperor. Your quick thinking the night we met prevented a war that otherwise would have killed billions. You are a fearsome opponent. A mighty conquerer, an imposing warrior. An ingenious politician. A comprehensive scholar. And a good man to love. I wish you success with your civilian life.”
Quoting a line from the last page of the book, she said, “May you live very, very long to sip your wine, and may you be very, very happy under your moonlight.”
She gently kissed his lips, then flew up into his sky, on to his Full Moon, and out of his life.
She visited the far side of the Moon, at the location out of sight of any cameras. She used her eye beams to blast open the rock to get to the small cave she previously had dug deep under the Moon’s surface, then filled in. She retrieved the small Imperial Archives tote bag, the kind usually provided to donors for a twenty unit per month subscription, with the few items she’d tucked inside.
She traveled across the system at 0.99 C so that cameras could track her. She dove into the wormhole to leave the Zukenov system behind her for the rest of her life. On the Emperor’s side of the wormhole, he was the only one who knew that this was her plan. From their conversations throughout this past month, he knew this was the last time he would ever speak to her, or see her in person.
Upon the formal delivery from the Supreme Court that afternoon, Parliament opened the documents package. They found that it transferred all Imperial Family owned resources to the People, with three exceptions for the Emperor and one for the Empress.
The Emperor kept the Imperial Villa, with full ongoing funding of its security, maintenance, and operations staffs, and his personal shuttle. He kept a very comfortable lifetime pension, but far less than everyone expected. And he kept the unlimited right for him to personally visit the Oasis by himself whenever he might wish to do so.
These rights would go to the Empress upon the Emperor’s death, unless he had since remarried or had a son who was his Heir Apparent.
The paperwork also established that there was an investment fund at the Central Bank, invested by formula into the overall Republic Economy. It was available for the Empress to draw upon as she wished, from any bank branch on any planet. This would remain hers even if he did remarry.
As with his pension, hers was ample to provide an extremely comfortable standard of living anywhere in the Republic or Jus Kadeens. If she did not withdraw any increases, they would be automatically reinvested back into the fund.
He sometimes took his shuttle to visit the Oasis by himself. He never remarried or had any children. She never made a bank withdrawal.
By the time two-way travel for all fully opened through the wormhole, Annabeth and Chan’g were long gone from this part of the galaxy.
At the Imperial Apartment, the Empress could have effortlessly read the personal papers in the Emperor’s private study at any time, without needing to open the desk drawers or even go into the room. She saw no reason to do so.
She would not have been surprised to learn that almost all of it was notes related to political and military matters of conquest and rule.
There were only three items from before the Emperor had ascended to the throne at age 19.
The Empress had never had the slightest interest in anything about the Emperor’s life, his decades of leadership, or what he had learned from his experiences. She had no idea about the third oldest item.
The third oldest item was a one page news clipping from 36 years ago. The Imperial Family, including the Heir Apparent, then 19 years old, had a personal vacation.
The then ruling Emperor had made clear, since the Heir Apparent’s 14th birthday, that he intended to transfer power and retire when the Heir was 25. A ten year plan to cover all that a new Emperor would need to know had been established, and they were gradually working through it. As the Heir told his Empress from beyond the wormhole many years later, his father had them humbly eat like the locals on this and every trip.
The Imperial Family joined a geological tourism group which was visiting from Planet Five to explore the Southern Continent. The tourists would then go on to the Eastern Continent, and the Imperial Family would return home to the Palace.
At a thousand foot high cliff always thought to be safe, a freak sudden landslide was caused by a once in ten million years random shift of tectonic plates. The collapse killed all of the Imperial Family except for the Heir Apparent, and he was only rescued by fast, and extraordinarily brave, action by some of the tourists. A third of the tourists also perished.
With the landslide, there was now a new Emperor six years before he thought he would need to be ready to rule.
The news reports left out one thing. The tourists had talked with the Imperial Family about where they were going next after the geology visit: the Oasis, as they were from the community that lived by the Credo of the Lovers. This was the first time the Emperor had talked with any Credo-followers.
The elder then Emperor was deeply moved and impressed by these conversations. The late Emperor’s last command, before his surprising, shockingly sudden death, was to make the Oasis preserved for all time with only the one harvest visit a year for the representatives of the community on Planet Five. This ruling was made to take effect in two weeks, just after the Credo-followers would have visited the Oasis and then returned to their planet.
The new young Emperor’s first command, that sad and shocking day, was to order the journalists and historians to make no mention of the ultimate intended purpose of the tourists. To not in any way associate them with the book and the story of the Lovers, or even to mention that the tourists were from Planet Five.
There would be a lot of public interest in the saviors of the Heir. He wanted them to be able to live a life where, as they preferred, they were left alone by all others.
The second oldest item in the Emperor’s office was from when he was 16. This one would not have surprised the Empress.
A year and a half into the Emperor’s training of the young Heir Apparent, the father took the son on a week-long wilderness camping trip. The Emperor insisted that it be just the two of them, no staff, no guards, no surveillance. They were only supplied with what they could personally carry in their backpacks. They were dropped off in an extremely remote and rugged location by shuttle, which would return in seven days.
The first half of the week were conversations similar to what the Heir Apparent had experienced all his life from his father, who was always kind, gracious, caring, considerate, patiently empathetic with his son.
With no warning, suddenly the Emperor attacked the Heir with the most brutally harsh of martial arts, beating the Heir to within an inch of his life, ready to strike what would clearly be the killing blow to the trapped, pinned-down, terrified and bewildered son.
The Emperor then said, “You’ll live, my son. I’m sorry I had to do that, but if I had only said the words, you might not have understood or believed me about what your life will be like eight years from now. For no reason other than that you are Emperor, there will be many people who want to do to you what I just did. But unlike me, they will not stop. If you are ever again put into this position by anyone else, that will be the last day of your life. You must make yourself stronger and more powerful than all of them.
“And for no reason other than that you rule an Empire, there will be many peoples who want to do that to all of your Empire. Who want to enslave and kill your people, destroy their ships and lay waste their lands, to make it impossible to ever recover. Your personal power and your military power are the keys to your survival. It is better for you to own the adjacent systems, than to wonder when they will come after you.
“I believe you will never forget this lesson. Now come and I will teach you the first ten of the sparring movements, before the shuttle returns. Your bruises will have healed by then.”
He reached his hand to his son’s wrist and pulled him up. He gently demonstrated and guided his son to have a stance with knees and ankles slightly bent out. He suddenly flipped his son onto the ground, hard. He then showed how to absorb the shock of such a maneuver. Within two hours that left them both soaked with sweat, his son was able to remain standing.
The second oldest document in the Emperor’s personal office, which Annabeth had never bothered to investigate, was from one month later: the first training guide, from what became the most extensive collection of deadly hand-to-hand combat method archives ever assembled in the galaxy by one man.
The night that the Emperor was surprised by Evril Fahenti’s early return alone, with an interim invasion update just after having gone through the wormhole to conquer, the Emperor was even more surprised to meet Annabeth Lessian.
In the office with its high ceiling, she demonstrated what she could do. Then she and Fahenti discussed with the Emperor the whole story of the failed invasion, and how the crew of his badly damaged flagship were now her prisoners of war on the other side of the wormhole.
The Emperor said nothing for a moment. Then he said, “This is very worrisome to me. Personally, I have no problem surrendering to you to save the Empire, as Fahenti correctly did to save his flagship and crew. But that might not save the Empire.
“The purpose of an Emperor is to increase the glory of the people, by expanding the conquests of the Empire. My people will follow me through any hardships to victory. They have done so many times. But as many as a third will likely refuse to follow me to defeat. An Emperor who cannot bring victory is, in the eyes of many, already disqualified to be an Emperor at all. My surrender would trigger a civil war within, and a war with you without the Empire. Both sides of that war would be unbelievably destructive. Fahenti, am I mistaken?”
Fahenti said, “My Emperor, I very sadly have to agree with you. There is no question that the Empire would ultimately lose to Annabeth Lessian, even if she does not bring in Chan’g D’artha as an ally. By herself, she can destroy one ship at a time until there is no fleet, one city at a time until there is no resistance. But at what cost? Bringing the entire Empire back to the stone age, as the ruler over nothing but rubble?”
Annabeth was quiet too for a moment. She said to the Emperor, “I also find this very troubling. Your surrender would be too destructive. Yet I cannot accept the absence of an unconditional surrender of your Empire to me.”
They all sat and glared each other for a minute, foreheads wrinkled with upset worry.
Then the Emperor’s face became completely calm and serene, and he sat up comfortably. He turned to Annabeth. “Marry me, Annabeth Lessian,” he said.
“WHAT!!” she and Fahenti both yelled.
Even more calmly, he repeated, “Marry me. Any marriage of political leaders unites the dynasties. We will be joint leaders of a united Empire on both sides of the wormhole. With peace, unity, and open trade assured, with it all being one unified entity after all, there will be no need for you to have a war to totally destroy us. And there will be no resistance to your leadership, with your obvious power to bring victory.
“You don’t have to sleep with me even one night if you don’t want to. All we need is the wedding ceremony, and then a demonstration to the people of the Empire of what you can do. I will then immediately cede all political authority to you by simply retiring the same day as the wedding, which should be tomorrow, without having to surrender or abdicate. Instead of fighting to overthrow you, the people will welcome you and love you. Fahenti, am I mistaken?”
Fahenti said, “Your strategic thinking is flawless as ever, my Emperor.” He turned to Annabeth, and said to her, “I see this as an excellent solution. And I see no other solution. What use would you have for subjugated people crawling in a scorched planet with no technology left, back in the stone age?”
She thought some more. Then she turned to the Emperor and said, “But what if I do want to have sex with you?”
The Emperor said, “Fahenti, go to your quarters. I will page you in a while.” Fahenti got up and left.
She had already seen, looking through the Royal Robes with her tachyon vision, that the Emperor’s beard was a preview of the little tuft of hair in the middle of his chest, before continuing down to his well built six pack abs… and some even more interesting biology to her, a little lower than that.
An hour later, Fahenti was paged to return. The Emperor had the most calm and serene smile Fahenti had ever seen on him. Annabeth Lessian floated in the air above the Emperor’s chair. Her toes were slid under the collar of his Royal Robes. She was absentmindedly massaging the tops of his shoulders with the bottom of her feet. The Emperor had his hands up to gently stroke his fingers along the tops of her feet.
The three of them had the announcement page written within two hours. At the Emperor’s request, Annabeth stepped into the next room, closed the door, and looked and listened through the thick marble wall. Fahenti stepped into the inner office on the other side, and turned on the intercom to listen as the astonished Publicity Director was called in.
The Publicity Director was excited by the news. Then dismayed at not being given any time to rewrite it with the full proper grandeur. Then further dismayed at not being allowed to meet Annabeth until the wedding itself. And then excited again at getting to make the announcement immediately and plan an Imperial Wedding in one night.
As soon the Publicity Director left, the three of them planned the next day’s events to help the people of the Empire understand their new Empress, and to retrieve the flagship for Fahenti’s next job assignment.
Then Fahenti was dismissed for the night. The Emperor and the Empress-to-Be got little sleep, as the strongest man in the entire Empire, and the far stronger woman from beyond the Empire, discovered some ways to enjoy uniting more than their political fortunes.
If Annabeth had stuck around longer, she might have eventually learned the history of the very oldest document in the Emperor’s personal office. A 14 year old newly designated Heir Apparent had thought that he might as well find out what all the fuss was about, with this book about a historical romance from long ago.
He started reading and was fascinated. Then, after a months of going over and over each page as one needs to do, he came to page 35. He stayed up all night to read those passages again and again with a sense of wonder, as a feeling of fullness and ache he had never known before stirred between his legs for the first time.
The next day, he remarked to the Imperial Archivist about how that scene was an inspiring model of what love should be for everyone. No wonder so many marriages lasted!
The Archivist was silent a moment. Then she said, “I see why you would think that, my Lord, but no, it’s not the case. A love like that only happened once. It only happened in one place. It only happened in one time. It only happened to that one blessed set of lovers. It will never come again.
“The rest of us can only hope to touch the edge of such a love, knowing it can never be ours, that what happened in the Oasis will never be repeated. Nobody today could live by the Credo, not without totally abandoning ordinary society, that is. Enjoy the book’s history lessons, but know that they describe an event whose time has come and gone and will not be repeated, not for any of us. Not even an Emperor could change that.”
She then changed the subject to some scheduling matters.
The Heir Apparent went into his room and locked the door. Several hours later, there was the knock inviting him to meal time. He yelled that he wasn’t hungry.
He quietly cried alone for four hours, and then he again stayed up all night. With the passion of youth, he wrote and wrote, pouring out on the page all the hopes and dreams, the fears and anger, of a young person’s first discovery that perfect love existed, but that it could never be his. He wrote ten pages. The last page was smudged with tears, so he wrote it out again and burned the tear-stained original.
The next morning, his eyes were dry and his eleven pages of angst and desire were locked in his safe. His whole life, he never discussed those pages or ideas with anyone.
Throughout his reign, the Emperor had, as he remarked to his Empress, occasionally used some sayings that came from the book, just like everyone did. Nobody had any idea at all what the book really meant to him.
He had never demonstrated any evidence in the slightest of any interest in anything of literature, arts, or culture. He did nothing more about them than approve the usual funding. He always accept the occasional recommendations of the arts guilds or the scholars about someone to officially commend for their notable career achievements in those fields.
The Emperor had given many detailed speeches about the military state of the Empire, but he had never published anything but the occasional article on warfighting doctrine and hand-to-hand combat techniques. On these subjects he always had a brilliant synthesis of what the best experts had to say.
The Emperor wanted to be by himself at his Villa. He ordered the staff to continue to visit only one day a week for all cleaning, maintenance, and so forth, and to drop off more than a week’s worth of food and supplies each time so that the kitchen was always well stocked. Otherwise, he would call if he wanted anything more. The audio farspeaker was in the front reception hall of the Villa.
The next maintenance visit was supposed to happen two days after the Empress had flown away. The staff, as with everyone but the Emperor, still had no idea that she would not be back. He told the staff that he wished them to skip their visit this week. All had been perfectly established before he and the Empress arrived, after all. His voice didn't sound very good, but that was not for the staff to question.
He had used some women, of course, as he had mentioned to her and as his people well knew. But he not known love before he had met her.
With her departure, he felt nausea, disorientation, fatigue, dizziness. He had a fever. It felt like the center of his chest, with so much heat by his heart, was being internally ripped apart. His six-pack abs throbbed with a pain unlike anything from all his fighting and training, as though underneath them his guts were melting.
He figured this must be what people called love sickness, for which there was no cure. He did not say anything about this to the staff. He definitely did not want to be seen this way, as he hunched doubled over, then curled up in pain and hardly got out of bed at all. He did not know if he would recover. If not, at least he would die without disparaging the majesty of the Imperial role.
The following week, he again told the staff to skip their visit. He was feeling much better, despite his beard and body hair having completely fallen out. (The hair on the top of his head was unaffected.)
He now put a stack of papers into a box. He wrapped it with sturdy strings. He set it out on the table outside the front door of the Villa. He sent the message for the box to be picked up from the Villa by a fast shuttle, and then delivered as he ordered.
Ten days after his Empress left his side forever, the Emperor surprised everyone by publishing his 500 page book about the deeper philosophical meaning of Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine.
The writing style was unquestionably the Emperor, reading just like he talked, organized just like his well-known thought process. It was clearly his own work.
He went through the story to discuss the nature of love and of loss, as demonstrated through the lives of the Lovers at the Oasis. Alternate chapters of his book summarized key scenes, in a way that people had never thought before about what they said about love.
And then there were the Emperor’s own reflections on what it would be like for people to live today by those lessons. Not in an isolated community where they knew everyone else shared the Credo, but in the rough and tumble everyday world.
The Emperor made no mention in the book of his own experiences in life and war and politics.
He never told anyone this, and made no hint in the book that it was anything but the recent thoughts of a middle-aged man. But the final, extraordinarily passionate chapter, the one that brought all readers to tears, was all of what he had written that long night when he was 14.
He also made no mention to anyone ever, of his goddesslike Empress having finally helped him experience the fulfillment of that dream, 41 years later.
Annabeth had no idea that her gift to him, and then her departure, was what inspired him to go to his safe, take out the manuscript he’d been adding to and rewriting all his life, add “TO MY EMPRESS” on the title page, and have it published.
The book became an instant best-seller and the most acclaimed guide ever to Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine. The author no longer had the ability to exile, or worse, those who didn’t praise his words, so all knew the praise was genuine. All of the people of the Empire were amazed, and they were inspired.
After the publication, he allowed his staff to resume their weekly caretaking routines at the Villa. The outpouring of love and acclaim from the people seemed to lift his spirits. In their brief glimpses of the Emperor the Villa staff got as they did their work, they thought he perhaps looked even stronger and healthier than they’d ever seen him before.
Also, the staff thought the new clean shaven look worked well for him in his newly retired life.
They knew better than to ask him any questions about when their Empress would return.
Annabeth was already long gone back to the Jus Kadeen side of the wormhole before the Emperor’s publication, and she had no interest in further news from the Palace Planet.
As the diplomats went back and forth through the wormhole, one of them fulfilled a request from Annabeth. He brought back some of the four-element metal, the kind that had been used in the dessert bowls, along with the metallurgic information on how to assemble the alloy.
Jus Kadeen scientists found it very easy to produce the alloy. Chan’g and Lars agreed that in a thin sheet, especially heated to just at its melting point, the metal was a truly delicious delicacy. They would have to wait for more, though, because the four elements were rare in this part of the Galaxy. Neutronium was especially hard to come by around here.
Annabeth and Chan’g had some important writing of their own to do, and it was completely expected and required as part of their jobs. Soon they completed their joint report and request, and sent in a copy to each of their governments.
Her copy of her and Chang’s combined report and request was ready. As was always done with the most important, high security Velorian documents, her report was personally hand carried by a Messenger to the High Council for Velorian Protectors.
Annabeth and Lars jointly encrypted the data storage crystal, before it went into his messenger bag. Either of them could decrypt it, which would automatically authenticate the other one; he would do so upon his arrival at the High Council headquarters, which of course had her security keys on file.
She and Lars had a great last night together, before he flew off to deliver the document in person. They knew it could be another century before they saw each other again. But they also both knew there would be some comforting times for her with other Messengers through the years.
There was soon a new rule for Protectors, that they may not marry a local political or social leader of a non-Enlightenment system without prior discussion with the Council of the diplomatic implications. Unless in an emergency situation a marriage was the only way to avert otherwise catastrophic war involving a member of the Enlightenment coalition. Which of course had been her situation.
Chan’g had something in common with all Bih’Zah’Ro, including the few remaining females. The genetic enhancements seldom worked, unless there was the presence of large quantities of testosterone. This resulted in 90% of all Bih’Zah’Ro being male.
Velorian Protectors were the very strongest of their species, leaving the male Primes in their secondary role as Messenger. But Bih’Zah’Ro females had their one strategic weakness, which had led to the destruction of most of the females who had fought the Quadruple Alliance.
Were there even any Bih’Zah’Ro females left? Chan’g idly wondered. Would there ever be any more? Not that it mattered to him, since he’d met Annabeth. He didn’t bother putting those questions into their document.
The Treaty required that each adult Bih’Zah’Ro, either male or female, must register themself as an Astrostrategic Weapon of Mass Destruction. Thus, Chan’g D’artha’s copy of the joint report and request went to the Astrostrategic Galactic Superweapons Limitations Treaty Conference on Kelsor 7.
It was no coincidence that the Conference headquarters were on the same planet as the Kelsor Institute. Both were established after populations had to flee genocidal warfare, to rebuild on this isolated planet.
First the last survivors of Belside re-established their Institute. Later, when the Quadruple Coalition finally ended the astonishingly ruthless sneak attack of the Bih’Zah’Ro and broke their aggressive will, the victims of that attack recognized that Kelsor was by far the most appropriate place for the Treaty Conference.
The Conference looked for more peaceful uses for what the Bih’Zah’Ro could do. Now it ran this test program that experimentally put a Biz’Zah’Ro and a Protector together as a Wormhole Guardian team.
Annabeth and Chan’g both reported that they thought the Wormhole Guardian program was a brilliant idea. Their report said it should be encouraged and expanded.
They were enthusiastic that Wormhole Guarding would be a very satisfying career path for Protectors who wanted more independence and adventure, but also a stimulating and enjoyable ongoing working relationship.
It would also be a welcome change for Bih’Zah’Ro who were tired of living entirely by themselves in space, but didn’t want the hassle of dealing with planetary frails on a day to day basis.
And now the program was also a proven, extremely effective way to prevent any Wormhole-based attacks on Enlightenment planetary systems.
The couple also thought, from their testing it, that the PHONE BOOTH was a successful technology very useful for Wormhole Guardians. They said that a spare unit should be included with each deployment.
As an attachment, the report included the four elements metallurgy document.
All four elements were abundant near Kelsor. The plasma jet made Kelsor 7 especially rich in neutronium, so much so that it was a bit of a nuisance to dispose of it when mining more useful minerals. Annabeth and Chan’g’s report suggested that the Kelsor Institute consider a new product line, making delicious dessert plates that Velorians and Bih’Zah’Ro could take along for an enjoyable snack. They could also make hand-holdable metal bars (for delicious bites) that could easily be kept in a BOOTH.
The Protector Council and the Weapons Conference agreed to continue the teamed-up Wormhole Guardian program, offering renewable terms up to ten years for any couple.
With the large new purchase order, the Kelsor Institute’s factory set up full scale manufacturing production for the new BOOTH product line.
The manufacturing engineers also set up a test run of the four-element alloy. The foundry formed the alloy into ingots they sliced into thin metal plates the size of a large pancake. They poured the alloy into molds, to make easily handheld or pocket-sized snack bars.
There were about 1,300 Bih’Zah’Ro currently existing, and the expectation that a few more each year would reach their deployable age of forty. There was a backlog of over 2,000 unguarded wormholes around the galaxy. The opportunities were endless for any Biz’Zha’Ro and Protectors who wanted to try something new.
In a tiny footnote that would be easy for the casual reader to overlook, the Protector Council’s diplomatic verbiage said that use of the snug fitting red, blue, and yellow Protector uniform, with its classic red tall boots and cape, were ruled to now be officially at the discretion of Protectors on Wormhole Guardian duty.
Unlike planetary duty, wearing the Uniform while using Velorian combat abilities was no longer mandatory for Wormhole Guardians. After all, at the wormhole they weren’t expected to have much ongoing interaction in person with planetary populations who needed to know at a glance who was fighting for them.
Wormhole Guardians would only need occasional brief visits for updates on the local politics. Even those visits would not need to be as frequent, now that minor matters could be handled with a call to the Guardian pair’s BOOTH.
And of course, clothes were useless for Bih’Zah’Ro, given the nature of their own personal energy storage systems and primary weapons. The Weapons Conference didn’t care, but privately, the Protectors Council thought it might look weird and unappealing to have one of a Guardian pair in uniform and the other naked.
Many of the Protectors doing planetary duty now requested individual sized BOOTHs they could deploy, both on the ground and in orbit.
A BOOTH provided a convenient place for them to stop in to quickly coordinate with planetary authorities in a crisis, and to feel happy about eating a nice little metal snack, before going into battle. Protectors also often stored another uniform in their BOOTH, rather than needing to always carry one around at the ready.
Soon it was a very welcome sign throughout the galaxy that powerful help was on the way, when a BOOTH door slid open, either on the busiest streets of a major city, or the top of a skyscraper or mountain, or in orbit; and a blue, red, and yellow clad powerful, beautiful, and bravely heroic woman flew out and then away in a barely visible blur, cape fluttering behind her, to go save the day! Such an inspiring sight, bringing hope to all!
Annabeth and Chan’g asked to be transferred together to guard some other wormhole, now that the Zukenov wormhole was covered by the ordinary security forces of the United Republic.
The First Admiral made all plans for ships outside of the Zukenov and Jus Kadeens territories. Second Admiral Evril Fahenti personally led the cross-wormhole patrols on the Glorious Hostilities, and conducted all local fleet planning from his flagship.
Annabeth had decided the ship-mounted GAR was an irresponsibly dangerous weapon of mass destruction. As planetary conquest through intimidation was no longer a mission for the Glorious Hostilities, she had ordered the removal of the primary weapon and all of its related laser and antimatter equipment.
She ordered the mile long and hundred foot diameter tube along the bottom of the flagship to be rebuilt as a hangar bay. It now held a large number of one and two man patrol fighter squadrons, along with their support staff, supplies, and maintenance workshops.
The long tube provided an upper flight path. Below that was a lower maintenance cargo rail line for relocating the fighters. The former cooling vents for the GAR lens were now the main launch stations, for the fighters to pop out either side of the flagship. From this central position, they could spin off in any direction, to defeat any foe that would threaten the United Republic’s peaceful prosperity.
Since Lars was about to head back to Velor, he put his uniform back on. Annabeth never much liked the uniform on her, but she thought Lars looked good with the blue tights, red shorts and boots and cape, and yellow design on the chest.
Annabeth, Chan’g, Lars before he left, and the visiting Scanaltrans who got a tour, were all extremely impressed by the ingenuity of Zukenov’s naval architects.
The flagship’s shuttles were busy, with additional Admirals and Captains and politicians coming and going for conferences with the Second Admiral. Manufacturing of the new fighters was underway. There was a lot of new military doctrine to create, for these new strategic opportunities.
The United Republic would do fine without needing an Empress any more. She mentioned in passing to the Prime Minister that she’d “be gone for a while with some business elsewhere.” The next day she left, never to return. Well, it had worked for Skietra, right?
While Annabeth and Chan’g waited for the official responses to their report, the couple flew together through subspace to the Kelsor system. Then they lived for now in orbit amid Kelsor’s most unique astronomical feature, the colorful gas and plasma jet funnel between the planets.
The couple’s request, in their report, was that they next be assigned as far as possible from any expected political complications. It would also be nice, they had remarked in a surprisingly cynical line for an official report, for them to not have to stay below the speed of light all the time when flying around in their next assignment.
Accurately reading between the lines, their governments understand that what all this complaining really meant was that the couple just wanted isolation. With lots of uninterrupted time to fuck.
Grateful for how well things had gone at the Zukenov wormhole, their governments found the ideal, out of the way place to send the couple now. It was the perfect reward Annabeth and Chan’g wanted: the least strategically relevant wormhole yet discovered, on a ten year assignment.
After a few weeks, the governments sent a subspace appointment message for the nearby space station's crew to pass along to the couple. The couple flew down to the surface of Kelsor 7, to meet in person with the Treaty Conference. The conference room had a subspace video link with her bosses in the Velor system, so that both of the couple were told of their new position in the same meeting.
Annabeth and Chan’g were quite pleased with the details of their new assignment.
After the meeting, the couple flew halfway around Kelsor 7, to the Kelsor Institute factory. They picked up their brand new pair of BOOTHs to take with them. The proud design team personally showed them all the improved features. The couple put their few personal items in the BOOTH storage cubbies, and had additional storage space left over for an assortment of both types of four-element metal snacks. The BOOTHs were then pushed together, and their pull-0ut interlocking chains attached so that they could be carried together.
The strategically mobile couple crossed the galaxy. They settled into their new work site, at the strategically useless and very isolated wormhole. They landed on a comet. They punched the surface with their fists to make a cavern. They separated their pair of BOOTHs, and buried Chang’s BOOTH to keep as a spare.
They conveniently positioned Annabeth’s BOOTH for them to share, for their wormhole observations at the edge of the solar system.
An outer planet had geysers of boiling methane. The geysers swirled around deep fissures which opened to the planet’s internal layers of magma.
One ten mile high cliff had a spiral at the meeting point of both upward and downward flows of boiling rocks and gases. Concave rocks, about the size of a person’s head, made nice big drinking mugs. It was a perfect spot for the couple to sit down and share a delicious four-element snack plate, then wash it down with a romantically steaming methane-and-magma toast to their coming decade together.
At her BOOTH, Annabeth took an item out of her Imperial Archives tote bag. She put the bag with its remaining items back into the BOOTH’s storage cubby. She set her copy of Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine on their new BOOTH’s shelf, which had a clever pull-out tray assembly. The Kelsor Institute engineers said the shelf would relate to some future system upgrades they would discuss, once the prototypes were ready.
The shelf was labeled PHONE BOOK. What, Annabeth concluded, would be a more fitting book to put on the special shelf?
In their ample time together in the coming decade, she looked forward to romantically reading aloud to Chan’g from her Phone Book.
Of course, the most overlooked, strategically irrelevant, unimportant places of all, sometimes turn out to be where history’s most important events occur - the most famous places well known by all in society since childhood…
THE END FOR NOW…
TO BE CONTINUED!
Continuing this new series, Genesis of the Bih’Zah’Ro will explain the history of the only group of men who were, for a terrifying moment in galactic history, able to challenge even the might of the Velorian Protectors. Discover the history-making interactions of the Bih’Zah’Ro with Velor, Aurea, Belside (including the real reason for the genocidal attack there), Kelsor 7, the Scalantrans, and the Diaboli.
Planetary Remodeling will present further adventures of Annabeth and Chan’g.
Another story will discuss the origins of the Velorians, as a group of Swedish villagers abducted from Earth and brought to a surprising new world.
Any similarity with actual persons, incidents, or inspiring tearjerker love stories of any world’s greatest historic literature, is coincidental.