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Empire Zukenov Invades! Part 4 of 6

Written by AUphoric :: [Tuesday, 17 May 2022 22:33] Last updated by :: [Tuesday, 24 May 2022 10:42]

Part 4 – Continuation of the naughty space opera in the Aurora Universe!

Captain Parkes still struggled for what he would say to his own crew, after their onboard dinner that evening. It turned out that events at the Palace pre-empted whatever he would have said anyway.

The ship reached the Palace Planet. Their new Admiral reminded her bridge crew of the requirement for secrecy. Then she walked with Evril Fahenti into his command shuttle, which he piloted down for their closed-door meeting with the Emperor for dinner.

Once the shuttle was away, the big ship’s maneuvering thrusters did the intricate dance to precisely adjust its velocity, location, and attitude. For a ship this massive, both the expert pilot and the high-tech navcomputer did their part in the complicated maneuver, to position the ship into geosynchronous orbit. With only ten minutes of microadjustments, it was at just the right altitude to retain its location above the Palace Plaza.

Evril Fahenti’s trip down was not unusual. He had, many times before, landed at the Palace docking platform at the 48th floor of the 129 story Palace Tower, waited for the private hallway to be extended to the shuttle door, and walked alone to the Emperor’s Office for his conversation with only the Emperor.

The Office floor was one of the grander, elegantly constructed parts of the Tower, Here were thirty foot high ceilings, and ornate halls lined with the rarest, most expensive artworks from throughout the Empire.

For security reasons, the food was dropped off, and then the Office floor was double checked to be entirely cleared of anyone else but the Emperor before Fahenti’s arrival.

Unlike before, Evril Fahenti now left the shuttle’s window shutters closed, and came in on instruments. Two things were different now. For the first time, the Captain didn’t have a big smile on his face, looking forward to a refreshing conversation with the Emperor about conquest.

And as he entered the Palace halls and proceeded to walk briskly to the Emperor’s Personal Office, this time he had someone else striding beside him. Fahenti always walked very fast on official business, but this girl easily kept up as she walked next to him. Young, beautiful, deadly, naked. And now in charge of his life like a cat with a ball of string.

The Emperor was 55 years old, and the most physically imposing, muscular and strong man that Evril Fahenti had ever known or heard of, up until meeting Chan’g D’artha.

A lifelong bachelor, the time, effort, and attention a married man would put into family, or a horny man would put into chasing girls, instead was put by the Emperor into his extremely intense, steroid-enhanced workouts, and his leading the Palace guards, most elite soldiers in the entire military, in their drills.

Usually the Emperor pulled off his sweat-drenched Royal Robes after the first couple of hours, around the time most of the elite troops started to throw up and pass out from the exertion.

The Emperor was just warming up then, good for another eight hours of intense hand to hand fighting after that, in only his shorts and combat boots. The Emperor was always the last man standing. The sweat poured off his massive pecs, across the little tuft of hair in the middle of his chest, before continuing down to his dense, well defined six pack abs.

Evril Fahenti now walked towards what he was sure would be both the worst and the last meeting of his entire life. He wondered if the Emperor would run him through with a sword, or just snap his neck with his bare hands.

Or perhaps, the Emperor would give one of his extremely rare smiles, stroking his neatly trimmed beard as he approvingly watched how the woman now beside Evril would kill the Captain in some fresh nightmare… beyond his ability to even imagine.

Palace Surprise

The Palace Planet had one Moon, in phase locked orbit to always show the same side to the planet. The Moon was shining bright and full tonight.

That night, around the time most people in the Palace’s part of the world were about ready for bed, there was a brief announcement. Not just in the news system but in all media. It was from the Imperial Publicity Director.

No pictures accompanied this announcement. Nobody could remember the last time an announcement went out without any pictures of the people involved.

“The Emperor is pleased to announce that on the other side of the new wormhole, as Captain of the mightiest Imperial flagship ever, Glorious Hostilities, Evril Fahenti discovered another human population there, and opened negotiations with Annabeth Lessian of that human population.

“The flagship demonstrated its might, as designed, but also sustained significant unexpected damages in the transit. While Fahenti let the flagship remain on the other side of the wormhole for the contemplation of the peoples there during its repairs, Lessian joined him for his return by shuttle to provide his interim report to the Emperor. This was done in a private briefing with only the three of them attending.

“That briefing has just now concluded.

“The Emperor and Annabeth Lessian are pleased to jointly announce that tomorrow morning, in the Throne Room, Annabeth Lessian will marry the Emperor and become our Empress, thereby uniting populations and governments across the wormhole. Her people, the Velorian Protectors, will thereby be equally joined with the Empire in the most gracious, ancient, and honorable form of harmony.

“News video broadcast on all frequencies will carry this grand event throughout the Empire. The usual lottery for standing room only visitors to the Imperial Palace Tower Plaza will be held, opening in five minutes from the time of this announcement.

“Annabeth Lessian and Fahenti are guests of the Emperor overnight. Tomorrow, Fahenti, as the Emperor’s Best Man, will get to enjoy the day of celebrations. In two days, he will provide briefings to the military about security arrangements relating to the wormhole.

“Your new Empress-to-be has stated that rather than providing pictures and statements tonight, she instructs you to simply look forward to get to view her for the first time at the wedding ceremony.

“Immediately after the wedding, there will be a photo opportunity she will provide, of your Emperor and Empress waving to the citizens from the Grand Balcony. She looks forward to your fullest attentiveness to her greetings.

“The three of them also jointly state that both she and the flagship will soon have return visits through the wormhole, and meanwhile, no signals or items are to be deployed through the wormhole. That is all. Thank you and good night to all Citizens, from the grandeur and grace of your Emperor.”

It was unusual to not properly, completely state Fahenti’s full title. And it wasn’t clear exactly which day was meant for Fahenti’s military briefing. But then, everyone realized, this was probably the fastest an official announcement had ever been delivered from the Palace. The writing was probably a bit rushed.

*

It was usual for the Emperor to call various people to come to a meeting in his Office. With Fahenti having returned, it was expected by the Palace staff that the Emperor would have various staff members and military personnel visit as a result of the briefing.

The Emperor had just called the Publicity Director to the Emperor’s Office, actually a rather extensive suite of meeting rooms where he and Fahenti could bring in several tacticians and associate admirals. For now, only the Emperor was in the front room for the conversation with the Director.

The Emperor handed his handwritten page to the Director, who read the provided announcement text with astonishment. With the Office floor cleared out for Fahenti’s arrival, the Director did not even know until now that there was another Palace visitor in Fahenti’s shuttle.

The Emperor told the Director to not bother with its usual formal rewriting of the announcement. Because of its importance, it was to be released immediately after this meeting.

The Emperor ordered that the wedding ceremony itself would be short and simple. He answered a few simple questions, then indicated his annoyance when the topic of flowers was brought up. He brusquely told the Director to have the Publicity Department make something that would be fast to get through, but look nice enough to satisfy the people.

The Director was told he could wait to see what the Empress looked like along with everyone else, tomorrow morning. The Emperor then dismissed the Director.

The Emperor next ordered that his best civil defense GAR-rifle operator, whoever that might be, should be sent at once to the Office, bringing with him the largest type of shoulder-mountable GAR rifle. It was not unusual for weapons systems to be reviewed by the Emperor and Fahenti.

When the soldier arrived, he found two military leaders in the room who were very familiar to him, although he had not ever had the great fortune to meet in person either his Emperor or Fahenti. Also in the room was an astounding naked young woman.

Ten minutes later, the soldier left the Office, his face an ashy pale, his hair matted with sweat, a stain at his pants. What was left of the rifle got left behind in the Office. It was no problem for him to agree to tell nobody of what he had just learned.

The Emperor ordered that he needed a large tripod-mount GAR rifle to be positioned in the Throne Room for the wedding, close to the Grand Balcony so it could be wheeled either inside or outside. This particular soldier was to man it, to deter any potential interference with the event. This kind of security measure was not a surprise from the famously military-minded Emperor.

Evril Fahenti was then told to again leave for his guest quarters, a route down the hall he was already very familiar with. As always, he saw nobody else in the halls. As usual, he was ordered to not communicate with anyone during his Palace stay this night.

He was told that in the morning, he would be provided a wake-up call, breakfast, a fresh uniform, and instructions about where to walk and stand and what to say for the wedding ceremony.

Meet the New Boss

The Throne Room, with its grand skylights, had a set of giant doors out to the Grand Balcony. The deep Balcony spanned the width of the building. It overlooked the Central Plaza of Imperial Glories from the 129th floor of the Palace Tower. The Throne Room, with its adjacent staff workrooms, served as the skyscraper’s penthouse suite.

The Plaza was centered on the Palace Tower. Around it were the towers of some of the main administrative departments. Those buildings were all respectfully no more than two-thirds the height of the Palace. Some of the closest-in towers were those for the Imperial Military, the Treasury and Tribute Department, and other important functions.

One of the skyscrapers had an extremely impressive water feature as part of the architecture. A waterfall splashed from the rooftop platform at the 80th floor, down to a pool at the 59th floor. The pool was far enough in from the edge of the building so that only a little bit of mist sprayed past the building. Benches by the pool let the senior administrators enjoy their lunches near the waterfall pool.

Opposite the giant buildings, the other side of the Plaza ended with the retaining wall for the hillside of the Imperial Forest.

There were large video cameras with operators at the very back of the Plaza, below the retaining wall; and in some of the giant buildings near the Palace Tower; and on some hundred foot high scaffolding towers dotting the Plaza. The cameras all had very long lenses that could zoom out to show an overview of the Plaza, or zoom way in to show a smaller group of people.

Inside the Throne Room, and outside, at each outer corner of the Grand Balcony, were additional cameras with operators.

At the only place where anyone was expected to speak during the brief wedding ceremony, sound would come from the Announcement Poles in the Throne Room to pick up the highest quality close up coverage of the sound. These six foot long Poles didn’t need operators, as they worked by the person simply talking while near the Pole, so it could pick up the sound.

Cameras and Poles both were battery powered and wireless. Another Pole outside, tied on one of the camera towers, would pick up the roaring cheers of the crowd for the viewing audience at home.

The Plaza was full, with the maximum 117,000 people gathered, as usual watching the big screen installed outside floors 16 through 28 of the Palace Tower.

The demand to get a glimpse of the Emperor in person was always far greater than the number of people the Plaza could hold. Attendance at the Plaza for an Imperial announcement was granted by an online lottery. The lottery was held anew for each appearance, to give as many citizens as possible a chance to proudly tell everyone they had seen the Emperor with their own eyes. Even if he was just a small dot way up there from ground level, it mattered to be part of the crowd who was there with him.

Alternate color paving divided the Plaza into 117 sections which each held 1,000 people to stand and look up at the big screen and the Balcony. Winning lottery tickets told the winners where to stand. Aisles also marked by the paving pattern provided walkways between the sections.

Of course the rest of the Empire was gathered at their work places or homes, watching the broadcast.

In the absence of any further details, everyone expected that the newly married couple would walk out to the balcony, wave for a moment at the crowds so far below, then walk back inside and that would be the end of the live coverage. Thus the Balcony had no Announcement Poles, but there was the camera at each side on the Balcony.

Poles would have been waiting on the Balcony if the agenda included a speech by the Emperor. But that wasn’t part of the plan the broadcast crews and general public alike had only learned about when the wedding was announced less than twelve hours ago, last night!

Nobody had ever heard of Annabeth Lessian or Velorian Protectors before, of course. And there had not been a picture included with the brief and utterly surprising announcement.

The people had known that if the Emperor ever did marry, he would pick a young and strong woman as physically remarkable as he was. They also expected that she would have quite the elaborate gown and jewelry and hairstyle.

There were no announcers for the Imperial Wedding. At the appointed time, the Publicity Director, standing at the back of the Throne Room, looked into a camera and simply said, “People of the Empire, behold the wedding of your Emperor.” He then stepped aside out of the picture.

First the Emperor, and then the bride, stepped out from between the layers of curtains behind the Throne, in the traditional manner. The Emperor wore exceptionally grand new Royal Robes with the most exquisite sections of colorful handcrafted embroidery, and, as always, his sturdy tall black combat boots. The people had expected nothing less.

Now, the people were astonished at how the bride was far beyond their expectations. They admired her beauty, her youth, and her comfortable sense of poise. Despite, to their great surprise, her striding out and standing naked, with a sense of total confidence! The most common guess at her age was nineteen.

She had no jewelry. Her golden hair simply fell down her back to her hips, without even a fancy braid, let alone a collection of jewels and flowers.

The people appreciated her large and lovely breasts, and noticed her complete lack of hair down between her legs.

She was the most beautiful young woman they had ever seen. The people all envied the Emperor’s imperial bedroom time that night!

In the process of Evril Fahenti reciting the Emperor’s many facets of rulership, and then the exchanging of the vows, nobody made any mention of the new Empress’s nakedness.

The wedding did not include any extra speeches. The people were surprised at how short the wedding ceremony was.

As expected, as soon as the brief wedding ceremony was concluded, the newlyweds then held hands and strolled out to the Grand Balcony.

Of course, as expected, on the way out of the Throne Room to the Balcony, the Emperor picked up the Diadem Representing Imperial Might and carried it with him. In a surprising moment, the new Empress snatched up one of the Poles and carried it with her, like a mirror image of the Diadem. The way the sound capture technology worked had been explained to her the night before.

The Empress let go of the Emperor’s hand. She faced forward, looking out over the wide stone railing at the front edge of the balcony. She spoke into the Pole, and her amplified sound came from the giant screen to all in the Plaza and all watching at home and work. “People of the Empire! It feels nice to be your new Empress.”

The crowd roared! She had to wait a moment before saying anything more.

She said, “Now, watch carefully and pay attention for my first official act, which will let you get to know me a little better.”

Everyone was deeply shocked as she suddenly jumped up onto the balcony railing, carrying her Pole, and then ran forward and leapt off of the edge! They were terrified and dismayed that on the same day, the Emperor would become a newlywed and now a widower! Yet the Emperor’s expression seemed more of curiosity than of shock as she arced out above the middle of the Plaza, just before they would see her fall to her doom!

She went up and out… and, impossibly, stayed in the air right there!

She talked into the Pole, her voice booming out from the screen far below into the Plaza, just as the gathered crowd had clearly heard all that was said at the brief wedding. Now, as she floated in place over the middle of the Plaza, she said, “People of the Empire, your Empress can fly.”

After a moment of silence, there were cheers of profound, astonished delight!

She turned in the air to face back to the Balcony. She gave a big wave with her arm wide out. The Emperor gave a little wave back at her, from the wrist.

Another shocking moment now happened. While the Emperor continued with his usual expression of mild interest, the way he looked just about any time the public saw him, a soldier strode out of the Throne Room pushing a heavy-duty metal tripod on wheels. On top of the tripod was a GAR rifle too big to be fired from even a strong shoulder. If fired down at the Plaza, this size of GAR would cut a crater that left a few hundred people dead.

The soldier stopped right next to the Emperor, and locked the wheels of the tripod. As the Emperor looked on blandly from right beside the soldier, easily close enough to beat up the soldier, the soldier started up the GAR. As the weapon’s whine cycled up to its highest pitch, the soldier aimed it right at the Empress! Then the soldier pulled the trigger!

The crowd gazed in shocked silence as the laser hit their new Empress right between the legs.

Somehow it didn’t seem to have any effect on her! It didn’t even push her out of her position in the air! Then after the ninth agonizing second, the quick series of thumps and flashes announced the antimatter pellets. The beam stopped. The weapon’s barrel glow faded away.

The Empress, unharmed, stayed in place in the air, as her breasts grew larger and glowed brightly!

She said into the Pole, “People of the Empire, your Empress is invulnerable.”

After a moment, the amazed crowd realized she was still alive up there, and cheered all the more!

She gestured for them to get quiet.

She turned to face the soldier who had just fired on her. Holding the Pole so all could hear her, she said, “Soldier, you did well at the assignment I gave you which you thought would result in your execution. I appreciate your loyalty in the face of what must have been an impossible to understand order, when your Empress insisted. I am now doubling your pay and your pension and your family benefits. Now, Throne Room staff, bring another Announcement Pole out to the Balcony and place it between my husband and this solder.”

A staff person quickly ran out with a Pole and positioned it, bowing deeply.

The Empress said, “Thank you, Staffer. Wait there a moment. Soldier, did we discuss anything about numbers?”

Confused, the soldier said, “No, my Empress. Your servant doesn’t understand what you mean.”

His contradiction-addled mind was still trying to figure out how a direct hit only made the target bigger and brighter. He couldn’t believe what he saw with the smaller rifle she destroyed last night, and he couldn’t believe how this one left the target still… not standing… well, standing… but on nothing… Not at all dead. Also, not at all very much exploded into pieces shoved all the way down until they were etched into the Forest’s retaining wall, like he expected.

She said, “Very well. Pick a number between one and a thousand. Tell me what is.”

“Uh, 572, my Empress.”

“Nicely done. Staffer, have you and I discussed numbers? Or told you what to say at this time?”

The staffer said, “No, my Empress. You have not graced your humble servant with any communication or instruction at all before now.”

“Indeed not. Staffer, pick a number between 1 and 117, and tell me now what it is.”

“39, my Empress.”

“Thank you, Staffer. Soldier, stay there. Staffer, go back in to the Throne Room now.” The staffer did so.

The Empress’s breast glow faded away, but her breasts still retained their increased size from after the GAR’s direct hit on her. She looked down at the Plaza. “Section 39, where is that? Let me know who’s there.”

A group of a thousand people waved and cheered. They were too far away for anything but an overall roar to be picked up by the outside Pole on one of the camera towers, a thousand feet below her and a hundred feet above the crowd.

The Empress said, “Put your arms down. Person 572 in that section, wave to me now with both arms.”

A plainly dressed middle-aged woman, astonished to be singled out of the crowd this way, did so. Looking up, the woman’s eyes could just barely make out the Empress up in the sky, while also seeing the enlarged view of the Empress on the giant screen. The screen split to also show the woman on the ground, looking up.

The Empress said, “I am going to ask you some things, Ma’am. As you are too far away for a Pole to hear you individually, wave one arm for No, both arms for Yes. Do you understand?”

The woman waved both arms.

“The young man next to you, is that your son?”

The teenager next to her was excited, as his mother waved both arms.

“Is he good at telling jokes?”

The woman again waved both arms.

“Son of the woman at 572, is there a short but funny joke you have never told your Mother?”

The young man waved with both arms.

The Empress said, “Not yet, but in a moment, I will want you to whisper that joke to your Mother. But wait until I tell you. Now, everyone else in the Plaza outside of section 39, I want you to yell and holler as loud as you can for a while. Do that now, please.”

There was an enormous racket. The Empress said, “572’s son! Whisper the joke to your mother now!”

The young man did so, but it was difficult for his Mother to get all the words. She got enough to laugh at what she thought the joke was probably about.

The Empress was laughing as she said, “Now, be quiet everyone! Young man! Four camels in the tent at once! That is quite a naughty joke for your Mother! I like your sense of humor!”

Everyone stared up. The Empress said, “People of the Empire, your Empress hears a great deal. I would like to hear you speaking in a respectful and complimentary way of your Emperor. Now, Mother at position 572. Oh, Lateesha, that’s a pretty name. In your purse, you have coins totaling 255 units. It’s hard to put a price on a camel joke like that, but I think 255 is a fair price for such entertainment value from your son, don’t you? Pay him for his joke, please, the price on that today is 255 units. A bargain at less than 60 units per funny camel.”

The woman, as everyone else, was utterly speechless. Lateesha reached into her purse and pulled out all the money in it, which to her surprise was indeed 255 units in all. She handed the pile to her son, who stuffed the coins into the pocket of his tunic.

The Empress said, “Young man, in the pocket on your other side, you have a picture of a lovely young woman. As before, wave your arm once for no, twice for yes. Is that your sister?” One wave. “Another relative?” One wave. “Just a friend?” One wave. “Your beloved?” Two waves.

The Empress said, “Does she happen to have something she likes that costs more than 100 units?” Two waves. The Empress said, “You’re 255 units richer today. When you leave the Plaza today, treat her to something nice.”

The crowd cheered.

The Empress turned back to face the Balcony. “Emperor honey, I assume we have some kind of Imperial Archives or Library?”

He said, “Yes, my Empress. Its headquarters are three buildings to your right, the one with the green glass…” he pointed, “on its 45th floor, the row with the clear windows across the front.”

She looked to the building, then flew over and down to hover in front of the 45th floor, with its floor to ceiling windows to the offices. She said, so the Pole could hear, “Hello in there. Is there an Archivist or Librarian on duty near the window?… Ah, thank you.

“Do you happen to have some books about camels and tents? Not joke books, just informational or narrative… Good. Is there a particularly famous such book? … Good. Do you have a copy there?… Splendid. Have one of your colleagues get it and bring it to you now. Oh, popular enough to have in one’s work cabinet back in the inner office! Well with a title like Moonlight, Oasis, and Wine, I can only imagine why. I would like to find out what Poet Spa’Hali had to say on the subject…”

To Annabeth’s surprise, the crowd cheered loudly.

The colleague stepped out of the inner office and handed the book to the librarian already standing by the window. Annabeth said, “Hold the book up facing the window. It sounds like a good place to start reading some of your literature. Oh my! That bit with the water jug woman on page 138 seems quite exciting! Deliver that book to the Palace for me now, I wish that copy to be mine. Then return to your duties.”

She wasn’t quite sure why the crowd made another enormous happy cheer, but she let them do so!

She looked down at the crowd. “People of the Empire, your Empress also sees much, and naught is hidden from my gaze if I so choose. As I gaze around my Empire, I would like to behold you including such literary endeavors as a portion of your daily lives, if you are not already doing so.”

Again, she had to pause for another great cheer of acclaim that she hadn’t expected at this point in her plans.

She flew up to face the Grand Balcony again, staying in place in the air just above and outside the railing. She said, “Soldier, if you were to remove this weapon’s power supply, would it then be useless as a weapon?”

He said, “Yes, my Empress. The laser generator and antimatter dispenser are in the power pack.”

“Do you need tools to disassemble that?”

“No, my Empress. These are designed for quick swaps in battle, if needed.”

“I suppose that means you could fire as many times as one battery pack could provide, then swap for another and keep on shooting before the first is recharged.”

“You are tactically astute, my Empress.”

“Remove the power supply now. Just set it down beside you on the Balcony for now.”

He popped loose some catches, slid some levers, unplugged some cords, and pulled out the big box. Using both hands, he set the heavy box on the Balcony. What was left looked not much more impressive than a hunting rifle on a big heavy tripod.

She said, “The remaining tube has no residual radiation or anything harmful? Tell me about whether this is an issue in your work.”

He said, “Actually, my Empress, the tube is so radioactive hot right after firing that to prevent blistering radiation burns, it should only be handled using heavy gloves. We use those in artillery maneuvers, if we don’t have a wheeled tripod like this one.”

“Soldier, would it be safe to hand hold the weapon now?”

“No, my Empress. Although the weapon is no longer glowing, it is still dangerous. It will need another hour for the remaining heat and radiation to dissipate before it can be safely touched without gloves. Even then, an artillery crew would need face masks to protect them from inhaling any radioactive particles as the tube gets moved. A few seconds exposure is not a problem, but over hours of carrying, it is harmful. That is why between maneuvers we put the gun into a safety crate, like the one you ordered to be put on the other side of the Balcony.”

He gestured to one side of the Balcony, where there was an open metal crate, six feet on a side and four feet high, with its lid leaned up against it. There was a handle on each side of the heavy lid for a two-soldier crew to lift it into place. The even heavier crate had carrying handles all the way around, so that several strong soldiers could pick it up from any angle. The crate was labeled with radiation warnings.

“What would happen to the crew if they were exposed to handle that radioactive weapon and have to put their face next to it to breathe in its dust, just minutes after it was fired?”

“They would need to immediately immerse their hands in anti-radiation safety gel, as in the box you instructed to be placed on the side of the balcony over there, my Empress. If any of the radioactive metal flakes from the barrel got into their mouth, it would be instantly fatal.”

He gestured again to the hand sink sized, open plastic tub of gel sitting on the Balcony next to the metal crate. The gel box had handles on each side, with a couple of hand towels hanging from one handle.

“If you didn’t have the wheels, how many soldiers would be needed to carry this unit into position on a battlefield, with their shielded face masks and safety gloves?”

“Usually three, my Empress. Four if the ground was very steep or marshy.”

“Very well. You are quite an informative Soldier. I appreciate that.” She floated down to stand on top of the railing. She handed the Pole to the Emperor and said, “Hold my pole here, honey.” He took it. She hopped down to stand on the Balcony.

She put out one hand to the center of the gun tripod, easily picked up the tripod and its attached rifle, and tossed the assembly ten feet up. As it came back down, she reached out her pinky to the base of the tripod and held it up over her head, balanced on the fingertip. The crowd gasped.

She carried it over her head, as she strutted about twenty feet along the length of the balcony, swaying her hips as she walked over to side of the Balcony, where the open crate and the open plastic tub of safety gel were on the Balcony.

With one hand, she lightly set down the tripod on the Balcony, positioned over the crate. She leaned over to put her face next to the gun. She bit off the last inch of the gun barrel, and chewed and swallowed the chunk of metal.

The crowd stared speechless.

She stood back up. She reached her arms out to the tripod. She pulled the tripod legs together, continued squeezing, and with a loud pop the tripod crumbled into dust that fell into the crate. As the now unsupported rifle started to drop down, she quickly grabbed it out of the air with one hand around the end of barrel, its most imbalanced spot.

She reached out her other hand to pull the other end of the barrel. She bent the metal tube back until it snapped in two. She broke off the handle assembly and made a sandwich of it between the two halves of the barrel. She squeezed the pieces all together until they all smashed into bits in the crate, leaving metal dust fragments all over her hands.

With one hand, she picked up the lid for the crate and set it in place. She squeezed her hands around the rim. The metal glowed red hot and then quickly cooled, with the crate now welded shut by the pressure of her squeezes.

She put one hand in her mouth and licked some of the dust off her fingers with a smile. She used her other hand to push open her pussy lips and slide some of the metal dust inside.

She stood directly over the tub of safety gel and looked down. She opened her mouth wide. The tub of safety gel floated up to the height of her hands. The towel fluttered in the updraft breeze she was creating with her nonstop powerful breath in.

She dunked her hands into the small tub of safety gel to remove the rest of the dust, and used the adjacent hand towel to wipe her hands clean. She also used the towel to scoop up some of the gel and rub it over her labia. She ran the dry part of the towel between her legs to dry herself off down there. She put the towel back around the handle. The tub floated back down to the Balcony as she gently stopped breathing in. She finally closed her mouth.

She skipped back to the flabbergasted soldier and the still blank-faced Emperor. She reached out to take the Pole back.

She said, “Soldier, take that power unit back inside and return to your normal duties. I’ll have a Throne Room staffer retrieve the boxes after I’m all done here this morning. Is the power unit too heavy for one man to carry?”

He said, “No, my Empress. It is designed to be just within what one soldier can carry.”

She said, “Very well. Thank you for your help with my presentation. Now it’s time to take your power unit and run back inside.” She reached down and with one finger, picked up the power unit by its strap. With a flick of her finger, she tossed it over to him. With both hands, he caught it and was knocked back a step by the heavy blow. Huffing and puffing, he waddled with his heavy load into the building.

She looked out over the railing to the crowd and said, “People of the Empire, your Empress is strong.”

The crowd cheered.

She turned to the Emperor. “Now, Emperor dear, in the Imperial Forest a bit behind the Plaza, there is that hundred foot boulder. Does that have any particular importance or meaning? Is it symbolic, a place for people to gather, part of the water supply, any such thing?”

The Emperor said, “No, my Empress. It is just a big piece of rock that happens to be there. It has no meaning or value.”

She said, “If it was no longer there, would anyone miss it? Would its absence hinder the forest ecology?”

He said, “No, my Empress.”

She said, “Very well. Hold this again.” She handed the Pole to him.

She flew up and over the Balcony railing, over the Plaza and past its outer edge, over the Forest, then dropped down to the ground. She was lost from view of the cameras when she went below the tree tops.

Then the hundred foot rock came up into the air. The cameras soon picked up that she was rising up in the air too, well below the rock, breathing out nonstop to create a wind that pushed it up. She closed her mouth and reached out her hand. She now held the boulder up by one fingertip, as she soared up higher.

When she was a few hundred feet up, with a flick of her wrist she tossed the rock up another hundred feet, while she hovered in place and looked up at it. Her eyes glowed red hot and bright. Red beams came out of her eyes and hit the bottom of the boulder. The rock glowed red and then exploded into dust that fell on her and around her.

There was only one solid chunk of rock left, from the center of the original boulder, a red-hot glowing lava chunk as large as her hand. Small liquid streams of lava flowed around the rock’s still solid core. As that small rock fell, she caught it in her hand and ate it, just like eating a caramel apple. She licked the last of the molten rock off her hands.

Her eyes still red hot, she brushed the rock dust off of her hair and skin and flew back up over the center of the Plaza, a bit higher than the pinnacle spire of the Palace’s Throne Room skylights. Looking down at them all with her still glowing red eyes, this time she spoke without using a Pole. Her voice boomed deep and so loud so that the over 100,000 people a quarter mile down all heard clearly as she said, “People of the Empire, your Empress can fight and win her own battles.”

Everyone was silent, in shock. She let them think about that for a moment, as the rumbling echo rolled between the skyscrapers and dissipated out to the forest hillside.

She flew back to the Balcony and gestured for the Pole to be held out towards her again. She smiled as she talked again at a normal, possible volume. Her eyes returned to normal. She said, “Now, that’s a bit dusty, but easy enough to fix.”

She flew over to the waterfall building’s 75th floor level and into the waterfall, letting it wash off all the remaining rock dust residue. As she looked straight up, she opened her mouth to take in some of the water.

She leaned her mouth out of the water flow, still looking straight up. She blew the water out as a fountain that went straight up the equivalent of another fifty stories. The column of water stayed in place in the air for several seconds, then evaporated rather than coming back down.

She flew away from the waterfall a bit and blasted cold breath at it. The entire waterfall froze into a solid sheet of ice. This blocked any more water from coming out of the pipes at the top of the waterfall feature. Then her heat vision hit the ice and it instantly boiled off as steam. With the ice blockage gone, the flow of the waterfall resumed.

She flew back in to the midst of the water. She pulled her hair in front of her and held it out to wash it free of dust too. Her eyes returned again to normal. Her wet hair was plastered against her breasts and down to her hips as she flew back to the Balcony.

She again took the Pole in her hand, and landed on top of the balcony railing, at its very front edge. The heels of her feet were right on the front corner. She was imbalanced enough that anyone else would have fallen off, but she stood there straight up, as water dripped off her hair and body. It wasn’t just from the waterfall; she was starting to get visibly wet and aroused below. She held the Pole in front of her with one hand, and lightly rubbed between her legs in small circles with her other hand.

She said into the Pole, “People of the Empire! Your Empress is about to join her Emperor for some family time now. I will return here in exactly six hours to address you again. I wish a fresh lottery to be held, so that more citizens may see us in person.

“And I have a request. Here in the Plaza and also all around the world, I wish my citizens to demonstrate their skills at photography and data analysis. There will be more for you to see than just now,as you learn more about your Empress.”

She was wet enough now that with her lower hand, her finger slipped slightly inside her. “Bring your handheld cameras and astrotelemetry recorders, if you have any, to the Plaza if you are a lucky lottery winner this afternoon. Have them ready for use for an assignment I will have for you when I address you at that time.

“For those not at the Plaza, if you have high quality cameras and telemetry data recorders, have them at the ready for what I will explain to you this afternoon.

“After this afternoon’s talk with you and my activities at that time, you will then send the best of the best of your photos or recordings, only one per person, to the Palace staff by midnight tonight, Palace time. If you happen to have taken any pictures just now, those would also be eligible. But again, pick only your one personal best shot of the day. Tomorrow morning, I will announce the winners.”

Another finger slid in as she continued her circular rubbing.

“Tomorrow evening, the winners will be present here on the Balcony with me, all expenses paid for the military to bring them here by fastest VIP shuttles, for me to provide the winners their reward. They will then stay at the Palace guest rooms overnight, and before they go home the next day, the Publicity Director will give them a personal tour of some little known interesting facts about the Plaza.”

The Publicity Director’s face turned white. Then he remember that he actually did know a lot of little known interesting facts about the Plaza. He started to breathe again as his Empress continued.

“Also this afternoon, I wish all military and civilian units near the wormhole, and along the route between the wormhole and the Palace, to be ready to do some astronomy photography and telemetry. You will learn at that time how I will wish you to document the entire span of space between the Palace Planet here and the wormhole. That documentation will also be eligible, if it happens to be your best photograph or data set of the day. But don’t try to second guess that now. Just get into position if you are able to do so without disturbing your other duties of the day.”

She took her hand out and licked her fingers. There was not any metal dust.

“Thank you for your close attention and participation with your Empress. It is now time for me to have some private time with my new husband. Before we go back in to the Throne Room, what do you have to say to your Empress?”

The cheers were deafening.

Midday Talk Time

The people were excited! No wonder the lifelong bachelor Emperor would want to marry someone impossible like that, clearly the only woman on the planet who could keep up with him sexually, and to use her power to expand the glories of the Empire!

If that’s what people on the system across the wormhole could do, what a wonderful addition to make the Empire’s further glorious progress even more unstoppable! What a grand success for Evril Fahenti to have brought her here! A real triumph of gunship diplomacy!

If she hadn’t hitched up with the Emperor, wouldn’t it be so great to fuck her? Are there more like her who are available? The people’s inquiring minds wanted to know! They hoped to learn the answers soon.

The people wondered if maybe the Emperor also had all these same abilities all along? Perhaps he could do also all these amazing things as her, and had hid them for strategic purposes, and waited until he found an equally powerful woman before he became willing to marry. That theory would certainly help explain his unbroken string of victories, and his immediate decision to marry once he finally found someone who was truly his equal!

The woman at spot 572, Lateesha, and her son were briefly interviewed on the noon news. Lateesha had given her name to enter the Plaza standing room lottery, of course, but was as amazed as everyone at her being picked out and then greeted by name. Unfortunately, the son’s girlfriend wasn’t able to join them, as she was away at a sports competition all day. The son had a school field trip last week out to the desert, to see the traditional camel caravans. That is where he had heard, directly from the camel drivers, the ancient camel joke whose origins were lost in the mist of time. Neither mother nor son had any prior communication with any Palace officials. Being singled out this way was a great surprise and joy to them.

The son told the full version of the joke. He had such a hilarious style that the news interviewers almost fell off their chairs by the time the third camel showed up at the tent.

The Publicity Director was up next. He was asked about the increasingly popular supposition that the Emperor could do the same amazing things as the Empress.

With his famous perfectly blank expression that revealed nothing, key to his success in this job for so many years now, the Director said, “As you well know, the Palace has no comment on rumors. If there is something your Emperor wishes you to know, about himself or about any other topic, he will announce it properly and in his well-organized, unambiguous communication style to which you’re accustomed. Next question.”

The Publicity Director hadn’t heard this rumor before he was asked just now. Secretly, he was thrilled and excited by the idea! But he knew that if were to ask the Emperor, the Emperor would give him the same scolding about how Imperial communications are direct, not revealed through the rumor mill. And the Emperor would probably not say it in quite so gentle a manner.

The Publicity Director was pleased that the next question was about how well the Emperor’s new Royal Robes for his wedding harmonized with the colors of the flowers at the wedding.

He said that was an excellent, important topic of artistry, well worth detailed discussion. He would bring in the Imperial Seamstress and the Imperial Gardener to discuss that more fully at tomorrow’s noon news, as tonight’s evening news and tomorrow’s morning news would no doubt be entirely taken up by the photography announcements the Empress had indicated she would make.

When he was done with the news interview, he was called to the Imperial Office. The Emperor sat on a couch, and gestured to an armchair for the Publicity Director to sit down. The naked Empress floated above them, as she outlined how the contest entries should be handled.

She told the Publicity Director to expect a very large number of entries, and to have the Publicity Department recruit as many temporary overnight workers as he needed. It was alright if they could not get to every picture tonight, as long as excellent winners could be announced on tomorrow’s morning news. She wanted to be provided the five winning photographs by dawn for her approval. If any displeased her, another of the top runner-up entries would take its place until she was satisfied.

She completed the Publicity Director’s briefing and dismissed him.

Photo Finish

That afternoon as scheduled, the Emperor, in another of his finest multi-layered, colored and textured brand new Royal Robes, and a different new pair of combat boots, stood on the Palace’s Grand Balcony. He overlooked the Central Plaza of Imperial Glories, as he stood hand in hand with the new Empress. She was still naked but with her hair dry now, as it spilled around her shoulders.

The Plaza was again full, and of course the rest of the Empire all watched on video, as they had for the Imperial Wedding a few hours ago. A Pole was positioned on the Balcony for the Imperial Couple’s announcements.

The Emperor said, “My people of the Empire, I have enjoyed a long, interesting career of expanding the Empire’s domain.”

The people cheered!

He let go of Annabeth, held out his hands, and flexed his fingers. “With ten wormholes now conquered, or rather, nine conquered and the newest united, I feel that it is a nice time for me to retire for my studies and pursuits. Your Empress Annabeth Lessian is now the political ruler of the Empire. I look forward to whatever changes she might like to make to further improve the direction of our glorious future. As you saw this morning, I could not ask for a better successor who is so well equipped to continue all victories.

“I will assist in whatever administrative coordination she might wish of me, as she becomes more familiar with all our Empire has for to rule and enjoy. Join me now, my people. Long live the Empress! Long live the Empress!”

Before the cheers really got going, Annabeth Lessian said to him, loudly so the Pole carried it to the audience, “Hold that thought, honey, you and I will talk about it some more when I’m back tonight. But first, I’ve got a little something to see about.”

She looked back out to the crowd. She said, “People of the Empire, your Empress would appreciate your providing complete coverage to document my trip to the wormhole this afternoon, and then back here four hours later this evening. Cameras and detailed scientific measurements would be most welcome. Remember, send your best photographs and data sets to the Palace Publicity Director tonight, and I will provide a pleasant surprise for the best photographers and data scientists tomorrow night. Those of you in the Plaza now, after I leave you are free to go and you will get your place back, as long as you return here within three and a half hours.”

They didn’t understand what she was saying. It took at least twelve hours at emergency top speed for a military warship to get to the wormhole, another twelve for the return. When not in an urgent hurry worth stressing main engines to their limit, the trip took half a week each direction, even in the top classes of warship.

Everyone knew this. The Empress had to know this, too. After all, when she and Fahenti were brought to their meeting with the Emperor yesterday, they would have had one of these twelve hour rides from the wormhole at the outer edge of the solar system.

The military and the Palace staff both anxiously worried that they hadn’t been told of her plan. They had no spaceship immediately available for their Empress! Given this morning’s demonstrations, they started wondering in what cruel nightmare of hateful loss their lives would be brought to an end, for their failure to serve the Empress.

For the first time today, the Emperor had an emotional expression. He looked to be as baffled by all of this as everyone else.

She spoke to him, plenty loud enough for the Pole to pick up. “Emperor honey, when I leave the Balcony in a moment, you can go on in. Be back at the Throne Room three minutes before sunset, for me to rejoin you then.”

She looked out to the crowd as she said, “I imagine the military and the Palace staff might both be worried right now, as nobody told them I’d need a spaceship this evening.”

She waited a moment, enjoying the silence. Everyone wondered about this very point, and also about her obvious misunderstanding about travel time to the farthest outer reaches of the solar system. Perhaps the Emperor would say something to gently correct her confusion. What marvelously kind empathy their Emperor had, to reflect on his face the worry and uncertainty of his people!

She then said, “That’s because I hadn’t asked for a spaceship. People of the Empire, your Empress don’t need one to go wherever she pleases.”

She floated up off the balcony and flew into the sky. She flew around the planet a few times at different angles, to give plenty of people on each continent opportunities to get good pictures. After an hour, she flew out of the atmosphere.

She flew to the sun’s corona at 0.97 C, reaching it in twelve minutes. She spent a few minutes swimming through its flames to warm her up. Her breasts expanded, and glowed bright from within.

She left the sun, and flew past the Palace Planet as a bright streak across the sky and in front of the Moon. She playfully arced between some battleships in higher orbit, then accelerated to 0.98 C. She reached the wormhole in fifteen minutes, instantly slowed to 0.4 C as needed for wormhole entry, and dove right into it.

Four hours later she flew back out of the wormhole, again with her breasts large and bright. This time, as she popped out, she had one hand behind her to hold onto a Vandorian steel bar, where O’r’s tug had latched on to put the flagship into orbit at Jus Kadeen. The bar was welded to the front of the Glorious Hostilities, which she now towed through the wormhole by her pinky finger around the bar, without any effort or strain to her.

There was nobody on board the flagship. It was completely shut down. It had extensive damage, with the big crater that made a chunk of the nose missing in front of the bridge. Extra metal plates had been welded as another layer on top of the bridge window shutters. The main engines were completely dead, with not even the usual hum and faint glow of standby. Not even the navigation lights were on.

She continued to effortlessly tow the mile-long ship behind her, as she flew back to the Palace Planet, this time holding to the flagship’s top speed of 0.72 C. She used one hand, with all her fingers on the bar only for stability’s sake when she made a turn. On the straight line parts of the trip, she alternated a single finger or her thumb hooked around the tow bar.

At the planet, she let go. She flew around behind the giant ship, and then lightly gave a little push with one palm to put the flagship precisely into synchronous orbit over the Palace complex, right next to Captain Barnes's ship.

She flew around the world three more times for her publicity purposes, then landed on the Grand Balcony right at sunset. She strolled back into the Palace’s Throne Room to greet the Emperor for their evening.

It was the best documented journey in the entire history of the Empire.

Evening Assignment

She ordered that repair crews should gather and work promptly on the flagship. They should fix it to pristine condition. They should not discuss their work with anyone not directly involved.

She also ordered that questions for her or Evril Fahenti, or remarks to anyone about the flagship’s condition would be considered impertinent. All that mattered was its full restoration, with quality the first priority. And then, yes, speed mattered, but not at the expense of engineering excellence.

The ship’s primary weapon was to be cleared of debris, but otherwise not included in the repairs. She would have a statement at a later date about the ship-length GAR, the mile long structural and military foundation for the bottom of the flagship.

As soon as the Bridge deck and the Captain’s Quarters were completely intact and life support was operational, Captain Evril Fahenti would live on board the flagship to supervise the repairs in person. Once the ship’s dormitories and mess hall were completely intact, the repair crews would also live on board under the Captain’s supervision. Operational command of the maintenance brigades were transferred to the Captain’s personal authority, for the duration of the project.

During the repair effort, as he would not need to coordinate with other ships, Captain Evril Fahenti would take a break from his Admiral duties. The secondary Admirals would appoint a temporary joint committee of their members, to coordinate the rest of the fleet and report to their Empress.

This completed the announcement the Publicity Director released on a rush basis shortly before midnight, between supervising the temporary workers sorting the massive flood of astonishing photos and data sets arriving for her contest.

This time, the Publicity Director’s announcement was complete with visual interest, the way he liked it. He was able to include an excellent collection of photos, of the Empress effortlessly pulling along the flagship of her fleet, at its top speed, by one hand.

An immediate group of night shift military construction engineers went to the flagship to start the repair project. When the workers arrived, they found that all the ship’s logs and recorders only went up to the ship’s imminent entry to the wormhole two days ago. There was nothing about their trip through it, or anything more recent. All personal effects of the officers and crew were gone from their quarters.

While repair crews gathered in orbit, and the Publicist was extremely busy, meanwhile in the Palace’s Imperial Apartment – which spanned the entire 128th floor - the Empress put on a gold necklace. She had some more personal time to get to enjoy the Emperor’s rather impressive and useful body.

It’s amazing what a lifetime of the harshest hand to hand ruthless combat training will do, to help a man be more appealing for his date night with a Velorian Protector.

Afterwards, she had him take a seat on the couch, as she finished explaining to him how things were going to work around here.

CONTINUED IN PART 5!

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