In the throne room the Emperor turned his attention from one holoscreen to the next, observing tactical communication feeds from throughout the Empire. “Commander, I am now going into full immersion.
“Understood, your Highness.”
The throne room of the Khallad was a study in austere opulence. It was at the heart of the ship, but the walls were lined with holopanels, able to display whatever view the Emperor deemed fit. There were also large columns of pure ascerium lining the aisle in the center of the room. The columns formed a path to the throne. The Emperor’s attendants were situated at stations and sitting areas throughout. Members of the Imperial Guard stood in the shadows, ever vigilant.
Kdifoc sat on the throne, a smile spread across his face. He was relishing this moment, and wanted to experience some of the results firsthand. He leaned his head back, as interface nodes extended from his chair. They touched the back of his head and began to glow a light blue. Suddenly, the Emperor was many places at once.
On the bridge of the Khallad a very real looking Emperor Kdifoc appeared just to the left of Commander Vardakos’s chair.
“Your Highness,” said the Commander, bowing his head.
“Commander, disposition of the system?”
The Emperor smiled. “Not so strange, Commander. They know they have been discovered. At this moment, they are discussing survival.”
The part of the Emperor’s mind that was standing on the command bridge imagined the Harvarian and their compatriots, arrayed around a table in their situation room, trying to figure out how this had happened. How was it the Emperor came to be on their doorstep, with the might of the Guard Fleet at hand? They had to know their destruction was imminent.
“Filter the incoming hyperspace comm traffic Commander, just as we planned.”
“Comman,” said the Commander. “Filter protocol. Harvarian Column traffic.”
Another part of the Emperor’s mind listened to what transpired on the bridge, and applauded his cunning. He would allow the Harvarians to know the fear of genocide before this day was done.
Back on the Imperial Throneworld of Zkrdah, a holographic avatar of the Emperor appeared just outside the quarters of the Harvarian representative to the Klaksory. The Harvarian were a powerful force in the Empire. The opulence of the residence, which revealed how the Harvarian revered beauty, was evidence of their power as a species. The revelation of their deceit was a severe blow to the Emperor’s pride. He took it personally. However, upon reflection he was absolutely amazed at their astounding collective deviousness as a species. For generations they had successfully executed a delicate balance between loyalty and treachery, maintaining perception, and wielding power for, and against him. At one time, the Emperor believed the Harvarian to be above reproach.
The avatar Emperor walked through the front door of hereditary Klaksor Ahmbien. The Klaksor was sitting at a viewer, looking over incoming reports. He appeared nervous. The Emperor stood silent, watching. After a few moments, the Klaksor noticed the Emperor. He turned to face him.
“Honorable Klaksor Ahmbien,” said the Emporeror, formally addressing the Harvarian. “Hereditary representative of the Havarian sector to the Imperial Klaksory of the Zradgen Galactic Empire. If it pleases you, I salute you.”
The Emperor bowed. The Harvarian’s eyes bulged out in complete astonishment. The Emperor bowed to no one.
“You appear shocked, esteemed Klaksor. Have you nothing to say?”
Klaksor Ahmbien seemed to find his nerve. He held his head high, and looked directly at the Emperor.
“I have plenty to say, Emperor, but I will not waste my words on you. What you and your kind have done to this galaxy is an abomination. You will pay for your sins.”
Kdifoc laughed. “Pay for my sins? Pay for my sins you say? Amusing. You will never know how much you amuse me Klaksor Ahmbien. Yes, amusing indeed.
“You may find it amusing now, Kdifoc. However, I assure you, in time the humor will fade.”
Kdifoc shrugged. “Perhaps. However, it will not be by you and yours.”
“The destruction of Harfi will not stop us.”
“Plans within plans, Klaksor. I have seen into yours. You cannot say the same.”
“We know about The Rite of Atmos. We also know that old crackpot wizard will never succeed. The Rite is lost to the ages. You will never become a god Kdifoc. You are destined for dust.”
The Emperor hid his shock. Again, the Harvarian had surprised him. “You know nothing, Harvarian.”
“I know a great deal, Zradgen. We are many.”
“Soon to be only a handful.”
The Klaksor paused, considering the Emperor’s words.
“You stand silent. Allow me to show you something.”
Next to the avatar of the Emperor a holographic battery of screens appeared. On each was an image of horror. Havarian were being slaughtered throughout the Empire. Prominent sentients were assassinated, families murdered, whole communities annihilated. Some, strangely enough, just seemed to drop dead.
“I have been planning this for some time,” said Kdifoc, as an evil smile spread across his face. “Since I first learned of your treachery I have been cultivating an appropriate response. I believe nothing less than total genocide to be your just reward. Today, Klaksor your kind is being rewarded quite handsomely.”
The Klaksor stumbled backward, grabbing his chest. The color faded from his face as he watched genocide unfold.
“I decided to execute on several fronts, pardon the pun,” said Kdifoc. “This is nothing like the Amengalish genocide. Then, my ancestors blasted entire worlds into atoms. Now do not misunderstand me. Daaneen will suffer a similar fate. However, throughout the Empire I am having your people put to the sword, butchered, atomized, blasted from orbit, and most effectively killed by genetic weapon.” He paused to take in Klaksor Ahmbien’s reaction. “You’re not looking so well Ahmbien. Something wrong?”
“You can’t,” said the Klaksor. “You can’t do this.”
“It is done.”
“It is barbaric!”
“Barbarism simply depends upon your point of view. I am excising a treacherous cancer from my Empire.”
Ahmbien winced. “I thought I understood you, could gauge you, could …”
“You thought you could stop me.”
The Klaksor covered his chest with both his hands, as he fell to his knees. He looked up at the avatar questioningly.
“Yes, Ahmbien. It is the genetic weapon. You are about to die very, very soon.”
The Klaksor looked indignant. “We will not fade.”
“Perhaps not,” said the Emperor. “I cannot reach out to you all. Harvarian have ranged the Majestic far and wide. However, in my domain all that shall remain of you shall be slaves, zoo exhibits of a race destined for oblivion.”
“We will not fade.”
“Go, Klaksor. You have breathed your last. And as you past into dimensions beyond, carry with you the images of your race dying, and know that I have done this to you. I, Emperor Kdifoc The Third, Prophesied ruler of the Universe, and the Hand Above God. Pray you do not know my touch in the hereafter.”
There were tears in the Klaksor’s eyes as he fell to his hands. With his last, he spat at the Emperor. It flew through the avatar harmlessly. The Klaksor fell to the floor dead. His vacant eyes stared up at the instrument of his species’ destruction.
“And so ends the twilight of the Harvarian,” said the Emperor. “The dark doom is all that awaits.”
The avatar and the holographic bank of screens vanished. In the hereditary quarters of the Honorable Klasor Ahmbien, last Harvarian to sit on the Klaksory, all was quiet, save for the soft hum of the ancient viewer against the wall, displaying incoming reports from trusted sources, tallying the long line of dying allies as they marched into shadow.