“Vector. How are our guests doing?”
“Sadly, your Imperial Majesty, Doctor Bolt staged a jailbreak with his assistant and has managed to sabotage our vessels.”
“Expected. But not who I’m referring to,” I said, leaning back in my chair and taking my eyes off the ever-growing list of reports on my terminal. I laid my sights on the skylight and watched the buzzing activities of both the First Fleet and the Neutral endos, going about their day in the Imperial Capital as if there was never a war in the first place. “I’m referring to our guests in blue, the ones who decided to come knocking.”
“Ah, you mean Enigma squad, your Majesty,” Vector replied, making some noise as he shifted his posture on the sofa. “For being a part of the prestige Peacekeepers, I honestly didn’t think they’d be a challenge. But I suppose that’s why they’re now in one of our guest rooms and not executed for the destruction of Borealis station.”
“And you wouldn’t be alive to execute them if you had followed orders.”
“I had work to do! At least I got two replacements to do it.”
“One of whom died, which is half the reason you’ve been demoted.”
“Well, then, at least I’m alive to capture them then.”
“And they’ve been debriefed on what we know?”
“They have. I made sure they know our situation enough to inform their leader.”
“Good,” I looked back down at Vector, his eyes wandering around the sparse brown office. “But until we find a way to get them back to the Kingdom, we’re still stuck here with a war on our hands.”
“I’ll see what I can do, your Majesty.”
“Now then, give me the report.”
“Gladly,” he stood up, walking over and plugging a YOLOL chip into the chip socket on my desk. “The latest report from Yellow Squad has confirmed your suspicion, your Majesty. Ex Republic Senator Pixy is up to something, though we don’t know what. In the past week alone, he has managed to make multiple key deals and earned billions in the process.”
“And I don’t suppose he spent it all on the lottery?”
“We have reason to believe that he’s siphoning his funds to acquire either weapons or materials, though we can’t say for sure. But whatever he has going on, he clearly believes it’s worth selling the location of the Endo’s Will.”
“And what of the state of the Third Republic Task Force?” I asked, scanning through the dense report.
“Initial reports show that they’re in perfect condition. No signs of battle damage or corrosion, which is odd, given how long they’ve been in disuse. For now, we’re preparing an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to make sure it isn’t a trap.”
“Good. Keep me updated on that.”
“As for the Modular Design by Okim,” he paused, switching the YOLOL chip in the chip socket. “We’ve confirmed he is not related to Pixy’s conspiracy, but the designs we’ve received in the trade have shown signs of being tampered with. It’s a clear indication that Pixy is trying to undermine our navy, perhaps even cripple it.”
“Well, that’s why we have the Imperial Support Corp to handle anything that could go wrong.”
“Better to be prepared than leave our pants down, your Majesty.”
"There are no such things as pants, Vector."
“In any case,” he interrupted, sighing. “The situation is under control. Whatever Senator Pixy tries to pull, we’ll be able to weather it.”
“Good,” I leaned back, taking yet another look at the view above. “Being an ex-Senator has its perks, it seems, what with him having the connections to evade the VIS. At the very least, I want you to raise the alert status for the First, Fifth, and Seventh fleet and have the soldiers prepared for an attack. We will not compromise the safety of the Empire at this critical time.”
“Consider it done, your Majesty. If you’ll excuse me-”
“Your Majesty!” an endo said as they burst through the door, rudely walking straight up to my table and ignoring Vector’s now lowered pistol. “We’ve news from our fleets that the Kingdom’s defence line has collapsed. Victory is now in your grasp.”
“You mean rumours, Commander Arnvald,” Vector interrupted, his hands still grasping his weapon. “And if that’s the only thing you want to report, then you can see yourself out for interrupting the Emperor’s meeting.”
“Oh, I do have more information to report,” he replied, not even looking at Vector. “If you’d like to hear them of course, your Majesty.”
“In other circumstances, I wouldn’t, Commander,” I mumbled, glaring at the obnoxious leader of the Fourth Imperial Fleet. Arnvald was a pain, but his skills on the battlefield made him worth keeping around.
“But of course, your Majesty, this is no normal circumstance,” Arnvald said, handing me a YOLOL chip. “Even disregarding the rumours, the fleets are advancing at a steady rate. Our best estimates put us at two weeks before the total capitulation of the Kingdom’s forces.”
“And our worst estimates?”
“Still within the month, your Majesty.”
“Good,” I read through the report, noting the status of the fleets and the positions of our fleets. "Although it'd seem that we'd have to go through Australis station to reach their capital."
“With the number of fleets the Kingdom has,” he started, counting something on his fingers. “I do believe that we can disregard any final defence our enemy would try to raise.”
“Then make sure of it. Personally.”
“The Fourth Fleet is being overhauled with the new modular design, but we can be ready to deploy within the week-”
“And they'll remain here to test the design, Commander,” I interrupted, rising to my feet and pointing at the First Imperial Fleet protecting the station. “But you, I want you to take a Veles from the First Fleet and personally direct the efforts at the front.”
“And… why me, your Majesty?” Arnvald asked, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “Why not get Sergeant Vector here to do it?”
“It’s Grand Warmaster, Commander Arnvald,” he retorted, looking as if he’d put a bullet into Arnvald if he had the chance. “And the next time you have the gall to push away his Majesty’s decree, I will personally shoot you for treason.”
“Oh, but it’s only right to give you a chance to redeem yourself, Grand Warmaster. You can regain their Majesty’s favour by showing off your skills in battle-”
“That wasn't negotiable, Commander.”
Both Endoskeletons flinched as I slowly walked around to the front of my desk, my gaze laying on both of them. “Arnvald, you'll be leaving tomorrow to supervise the final attack on the Kingdom. If it fails, I will give Vector the satisfaction of having you shot. Do I make myself clear?”
“Y-yes, your Majesty…”
“And you, Vector, given your report, I want you reassigned to the remains of Borealis Station. Take the prisoners with you and standby for tasking when you get there.”
“Enigma, your Majesty? But what do you want me to say to your guards?”
“I’ll brief them myself.”
“I-I understand. When do we leave?”
“Yes, your Majesty.”
“Now, any further questions?”
Both Endos shook their head, avoiding my gaze and fidgeting about where they stood.
“Eh… your Majesty?” Vector head was pointed upwards, staring at the scene beyond the skylight. My head turned to look at the station, only to be greeted by a fireball engulfing the centre of the dockyard. Silence filled the room for a moment, before being broken by the shockwave that followed. In the distance, debris and ship parts were thrown about like toys. Many vessels that escaped the initial carnage were slammed against their moorings by the blast wave or struck by the cascade of wreckage. Secondary detonations rocked the station, as ships and personnel rushed to contain the damage and evacuate casualties.
“That was where the Fourth was located...” Arnvald mumbled, his voice only a whisper compared to the thunderous explosions coming from the dry docks. The once-bustling mega station now burned and shuddered as Arnvald left the room, barking at the guards to rally and mount a rescue. The supports creaked about as the explosions continued, as if trying to rip the station apart.
And as the guards hastily guided me to the exit, the shutters closed over the ghastly scene, leaving us in complete darkness. There was nothing I could do but wonder what the future would hold...
For the Empire and for our kind at large…
“Sir, corazium mine has been carried out. It’s exactly as you’ve foreseen.”
“Good. Prepare all squads.”
- Singapore, Singapore
- TheMarksman, Head of the Navy
"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." -Edgar Allen Poe.
"Let's suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say "Well, that was pretty great." But now let's have a surprise. Let's have a dream which isn't under control. Where something is gonna happen to me that I don't know what it's going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say "Wow, that was a close shave, wasn't it?" And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream. And finally, you would dream ... where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today." -Alan Watts