Talas

By Robert Lynch

-Excerpt from the secret diary of the Enlightened Emperor.

“Shields are taking a battering, Sir!” the Lieutenant said.

“Hold.” I watched thought the viewscreen as the last rebel stronghold fought to the death. Valiant against our onslaught, the static stronghold stood like the castles of old. And like those ancient stalwarts, it had the same weaknesses. Walls only hold out the enemy for so long, eventually supplies run out.

My fleet had been barraging the stronghold’s shields for almost two weeks. The fire that they returned had damaged a few ships, but it was easy to rotate the to the back and let them recover. The only ship that hadn’t rotated out was my own. My fleet would win the battle, but I had to be the one at the front when it happened; if a subordinate won the day, it wouldn’t be long before I faced another rebellion.

My view was blocked briefly as a worker drone crawled over the sensor we were looking through. Repairing hull damage during a firefight would be the largest cause of casualties on my flagship. Still, once I have consolidated the Empire, many more lives will be saved than those poor souls crawling on the hull right now.

The stronghold’s shields fell in the lower right quadrant, leagues away from the flagship. Damn it. “Get the ship down to that breech!” I crowed.

Talas’s ship had already slipped inside the shield barrier and was taking out shield emitters, letting more of the fleet in. Damn it.

It took less than 30 minutes to break open the last resistance and execute the rebels.

I stood over the pile of dissidents as Talas entered the room. “Hail Talas,” I said.

“Hail Imperator.” He thumped his chest over his heart as he approached. “I have expunged the last of the rebels in the south, my Lord.”

“Excellent,” I replied as I closed the distance, reaching out my hand in greeting.

He took it. The needle in my armour did its work.

He looked at me, realising what had happened, all too late. He pulled his pistol, but the poison was already slowing him. With my plasma dagger, I lurched forward and ended Talas quickly.

I suppose I feel regret that a good man had to die, but a competent and powerful vassal can quickly become a rival.

END

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