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Gene Lord

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Preface: this is part two of gene warrior. Its not really a sequel piece, but its linked to it. Feedback welcome as again, Sci-fi writing is totally out of my comfort zone. I also tried a slightly different writing perspective this time.

 


Artekan Sho-Maka was not a prideful man, though he had many reasons to be. As Governor of the Void Reaches he was among the most powerful men in the Sutharian Empire, and as the head of the Sho-Maka family he had access to a fortune that could buy multiple planets. His social and economic power aside, Artekan was as close to being a divine specimen as the Suthari could comprehend. Subjected from conception to genetic manipulation which continued up to and beyond his birth, only to continue in his childhood, the Governor might well be mistaken for a living god by less advanced races. His resplendent skin shines bronze, without a single mark or marr - no freckle or scar, not a mole or spot to be found. Carefully cared for locks of golden hair protrude from beneath the circlet of silver perched on his head, the symbol of his office. Beneath a brow free from creases sit perfectly plucked eyebrows, and a pair of violet eyes that have seen a hundred worlds burn and countless millions die, in the name of the Empire. Full lips painted blue sit on a chin free from hair, now parted in a smile revealing teeth of purest white, flanked by a jawline sharp enough to draw blood. But even Artekan, for all this, is not the most beautiful being in the room.

 

Lounging upon a shining silver throne sits the Emperor, ruler of all Suthari be they living or dead. Where Artekan appears divine, the being on the throne is a god. Born countless years ago on Suth-Sutha before the Empire was even conceived, as a united Suthari race began their first tentative steps into the void of space, the Emperor was a scientist. The tale is well known among the Suthari, of how the Emperor and his crew discovered an anomaly far from the newly built space stations of their people, an anomaly which took the mortal flesh of the Emperor and bid him ascend to a new form, with a divine sanction and cause - Bring the galaxy to heel under the Suthari. The rest is history, thousands of years of ascension of their species onto the galactic stage, from children in a playground to Imperial overlords.

 

Now with thousands of years to master the powers granted to them, the Emperor’s form is mutable, appearing differently to those who are graced enough to see him with their own eyes, though every time beautiful and otherworldly.

 

“I am told the Void Reaches have claimed six new planets in the last cycle.” A voice like honey, dripping with latent power. Artekan had not known why the Emperor summoned him, but now he could make some guesses. “This is down from your previous success of fifteen planets. Why?”

 

Clearing his throat, Artekan took a step toward the throne. They were the only people in the room, though thousands could fit in the hall if required. The vast emptiness lent both of their voices an echo, acoustics of the hall designed for the voice of the Emperor to reach those at the back without any need for a raised voice. “Emperor, inhabitable planets are...a finite resource. We have encountered a number of civilisations inhabiting planets unsuitable even to the Suthari.” Despite his nature, or because of it, the Emperor could be quite naive when it came to galactic conquest. “We have initiated terraforming works on twenty nine planets in this last cycle. That is an increase of the previous figure of twenty four. After purging of the aforementioned civilisations is complete, we intend to add four more to that number.”

 

An almost imperceptible nod came from the Emperor. “This is satisfactory. Thank you for coming today, Governor. Your position remains stable.”

 

Astounded, Artekan waited for more instruction. When none was forthcoming, he bowed. “Thank you, Emperor. You know I live only to serve the Empire.” With no response, the governor left the hall, barely containing his fury that the Emperor had summoned him halfway across the galaxy for something so meaningless.

 

As the great doors swung shut behind Sho-Maka, a soft thud pierced the silence of the room. A moment later the air of the throne room shimmered akin to a heat haze, before revealing the lithe form of a man. Not so blessed as Artekan to have undergone genetic craftwork since before his birth, though now in a position to acquire whatever work he might desire, Toresk Sho-Vasa reveals himself. Dressed in a thin black outfit covered in technology recently retrieved from a civilisation purged from the Great Borderlands of the Empire, Toresk being the new governor of that particular sector, the man will most likely never match up to the divine form of the other governor though pundits insist that Toresk possesses a far greater mind - hence his appointment to one of the most prestigious regions of the Empire, while Artekan Sho-Maka is left to bring primitives to heel in the Reaches.

 

“Emperor.” Toresk bows as the shimmering ceases. “Is this truly necessary? I have secreted my men on board as you instructed, though Artekan is an intelligent man. Despite his failings, he has produced net positives across all performance variables. I can not see him…” His cautious venture ceases as the Emperor raises a hand.

 

“I require your service, Sho-Vasa, not your opinion. This conspiracy is not one I have learned of from spies, it is one I have seen. Trust in my vision, and all will be well.”

 

---

 

The Imperial Palace on Suth-Sutha is a maze, winding across countless miles of the city-planet. It is for good reason that almost all Suthari of good standing who visit make use of guides. Of course, for those of lesser echelons in Suthari society it is far more reasonable to make use of a map - services of flesh, even one as simple as a guide, cost far too much for a normal petitioner or worker. As Artekan wound his way through the gold and silver halls, close on the heels of his guide, he pondered the true reason for his summoning. A report such as this could have been requested a thousand times over, and would have reached the Emperor’s ears long before he could have got here in person. Sighing, he knew the only answer was politics.

 

Was this some scheme of Batrak Sho-Tepa? The governor of the Inner Regions had for some time made clear his desire to expand his domain, though Artekan could not figure what the cretin might gain from him coming so far. Some other political rival? There were so many families among the ranks of the Sho, any one of the hundreds might be the architect of these events. Resolving to cast out some feelers from safe territory, Artekan sped up the pace. His Starjumper was waiting, ready to catapult him across the Empire at speeds most ships can’t touch, with no need for cryosleep. The only drawbacks being the immense costs of the ship both in acquisition and running, and the small size. A journey that would take him over a year in a standard ship instead takes only a month, thanks to the antimatter drive contained in his vessel. Compared to the nuclear drives of the standard military vessels, it makes a world of difference.

 

The ship was long and slim, with a large back end containing the drive itself as well as a small reactor for general maneuvering. With  two seats on board the Starjumper itself and only a small cargo hold, he had elected not to bring any company. Imperial starspace was the safest in the galaxy, and there were enough security systems in the palace to prevent all but a thermonuclear explosion from killing him. On the other hand, no number of guards could save his life should the Emperor wish to deprive him of it.

 

His arrival was anticipated, a handful of technicians scurrying about the ship with various tools in hand. All of them were unmodified Suthari, small and ugly in comparison to the Sho-Maka and those of similar class, and typically beneath his notice if they had not been dirtying his prized ship with their presence. He understood the appeal, if nothing else. The Starjumper was one of a kind, much of the technology somewhat arcane even to the Suthari, acquired from a dead world discovered a decade ago and repurposed into his masterpiece for a significant portion of his family’s wealth.

 

“Clear the area. I wish to depart and would not have your deaths on my hands.” His tone is colder than he intended, though the fact remained that if they did not take shelter the Starjumper would obliterate them, whether it was heat from the engines or the shockwave generated by the antimatter drive. They hurried away from him, pale faced and shaking, as he boarded the vessel.

 

Spooling the drive took a few minutes, time he took to consider his situation further. He knew what waited for him at home, Suth-Kasa rarely changed drastically. The invasion of the planet designated to become Suth-Metra would likely be concluded by that time, which meant he would have to search for their next conquest. He had not lied to the Emperor, suitable planets and systems were getting harder and harder to come by as the Void Reaches expanded ever further.

 

Ah. That must surely be it. The Emperor, or other governors, were concerned that the Reaches had grown too large, and soon he would find his domain split into two. Most likely with him given the poorer half. A restraint on his power, to quell ambition, and send a clear signal that no matter how successful one Suthari was, the Emperor could discard that victory in a heartbeat. Buckling himself into the pilot’s seat, Artekan made a promise to himself, that his legacy would not be broken in two and cast to the wolves. Whatever the cost, the Void Reaches would be remembered as the greatest sector of the Empire before he was done.

 

---

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My name is Commander Shepherd, and I approve this story.

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4 hours ago, HauntedHalcyon said:

WOW!! LOVE IT!!

hey thanks, its not my best work... 😅

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