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An Unpleasant Dawn


Daniel Borgertpoepping


“It is with great conviction that I utter these words to you, my people. There are many who have said that the time of our greatness has reached its end. That the Benevolent Imperial Empire has seen its last sunrise, that our people are all but ready to fade into legend. I stand before you now, with a plea for the same faith you have shown before. We have not seen our last sunrise, but the first of a new age. An age of truly aggressive expansion, imperialism at any cost. We will lash out at those responsible for our strife with a vengeance never before seen by this universe. Their rivers will run with blood, and their sun shall cry out in unending anguish. But the ferocity will not be stymied, the waves of righteousness will not break upon the rocks of our enemies, but break through! It will wash the infidels back unto the abyss from whence they came, and they shall rue the day they thought to challenge our might. To you, our enemies-While you “expanded” your domain, while you increased trade, you neglected to watch us. While you sat on your cushions and lived with your luxuries, you neglected to watch us. While you looked to the sky, believing in the greatness of your culture, you remained oblivious to that which lay beneath; the rotting foundation of your government, and the decay of your Republic. I say now, and let it be remembered in the greatest books of history unwritten, total war has been declared upon you and your constituents, and we shall not rest until the suns and their stars have been scourged of your diseased ideals.”          


            Early sunlight crept over the horizon like blood spilling from a fresh wound. As the first rays struck the white stone towers of San Tentra, the capital city of Delmae, the metropolis came alive; every adult walking purposefully towards their workplace to begin another day. Miraculously, the streets remained unclogged, free for horses and their couriers to trot through. An outsider would never know the nation was at war, for cities across the country acted similarly. Each large city was its own regional state, complete with a complement of outlying villages. The government of the Benevolent Imperial Empire was centered in San Tentra, where monthly caucuses and meetings occurred between the Emperor and the central government, called Acumen, and the rest of the Imperial Bureaucrats. Each city/state had its own Governing Council, headed by a Cealot, with a support crew of another twenty bureaucrats. Each section of states, usually around six in number, fell under the jurisdiction of a Grand Cealot, who had the ear of the emperor. Once a month, all forty-three Cealots, each accompanied by two of their underlings, would come together with their Grand Cealots for a massive council with He Whom The Lord Smiles Upon. Xerxes the Stern had ruled Delmae well for the first twenty years of his reign. He was loved by his people, and respected by his political colleagues. His charisma began to fade along with the deterioration of relations with theCyklone Domain, across the Parched Ocean. He became increasingly ineffective as public dissent rose and war became imminent. Even his supporters had been heard whispering, “Death with dignity is not such a horrible thing”. Two years ago, war erupted in the valleys on the outskirts of the Parched Ocean. A Delmaean Vanquisher Patrol had fired upon suspicious gatherers. The men turned out to be Cyklone civilians, who had mistakenly strayed into a ‘no-entrance zone’. Ten of the nineteen spotted perished immediately, eight more died of their injuries, and one escaped deeper into the valley. Three days later, a communiqué was received by the office of Xerxes. It denounced the government of the BIE, and effectively declared war on the nation. Two days later, an emergency council was called for from the Acumen.


            Pidominitae Omnelius Constantium watched the landscape roll by outside his window. The caravan snaked through the canyon floor, under the wary eye of three ground transports. Pidominitae rode on the main mobile platform, a 600 foot long train that moved along its rails at seventy miles per hour. The three transports were also rail-mounted, smaller, armed versions of the Mongoose the Cealot, under-Cealots, and their spouses rode on. Each guard platform housed two armored machine gun turrets, with a larger anti-personnel battery placed in the middle. Pidominitae questioned their purpose. Here they were, deep in Imperial Territory, and the powers that be still didn’t believe in a safe journey. He sighed with resignation. The country looked to be on a path for the war of the ages, and here were government resources, protecting the lower bureaucrats from Vyetrin, Pidominitae’s city. He turned his head from the blur of thick vegetation flashing by, and fixed his eyes on his immediate superior. Cruciem Callais, Cealot of Vyetrin, glanced up from his copy of the edict issued by the Emperor.

            “Seen enough of our glorious countryside, son?” His voice dripped with sarcasm, and he flicked his eyes back down to his paper. Pidominitae nursed an intense dislike for Callais, stemming from his first days working under the Cealot. Cold, demeaning, and offensive, Callais was nasty to all those under him. It was said even the Emperor disliked his company.

            “Enough for now, sir. Give it a couple years at the rate this conflict is escalating and this whole area is going to look like hell. The generals I hear from say that if an attack comes, it’ll come through this network of canyons, trying to cut our supply caravans and political institutions in half” Pidominitae replied.

            “What do they know? Fat men who sit behind our men and women in uniform have no right to spew their theories on whims. Don’t concern yourself with it. You just keep fetching papers and drinks and I’m sure you’ll make a fine executive secretary someday.” Callais smiled at his barbed insult; partly because he, and he alone, found it amusing, and partly because he knew no retribution would follow. Constantium kept his eyes on Callais a moment longer, then returned his gaze to the slowly thinning countryside. As they neared the outskirts of San Tentra, the trees gave way to enormous mansions. With marble as white as the clouds on a sunny day, they dotted the landscape, showcasing the wealth and power of these citizens. Nowhere in San Tentra were there depressed districts, but none could equal the sheer enormity and gravity these commanded. A knock at the door interrupted Pidominitae’s reverie. His friend and fellow under-Cealot, Mardul Manstro, poked his head in.

            “Seshay would like a word with you, Dom.”

            “With your permission, sir.” Pidominitae glanced at Callais, who did not look up from his new entertainment, a Zovubay mathematical puzzle. Dom took this as consent and departed quietly. Mardul shut the door behind him and grabbed his arm. Pulling him quickly, he lead him toward the family rooms on the train.

            “I thought Seshay was sleeping, Mardy. There’s no way she’s conscious after last night. I don’t think she ever went to bed. She kept packing all night. I found her half-awake, stretched over her suitcase.”

            “She didn’t tell me to get you. I need to talk to you. We’re using her parlor. Come on.” Mardy ran a card through the security scanner and the door clicked open. They both ducked inside and it swung shut behind them. The red velvet benches sat facing each other near the window. They both took a seat.

            “I’m worried, Dom. Something’s not at all right with this situation. Think back a couple years. You remember when we both were interns? Twenty-four Imperial citizens dead by Domain firepower. Accident? Fine, I’ll give a free pass on that one. Four months later, forty eight dead by our Sharpshooter Division. They called it ‘Suspicious Activity’ near our border. Both governments brushed it off as an unfortunate training exercise gone wrong. But now?  I say this out of fear: what have we done? Let our children and our gods forgive us for all of eternity."

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