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Rise of the Imperium

Kevin Kingswell

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[b]The town of Felegorma[/b]

The people living in the african wildlands were constantly having to deal with roving warbands of militia and petty warlords, these men and women would rise up in a band before pillaging and razing the nearby lands before either turning on one another, splitting up or being defeated by another more powerful warband. So when the small village of Felegorma woke one morning to find a number of technicals and armoured fighting vehicles heading towards them they resigned themselves to the future prospect of fear and violence.

Gathering a group of the village's strongest and fittest young men the village leader lead them out to the outskirts to meet this new warband, to his surprise he noticed that all the vehicles were painted in the same menacing black matte paint and all of them had the same symbol on their bodywork. The vehicles were also in surprisingly good condition with only the dust of a day's travel on their framework and from the fluid movement of the armoured vehicles turrets it was clear they were well oiled and maintained something that most warbands never took the time to do.

The group of vehicles which now numbered ten technicals and two armoured fighting vehicles came to halt on the exact outskirts of the village and the group of villagers watched as a number of armed people disembarked in a very organised manner. These people wore some sort of strange body armour which included full face visored helmets and carried modern weaponary which like their vehicles was clearly well maintained.

As one the group of soldiers advanced until they were a few feet away from the villagers then the group split in two with both halves taking a single step to the left and right respectivally allowing an officer to step forwards to face the village leader.

Clearing his throat nervousally the village leader raised one hand in greeting before speaking. "Greetings stranger, I am Ok'embo leader of this village. How can we help you gentlemen?".

The officer quickly brought up his personal data assistant, gave it a brief glance before turning his attention back to Ok'embo. He then looked Ok'embo straight in the eyes before conversing. "This village has been deemed of value and therefore from this moment onwards is now part of The Imperium. You are to gather all citizens of this village and have them ready for proccessing in exactly twenty minutes. There is no exceptions. Any resistance will be met with deadly force" proclaimed the officer loudly.

At the mention of The Imperium the colour drained from Ok'embo's face and the young men behind him gasped and muttered in horror. They had all heard the rumours of this Imperium. A group of europeans who had come to Africa to claim the land as their own, many had laughed and said they were doomed to fail and yet the rumours had spread saying how the group was lead by a self appointed Emperor and they had bested the coastal region's greatest warlord and absorbed his men and equipment into their own force before establishing the Imperial Capital City.

Now the proof of these rumours stood before them and there was nothing any of them could do to stop them. Ok'embo bowed his head in dejection and shame, "There will be no resistance. We will be ready in twenty minutes as per your orders" he said fighting to keep tears of shame from flowing down his weathered cheeks.

"Very good. Sergeant take your men and secure this town and someone tell the techs that they can come forward and begin the proccessing" ordered the officer turning and walking away as the sergeant and his men walked with Ok'embo and his fellow villagers into a new village for the Empire.

[b]The Imperial Palace, Imperial Capital City[/b]

Rising above the nearby buildings the dark grey walls of the Imperial Palace loomed, his twin black spires reaching high up towards the heavens where helicopters arrived and left ferrying personal and other important visitors to and from on their business. Whilst at the base of the palace a large number of steps rose towards the entrance making those of lower standing have to walk up them, the discomfort of having to do so was made worse by the african heat and the eyes of Emperor watched from his stone carved statue that stood on a dias to the front. The effect was to make any visiting person feel small and insignificant and it worked to great effect.

Luckily for Natalia Daala she was able to avoid such a journey, instead she was inside her own personal air conditioned helicopter as befitted a member of the Imperial Inner Circle. Daala's actual position within the circle was Head of Intelligence and many feared and dreaded her attention in case they found themselves suddenly vanishing without a trace never to be seen again. It had already happened before and it would happen again.

Thinking of this brought a smile to Natalia's beautiful face and she brushed aside a strand of her fiery red hair as she waited for the pilot to complete the last remaining checks before landing. The other members of the Inner Circle had laughed and jeered at her, in secret of course, when her name was put forward for the position and yet those had quickly stopped when the other applicants had all suffered "accidents" of some nature.

Now she held them in the palms of her hands through the threat of fear and suffering should they displease her or the Emperor. In fact the Emperor had made it quite clear of his support of her application and it was clear he held no bias towards her for her gender. But then he would not as she had known for there was only two things the Emperor looked for in his subjects. Fear and obediance.

Daala's thoughts were broken as her assistant listened to the pilot as he spoke before turning towards her. Johnson was her newest assistant, only recently having been assigned to her after his predeccesor had been found withholding information with the intent of selling it to some sort of rebellious group. Daala had allowed the sale though it had been tracked and as the forces of The Imperium had swooped in and eliminated the rebellious member she had the assistant arrested, interrogated and tortured though he hadn't lasted long before expiring much to her disappointment. Now Johnson had his job and she knew he had guessed about his predeccesor's fate and that made his fearful of her. Just as it should be.

"Madam Director" he said using her official title. "We should be landing in the next five minutes, there is an unfortunate problem with some local workers who are refusing to move from our assigned landing pad on the spire. They should be removed shortly".

With a sharp twist of her head Daala focused her attention on Johnson the suddeness of her movement and the rage in her eyes causing him to jerk backwards slightly in his seat. "You incompentant fool!!" she roared at him and he averted his gaze as she leaned in close to the pilot and gripped the man's shoulder harshly with her fist. "You will order the guardsmen on that platform to execute those workers immediatly or they will answer to me and get this machine landed. Now!!".

The pilot quickly stammered a short reply before relaying Daala's orders and quickly brought the helicopter down onto the pad. Pulling herself forward Daala reached for the door and yanked it open with a strong pull to be greeted with the sight of the visored guards gunning down the two troublesome workers. Placing a curt smile on her face Daala climbed out of the helicopter and walked over to where the guardsmen stood, both of them snapped to attention before her, their hands thundering of their body armour.

"Madam Director" they both said in acknowledgement. "Carry on soldiers" replied Daala as she strode past them and entered the Imperial Palace with Johnson having to almost run to catch up with her. "I want the updated spy reports on my desk by the time I reach it. Is that understood?" ordered Natalia already knowing the answer. "Of course Madam Director" replied Johnson hurrying away to ensure that such was done so.

Smiling to herself Daala stopped and looked out across the busy activity of the Intelligence division in the Imperial Palace. "Today is going to be a marvellous day" she said to herself before setting off towards her office ready to begin today's activities.
Imperial Palace Announcement to the Globe[/b]

[i]"Greetings from The Imperium. As of today The Imperium announces its entrance into global politics. For more information on The Imperium please contact the Imperial Palace Diplomatic Division."[/i]


[i] "This has been an Imperial announcement."[/i]

Edited by Kevin Kingswell
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[b]Imperial Palace, Inner Circle Chamber[/b]

Of all the rooms found with in the Imperial Palace only the Emperor's throne room held the same sort of dark malice that the Inner Circle chamber's did, as soon as one crossed the the door thresh hold the light seemed to be engulfed in darkness and the feeling of dread would run along the the skin of the viewer bringing with it the need to leave as quickly as possible. Whether this was due to the room itself or the occupants that used it was left up to each and every person who entered.

Standing before the entrance, Natalia fought to keep her breathing in check. She might hold the other members of the Inner Circle in contempt for their treatment of her she was still secretly afraid of this room. Her fear was not one of darkness or of the men inside, no her fear was of appearing to fail in the eyes of the Emperor who always knew of what occured during these meetings even if he was not present in the meeting himself.

Digging her fingernails into the palms of her hands Natalia took a few short breaths before opening the doors and stepping inside, all she could see was pure darkness in the few seconds it took for her eyesight to adjust. As soon as it had she quickly noted that the room was empty which made no sense as she had recieved the message detailing for her to attend the meeting inside as soon as possible. Could she have been late? No it couldn't be possible she had only just recieved this message a few minutes ago, maybe the message should have arrived sooner and one of her rivals had managed to have it delayed to discredit her. Already Natalia's mind had begun to think of some way to fix the situation when the voice she least expected to hear rang out around her.

"Director step forward" ordered the Emperor himself as he stood to his full height in the centre of the room. His pitch black robes had hidden him from her sight and as he rose the robes across his back slipped back slightly revealing the white pale skin of his hands, dark blue veins rising from within. Stepping forwards Daala bowed her head and kept her eyes squarely on the floor space before her feet as was protocol when in the Emperor's presence. Making sure she put each foot down carefully so not to stumble and thus make herself look a fool Daala crossed the room to stand before the Emperor.

Without a spoken word she dropped to one knee and then the other before resting her head between her hands in front of her. The Emperor kept her in that position for a full three seconds before commanding her. "Rise Director" rasped the Emperor his gaze firmly upon the woman before him.

Natalia was stunned she should have been left in such a way for at least five full seconds as was the custom and then she realised what she wasn't doing and stood up allowing her eyes to run across her Emperor's face.

At such a close distance she could see every crease in the man's features, every wrinkle both large and small and the sunkeness of his cheeks that showed just how old he was. Yet to look upon the Emperor's face was to look upon a force of nature. Where his skin showed decay, his eyes roared with fire and determination, where his bones showed deterioration his muscles radiated strength and power. The Emperor may be a very old man almost ancient many would say his spirit was that of an ever burning brand of vengeance and control. This was man who may rule a nation for now but was destined to rule so much more.

Just standing in his presence was having an effect on Natalia as she felt revitalised and filled with a need to go out and proof her own worth to the world and to her Emperor. Perhaps this was his main strength to not only drive himself onwards when his body should drop down but to invigorate others to drive onwards too.

She wanted to reach out and just touch his skin, to feel the leatherly courseness across her own smooth skin. With some amount of control Natalia managed to keep her arms and hands by her side though it was clear the Emperor had noticed and his wasted lips pulled back in a predatory smile.

Then it was suddenly gone replaced by a scowl of anger with eyes showing sheer disappointment, the change had come so rapidly Daala flinched backwards her loving gaze broken as she cast her eyes to the floor whilst fear rippled across her own face.

"Director I am disappointed" spoke the Emperor flatly "I gave you your position against the advice of many advisors more aged and experienced than you for I felt you had potential and yet you have not shown any".

Natalia instantly had a number of rebukes and yet she wisely kept her mouth closed and her eyes on the floor. "I am disappointed to see that you have betrayed my trust or maybe I was wrong, maybe I was mistaken".

"No!!!!" shouted Daala looking to the Emperor only to feel a sharp sting across her cheek as he struck her with his hand. "Silence" he commended before gripping her chin and tilted her head upwards so he could look straight into her eyes. To Daala it felt like he was looking through her into her very soul.

"I will give you another chance. I know you are training your own apprentice to do your bidding" spoke the Emperor with a smile as he noticed the shocked look in Natalia's eyes. "Yes I know of this. Do you really think you could hide such secrets from me? In my own city. No but I forgive you Director but do not forget. I see all".

"Now you will go and contact your apprentice and tell her to head for the land of Cambodia. You know yourself that their leader has sent out invitations and your apprentice shall attend along with an envoy as her cover. She will be his bodyguard though whilst he plays out the diplomatic side she shall explore and locate anything of value".

"Now go. Leave and do not return until your apprentice has completed her mission" he said in dismissal waving with one hand to the door. "By your will my Emperor" replied Natalia obediently bowing her head before turning on her heels and walking out. Just before she exited the room she heard the Emperor's voice call out.

"Do not forget Natalia Daala. My eyes see all".

Turning her head she looked back into the chamber room but the Emperor was already gone from sight swallowed up in the embrace of darkness. Surpressing a shudder Natalia continued onwards heading for the secret training quarters of her apprentice to inform her of the mission that now lay ahead of her.

Edited by Kevin Kingswell
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