Peace for Our Time
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Star Date 12.86.45

My Emperor,

I lament to inform that peace negotiations have failed. The Krolovar Imperium has refused any offerings made by the League of Ten Kingdoms. War is imminent.

The League is in disarray. Those few who still insist on appeasing the Krolovar with more offerings block a formal declaration of war, and we simply cannot wait for them to come to their senses. The Emerald Hegemony has already stated its intention to abandon the alliance and begin a preemptive counterstrike. I suggest we join it in this decision.

I will remain on Mih and try to convince the rest of the League to stand together. Should I fail, I beg you heed my words. An alliance may be our only hope to survive.

May the gods grant us victory.

- Hrko-Somet



THE HOLLOW EARTH
Vol. MMCCIII
FATA MORGANAPRICE ONE IMPERIAL CREDIT
WAR
DECLARED BY EMPEROR MORTIS
by Algernon of the Wormwood

Today at first dawn on Idhai, Emperor Mortis announced that the Immortal Empire has formally declared war against the Krolovar Imperium, after Krolovar forces glassed the neutral planet of Mih. The devastating attack ended nearly five million lives, including that of Imperial Ambassador Hrko-Somet. The entire planet has been rendered uninhabitable.
During this morning's speech, the Emperor blamed Mih's destruction on the League of Ten Kingdoms inability to either reach a peaceful agreement with the Krolovar or prepare its defenses against military aggression.
"The loss of Ambassador Hrko-Somet will stand as a testimony of our failure to find an effective diplomatic solution. Our only hope now is to stand together with the rest of the League, a common front against a merciless, unrelenting enemy," said Emperor Mortis. "Though the Immortal Empire has vied for peace and diplomacy amongst the peoples of the Universe, the advent of war has forced us to adapt; if we are to be guardians of peace, we must be ready to defend it no matter the cost."
At the time of this publication, the Imperial Parliament has granted Emperor Mortis full war powers, with a formal announcement soon to follow.
As the Empire begins war preparations, large portions of the Imperial Armada have been mobilized to protect the Empire's frontiers. By order of War Minister Ta'arre K'hust, draft notices are currently being delivered to the citizens of the Immortal Empire, and it is expected that nearly every planet under Imperial authority will deploy their own local troops to patrol their star systems in anticipation of a possible Krolovar breach into Imperial territory.
Following the Emperor's declaration of war, Queens Titania and Mab of the Fey Courts have announced they will deploy troops to aid the Imperial war effort; ten thousand faeries and five thousand elves are already enroute to begin weaving magical defenses against the invaders.



Star Date 18.86.45

My beloved Onara,

I hope you will forgive me writing down these words so soon after my departure, but I am far too excited to wait. We are to be married, you and I, and I could not be happier.

My lineage is a humble one, made of grunt workers and bacteria farmers, while you are descended from noble blood, a daughter of the great sages and scholars of Klenura. How our families ever agreed to see us joined in marriage can only be a blessing of Nazruma himself.

Know that I have loved you since we were but hatchlings, that I have adored every kind word that has ever exited your mouths, that I have long dreamed of embracing your carapace in the sacred bond of Oneness.

Through famine and plague I have loved you. Through crisis after crisis I have hoped that we may one day be together. Know that I am convinced this is the last challenge I must tackle before I can join you, before I we can finally be One.

The tides of destiny have seen it fit to test us one final time, my love. War looms on the horizon, and our Empire demands that we serve it, that we protect those weaker than us from the Invaders and that we bring glory to our homes. I know that you see war as a foolish endeavor, but I beg one day you’ll understand my reasons for enlisting.

The Immortal Empire has been nothing but magnanimous to our people. They saved us from the brink of extinction, appeased our warring clans and restored our world to the lush, fertile planet it was before our folly devastated the land. It is only fair that we, its citizens, defend it against those who would see it extinguished.

I will return to your embrace as soon as the war is over, my love. Our Empire is proud and mighty, and I am sure we will make short work of the Invaders. Know that I will be thinking of you every waking moment, and that my dreams will be filled with the promise of our Oneness.

Yours,

– Tomur


"To approach the Emerald Hegemony is to delve into a realm of cold, ruthless logic."

Emperor Mortis' voice echoed through the chamber. Dark were his thoughts and bitter his tone as he imparted knowledge upon the figure sitting at the center of the chamber, her delicate, graceful figure a sharp contrast against the Emperor's gaunt visage.

Poised like a nymph in the dreams of Homer, the creature stared at the hologram projector before her, two bright, verdant eyes unblinking at information displayed by the glowing screen. Despite her apparent concentration, the rigidity of her posture and the heaviness of her breath betrayed the weariness of one who has been thrust into a situation that far exceeds their skills. After all, how could a child bear the weight of a task like this?

Princess Aelita, heir to the Immortal Empire, fought a losing battle against anxiousness and fatigue, her mind and body slowly giving in to the overwhelming gravity of the situation: war had come to the Twelve Galaxies.

It is not like peace could hope to be like my father: everlasting, she thought despondently.

The Princess was anything but a novice in the field of politics. From the moment she could read, the Emperor had surrounded her with books and tutors on every conceivable subject, from arts and sciences to history and philosophy and, most importantly, power and diplomacy. With the Emperor, Aelita had studied strategy and policy-making, the intricacies of law and governance, the burden that came with decision-making.

Still, no amount of education could prepare one for the cruel realities of life.

In her eighteen years of life, Princess Aelita had never witnessed war. To her, the horrors of carnage and interstellar conflict had been nothing but ancient history, nightmares safely contained in her books, cautionary tales for the future ruler of the Empire. Of course, with Emperor Mortis being an immortal entity that had presided over the Empire for nearly five eons, the day of her own coronation seemed like an impossibly distant one, a perpetually postponed date with destiny. Now, destiny had arrived, and the full, crushing burden of responsibility had come with it.

"The Hegemony lacks emotion; in its eyes, it is the ultimate weakness," the Emperor continued, his shadow cast against the room's bare, windowless walls. "But do not, Princess, let yourself be deceived: the Hegemony may not feel emotion, but it understands it. Whatever vestiges remain in its hive mind, they are enough for it to weave, to plot, to take your irrationality and use it against you. For this reason, you must be in complete control of your emotions: the more you suppress your own irrationality, the less the Hegemony will undermine you."

He stared at the Princess, his burning green eyes glowing behind his silver mask. Aelita barely managed to raise her hand to ask a question, only to be ignored by the Emperor as he continued the lesson.

"The Hegemony only exhibits a semblance of emotion, of goodwill, when it approaches those from whom it has need. These are no true feelings, not true camaraderie; these are calculated moves, keen and sly machinations in the guise of diplomacy, to manipulate and entice and–"

"Will the Hegemony flaunt this… lack of emotion, father?” Aelita asked, nearly choking with anguish. "Will they–"

"Not they," her father answered almost instinctively. "It."

Emperor Mortis collected his thoughts before continuing.

"That is highly unlikely, my child. The Hegemony is conniving; it will observe protocol, but do not think for an instant that it cares about such formalities. Expect it to appeal to your emotions, your fears. You cannot be immediately dominated, so it will draw you in."

"But they– it will… make a point of it, will they not?" Aelita insisted. "It will view me as inferior because I am a child, because I am emotional and…"

"Enough," the Emperor said. "Princess, this is your responsibility, your duty to our people, to our Empire. You must be prepared to–"

"Why must you go?" Aelita finally cried out, struggling to keep her tears at bay as her anxiousness turned to pure fear. "Why must you leave me here, to face it alone?"

A sob escaped the Princess' throat as her father knelt down and pressed one of his long, skeletal hands against her cheek.

"My duties lie elsewhere, dear child. Remember all which you have been taught; remember who you are: I grew you from my own flesh, carefully molded you into my likeness, gifted you with the same power that has made my rule possible. In the eyes of the Empire, you are akin to a god, and that is what you must be. Forever just…"

"… forever strong," Aelita completed the Empire's motto.

She could tell the lesson was over before the door opened and War Minister Ta'arre K'hust entered, his levitating form bowing down to the Emperor and his daughter.

"My Emperor, my Princess," the War Minister reverently said.

"It is time," the Emperor stood and walked towards the door, his dark cloak trailing behind him. "Remember, my child: we each have our part to play, our burden to bear. Trust in your skills, and fear not."

The Princess assented and bowed to her father.

"I love you, Aelita."

With that, Emperor Mortis stepped into the shadows of the Imperial Palace and disappeared. War Minister K'hust again bowed to Aelita, his understanding eyes meeting hers, and signaled for her to follow him.

Princess Aelita, heir to the Immortal Empire, wiped the tears from her eyes and followed Minister K'hust towards the Palace's main conference room.

Her father was right. Destiny had arrived.

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