The billows of clouds overlooked the presidium with its sprawling mat of minarets, domes and rectangular residences. The glaring white light from the F-4 star blanketed the city in a silver shroud, reflecting its power and opulence. Wealth was untold in the Dorf Imperium, an easy ticket for continuity of royalty under the Premiership of Lord Imblorr. He was virtually elevated to godhood, much of it passed on to his seated position, and relished the impunity he had with even the boldest of actions. Plans were being made. He smiled, but with a furrowed brow as he scanned the perimeter of the royal minaret. The palace guards remained frozen, strategically placed at their positions to strike against the smallest incursion into the throne room. They were programmed for instant kills, leaving nothing alive that would fight another day.
The throne was set up like an executive office suite complete with ergonomic arrangements of comfort and a near wrap-around desk. The traditional baroque designs inherent in the royal chamber had been relegated to the past. Premier Imblorr finished the last of his itinerary and waved his hand dematerializing the holos. One image remained that he dragged over in front of him. It was a public address on conduct codes, complete with an encomium to give it the official seal of Dorfdom. He signed his approval before passing it over to the public relations department for immediate release. He looked past one of the sentinels and out the panoptical windows, espying the lands beyond the city border. There was nothing visible of interest, but it was a tacit gesture to the Empire of the Humptumps. A frown curled over his mouth and he drummed his hands with impatience. A ray of silver sunlight rimmed the side of his face as he sat deep in contemplation. Had he seen himself in a mirror at that moment, he would have taken the light that shone on him as a positive omen.
I know what you’re thinking, Imblorr, an inner voice told him. The Humptumps are holding back. Those reserves are bottomless. The metal rich ores and petroleum lie at their disposal. What about their expansive forests? Think of all that lumber! They barely do anything with it other than stare at its pretty flowers, sitting idly on a diamond mine, oblivious to a future covered in rose petals, while someone of your stature would be finding better use for all that loot. What a waste of a continent!
Premier Imblorr continued to drum, listening to the voice within. He never knew who it was or where it came from, but it had been his reliable advisor since he accessed the throne a few years back. The suggestions were always sound, guiding his acts of helmsmanship and garnering the public's favor. Though, it was generally known the popular consensus was unable to differentiate a fruit from a rock. “Go on.”
Relations have been rocky as of late. Their power wanes. The sunset is upon them. There’s only one man who can fill the vacuum: you. Imblorr casually tipped his head in agreement. To him, the Humptumps were already sent to an early grave. It'll be an easy conquest. Not only will this pivotal endeavor fall in your favor, but it'll be the only time the Imperium can seize the enemy assets and feed unfettered expansion. What is the other side doing? Basking under the sun while the weeds continue to grow and entangle their lazy hides? You'll be trailblazing new paths for the future of your race! You're a natural born leader, without pity, availing yourself of the biggest opportunity this side of history. What are you waiting for? Someone to hand you everything wrapped in a bow so you can trifle with it before throwing it away? Imblorr knew the answer as if a step ahead of the cunning voice. It was a lie, of course. His dependence on such vital instruction would have exposed him as a fraud, proving his vulnerability had his luck turned on him. Meanwhile, the enemy continues to hoard all that benighted wealth, gaining advantage over the Imperium and shattering its dominance. Never! It’s either you or them, Imblorr. You are no fool! You were made to seal the fate of this puny planet. It’s what conquest is all about. Proclaim your glory and take what is yours! The upsell was obvious, but it was an exhortation of necessity.
The temptation was mesmerizing. He was showered in approval and given opportunities only dreamed about. Nothing could stop the momentum that drove his lust, nor would anyone dare to stand in his path. The robot guards would have seen to it.
“What are the odds of a decisive victory?”
I predict a landslide, if you follow my lead. Your triumph is paramount over an adversary who drowns in their own largesse. Barring their ineptitude, who else would have the audacity to capitalize on a bastion of minerals buried there like a useless grave. Seize the wealth, fatten your bellies, propitiate the masses. It's simple. Financial control is the key to total dominance. You will be revered without any shade of demurral. The sheep will look upon you as their resplendent shepherd and kowtow to your every whim. Every word from your lips will have them begging for more. Who can overlook the track record of an emperor proving himself a thousand times over!
The Premier’s mind was spinning in ecstasy as he bathed in a maelstrom of praise and reverence. It was, after all, his duty to serve his subjects with undo loyalty. The Humptumps were clearly weak and had no use with the island of ivory they lounged upon. He was left with a savage hunger, despite the mountains of luxury already at his disposal. What did he covet that the Imperium needed? It was not the Imperium, but his base desire, a mad chase to secure every corner of the world, solidifying Dorf customs and authority with little chance of reprisal. Soon, all will be under the Premier’s thumb!
He clearly had a decision in mind. “What is the preferred time frame?”
Very soon! Less than a week, but do not reveal it publicly. They don’t have to know anything of your device. Do they ever?
“Evidently not.” The Premier was beginning to feel himself quaver with envious rage. The more he spoke with this sepulchral voice, the more impassioned he became.
Then why are you still loafing about on your petty throne? The jokes were often condescending.
Imblorr kept still for the moment, ruminating the itinerary shoveled onto him. What passed through his mind was no secret; the voice knew his next move. He waved his hand and summoned the war room. The chief man-at-arms and four of his top strategists were called to plan a preemptive attack. There was a shade of protest in their responses, he noticed. They had no choice. It was the Imperium's future that hung in the balance, as well as their necks!
The voice concurred. Never mind those useless gamesmen. Just take their best options and throw away the rest. It’s either we take the whole continent, or we end up eating their dust. You can’t piecemeal an attack without surrendering time the enemy will use to prepare against us. If we lose, we lose it all, including your premiership!
The words rang through Imblorr’s head. The mendacity with which they were said was a necessary component to propel his agenda forward. The siege had to be quick and brutal, not lasting longer than twenty sunsets. The time allotted was enough to compromise the enemy before it reacted and simultaneously mitigate personal casualties in the Dorf Army.
The satellite data revealed all we need to know about the placement of their installations.
Imblorr demurred with an air of passive-aggressiveness, “And what other methods of deployment have we missed? If we target their infrastructure, we can sever their munition supply chain, crippling retaliatory strikes. We do have the weapons!”
Understood, but we can defer all our fire power to the heart of the empire. Take out their primary economic hubs with every fusion weapon in the arsenal and decisively decapitate their financial advantage for long-term incapacitation…that is if you are smart enough to heed my words!
It sounded brash and a little too desperate to be a rational move, Imblorr thought. But the voice’s advice had a flawless record of accuracy and gave the Premier the upper hand. The temptation outweighed the usual inertia created by logistical paralysis. Any advisor would have to be quick on the draw, and none were comparable to the secret advisor that levied successive victories without fail. It was his unholy secret kept from anyone but himself.
Remember, keep firing at the critical targets. Otherwise, you only have so many sunsets before they’re able to reequip and assemble their forces. All the information I showed you indicates their lack of preparedness upon the first strike. They don’t suspect a thing. The battle will be easily won if we get them by the throat!
Within two sunsets, the citizens of Dorf watched an armada of aerojets streak through the sky. Funny. Nothing was mentioned about a war brewing as far as they were concerned. Some were led to believe, and understandably so, that this was just a spectacle to reassure the population they were within the protection of the presidium. The only factor missing would have been the days of preparation in the public eye and the flurry of billets on every medium. Additional speculation floated that Dorf was under blitzkrieg attack and it would have been impossible to forewarn the public before defense forces were dispatched. But communication was instant and there was still no mention of anything beyond routine activities. The questions were alarming, but there was no state of address, no emergency broadcast, no sirens blaring in every direction.
The sky immediately went silent as the last aerojet whizzed by without indication of what just happened. Shrugging, the people resumed their daily routines without another stir.
The jets, known as “blood strafers,” swarmed past the coastline of Humptump territory at hypersonic speeds with armories and installations in their crosshairs. A barrage of ICBMs streaked from the skies in trails of condensation headed for each city throughout the opposing continent. Within moments, the enemy returned the volley. Like a plague of hornets, several oncoming strafers and missiles were intercepted in plumes of orange and black. The rest made their way to the other side of the world to pound the Dorf Imperium into dust. From the mutual timing of battle commencement, logic would have concluded both sides were given the same information, the same tactics with which to take one another out.
Cities blossomed into pillars of fire reaching into the stratosphere while fiery pressure waves flattened everything within proximity and leaving no standing structure behind. Bombs of invisible death struck the bread baskets, poisoning every farm, every livestock, every lifeform. Trees wilted, browned, and died. Avians dropped from the sky and littered the ground with their lifeless corpses. Millions, if not outright vaporized by the colossal blast fronts, were dropping dead from lethal doses of radiation and blights unknown to them. Yet, critical infrastructure was left intact as munitions continued to roll into position and unleash another holocaust on an unsuspecting citizenry. Only confusion and terror met the sudden outburst of fury. More streams of fire speared the sky and destroyed what remained of civilization…even life. Clouds flared like the sun and darkened in the violent deposition of dirt and debris blasted into the heavens. A deadly layer of sepia crept across the horizon and sealed the fate of everything within the atmosphere.
The annihilation was mutual; each side reacting to the machinations of the other while the last vestiges of intelligent life crumpled like the avians under the cobalt sun. And it was glorious! So glorious! Everything worked according to plan with nothing left but the dying envy of Premier Imblorr as he lay hunkered underground, never able to leave, to never again see the mountains, rivers, trees, and striking architecture under a clean cerulean dome. Nor would he ever see puffs of clouds rimmed in silver light with the silhouettes of flying critters passing through. None of that mattered. None of it existed anymore, except Imblorr himself…and the ever-present voice festering deep inside his skull.
Beautiful! Simply beautiful! Don’t you think, Your Premiership? The voice snidely intoned his rank of office. It was the first time he sensed mockery from what was once his most trusted advisor.
Imblorr had nothing to say as he sulked in his red-lit bunker with nowhere to retreat. He was the last living thing on the planet with so many hours left in his life before starvation took hold. Yet, the only words he could mutter were pathetic shadows of his ravenous envy and ushered in the living hell evoked on a whim.
Promised? Promised what? There were no promises, you dimwit! Blinded by your lust, you followed my advice without a moment’s hesitation.
“But––” he tried to feebly recuse himself. The voice only snickered and grew more pernicious.
I gave you a reliable track record with which to gain your trust, but all I did was allay your discernment while I used you as my vessel. And with that I thank you for your unconditional shortsightedness and your willingness to blunt your own judgment with every sin you harbored. There was not an ounce of common sense in you, just an empty shell ripe for indoctrination and the input of decisions to guide your kind into self-destruction. A covetous nature is easy to manipulate, stemming from your spoiled upbringing that groomed you for the throne! And before you abjure my legal proceeding, it is within the bounds of our binding agreement that you deliberately welcomed me into your life and accepted my role as your fait accompli. Who else can inherit an empire bent on self-absorption? And what a fool you were to fall for my vacuous adulations of an image so graven that my tactics worked with malevolent perfection!
“Were?” He could only question the fate of his status. It was all he could do, as he was empty of everything else except his own vanity, like a faulty program on an endless loop.
Very observant! Can you taste the irony? It's as sweet as wine with the tables turned around!
Now in light of your de facto abdication, I'm pleased to announce that your services are rendered obsolete, and henceforth, you are no longer needed in our domain! You’ve expended yourself and rightfully deferred the crown to your humble servants.
“Servants? You mean…”
Shut up, knave! There are many of us awaiting occupation. Now take that gun at your side, place it to your temple and pull the trigger!”
Without anything left to accomplish, to aspire to, Imblorr, the Premier emeritus of the former Dorf Imperium, hesitated for a moment before following out his final command. A loud shot resonated through the chamber with the sound of a thump and his graven image crumpling to the floor. He croaked his final utterance, a hollow echo too late to make amends. The great fall came, a product of his avarice, and he owed himself nothing but the last breath before winking into oblivion. His race, his world and every creature that walked its surface was now blown into dust, extinct from the universe, another blip in the cosmic theater of life and death.
Another voice emerged from the walls. Mission accomplished on my end. The Prime Sultan of the Humptumps, the creature tittered at the name, has left the building, to put it in metaphorical parlance!
Excellent! And boy, do the high and mighty fall so far! Slacken their morality and feed their ego, and they hitch onto you like a leech! He paused to admire his tactical triumph. Now my minions, we share the largess. The planet has been generously handed over to us, tailored to our unsightly desires. He waved his disembodied hand across the room gesturing at the carnage across the planet. A dead world is our world, like every other we’ve conquered.
Death is our nourishment, innocence our bane! We revel in blaspheming all that is holy and sane.
Invert reality, and subvert the truth, entrenching others in a hell so uncouth.
Craftily, we prey upon leaders so feckless, and we give praise to our principality of darkness!
The others recited, Hail Sheitan!
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Oh my god, he was wrong, it was Sheitan all along! Got what he deserved though, warmonger, strong flavour of Hitler’s death in his bunker. Interesting, it was djinn orchestrating it all?
Yep! Never give in to the temptations appealing to the flesh! All those roads leads to hell in a hand basket.