Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ The Seneschal ❯ Interlude: The Power of a Queen ( Chapter 8 )
Once again I apologize for taking so much time to update. Things have been hectic and I've been pushing hard to try to develop my ideas better whenever I get the chance. I wanted to post this chapter up to give a little more history to Selene. If it seems a little rough, it's because it is. My only proofreader is myself. I hope that everyone still finds this chapter to be interesting.
Anyways, standard disclaimers apply: I don't own anything to do with Sailor Moon or its associated properties. However Yumiko belongs to me.
Interlude of the Past: The Power of a Queen
Lunar Prime, 7001 FLP (Founding of Lunar Prime), 1st year of Queen Serenity XV, 20223 BCE
The Great Council Chamber was a sight to behold. Grand walls that were hewed from the purest moon crystal surrounding a finely polished marble floor. Great crystal chandeliers hung from the high vaulted ceilings and reflected their light from the golden mirrors that hung nearby. It was a vast and cavernous chamber. Dominating one side was a raised dais where a great oaken chair rose high. Next to it were several smaller chairs. Curving around the chamber itself was large, multi-tiered seating for the associated council members. Everything was made from the finest Earth oakwood and overlaid with shining gold leaf. Behind the raised dais was a crystal relief of a massive spire that was topped with the symbol of Lunar Prime. A golden crescent moon.
Selene long remembered her mother telling her about the rendered spire. It was supposed to represent the Holy Crystal Tower residing in the Prayer Room of the Moon Palace. The pillar of translucent crystal that housed the soul of Lunar Prime itself. Also sharing the Prayer Room was the Sword of the Silver Crystal which was embedded in the stone of the chamber floor by an ancient warrior. A Sailor Senshi. In a way, Selene wished she was carrying that legendary stone sword with her into the Council Chamber. The elegant hall was nothing short of a battlefield.
A political battlefield.
The Great Council consisted of the planetary members of the Sol System. Each planet was considered a sovereign kingdom that owed allegience to the Royalty of Lunar Prime. It seemed simple enough in concept. At least in the beginning. At present the council was swollen to a hundred members.
When the Council was formed by Queen Serenity the First seven thousand years before, it consisted of only eight members. The planetary governments were still young and forming after the migration from other systems had begun to trickle off. However, as each world slowly expanded across their livable surfaces, of which in some cases were quite few, the first of the Great Districts were established.
Not every planet had its own royalty. Some worlds were governed by elected bodies, like Mercury and distant Pluto. Others established their own royal hierarchy. How each world was ruled was irrelevant. The one thing every world had total agreement was the demand for representation based on population. It was by population count alone that determined the number of Planetary Districts each world had. And each District had its own representative on the Council. This often caused an imbalance on the Council itself. Currently the planet with the most influence was Jupiter, boasting the largest population with thirty-three Districts and thus thirty-three representatives. Lunar Prime had only one District, and only one member of the Great Council. That was the Queen herself.
The end result was no planet had singular representation, except for Lunar Prime. In fact, the only planet that had zero representation was Earth. Earth also contained a single Planetary District, and that consisted of its great City State, Elysion. In a rare agreement between the majority of the other Planetary Districts, Earth was denied their council representation. The center for all native life in Sol System was denied a seat on the Great Council. That had rankled Selene's mother to no end.
It had been six months since Selene had ascended the Crystal Throne. In that time, the Great Council had taken it upon itself to usurp as much of the Queen's power as possible. They had taken advantage of the fact that Selene was only fourteen standard years old. Newer laws had been passed without consulting the Crystal Throne. New regulations. Council meetings were called without Selene's knowledge. Since any group gathering of the Council members can be considered official, provided two thirds of the council were present and it was occurring during the official session, it was fast becoming old hat to gather off-world. Without the queen. Many times Selene had rushed to the Council Chamber to discover it empty, to her chagrin. They were shutting her out.
It seemed that the shake-up of having a number of Council members arrested when Selene was crowned hadn't set well with the old men. They hated her. Despised her. They had supported Mars because he had promised them wealth. Prosperity. An experienced MAN to sit at the helm. To them she was simply a young child who never earned her position as a Councilor or as a Queen. Selene could almost hear the calls to abolish the Crown in favor of their 'democratic' council. Never mind the notion that each of them were multiple term electees who wouldn't likely give up their seats to any new blood. Selene found it immensely frustrating. After all those months of getting nowhere, Selene had even begun to question her own place. Why did she have to be in such a position?? She agreed with the Council insofar as she wasn't even a full adult yet. The crown that was supposed to weigh heavily upon her head felt insignificant. So she immersed herself in the Great Library of Lunar Prime. She told herself that she was researching. Learning the art of proper governance, but she knew she really was hiding. Even Yumiko could see it.
"If you let these bureaucrats walk all over you," Yumiko had warned, "then they will constantly do so for the duration of your reign."
"Then let them!" Selene shrieked. She spun around and stretched out her palm. The Silver Crystal flew from its pedestal to gently hover over her outstretched hand as she slowly drew it closer to herself, almost hugging it tightly to her chest. "I'm just not ready for this, Yumi. They stand in my way on every turn. Those thrice damned old men!"
Yumiko placed her hands on the young queen's shoulders and turned the girl around to face her.
"I can't pretend to understand what being a queen is like," Yumiko said, "but I've been in positions of leadership. Fools like those in the Great Council respect power. So show them yours."
With a sigh, Selene let Yumiko's hands fall from her shoulder as she turned and sent the Crystal back to its pedestal.
"I never expected to become queen so soon, Yumi. Even Mother was a full century old when she ascended the Crystal Throne. She had time to experience life. When do I get to do that? I just wanted to grow up and be happy." Selene cocked her head as she looked at the Moon Seneschal, a slight gleam in her deep blue eyes. "Why don't we run away together?"
Yumiko arched an elegant eyebrow at that. It was the closest that Selene had ever seen the other woman look surprised.
"I'm serious!" Selene felt excitement course through her veins. A feeling of adventure! "I could abdicate the throne! Those bastards on the Council are already shutting me out, so what difference would it make if we just left?"
The disapproval came off the Moon Seneschal in waves. It was a rare thing for Yumiko to allow Selene to sense her mood. It drained the excitement from Selene's body like air from a balloon.
"Don't be silly. It's unbecoming of you."
"Why not?" Selene asked, wishing she didn't sound so petulant.
Yumiko frowned and crossed her arms. "Selene, it's one thing to want to go out amongst the people. To understand what they want out of their Queen. But to run away from your responsibilities is wrong."
"No Selene," Yumiko cut her off, "You are Queen Serenity the Fifteenth. This is an unalterable fact and it is your burden to bear. The people of this solar system would never want to believe that their Queen abandoned them."
Selene resisted the urge to cry in frustration. She made her way back to her large bed and sat at the edge. She clenched her hands into fists and gritted her teeth.
"Fine. Leave me alone then. I wasn't serious anyways."
Yumiko slowly approached the bed, her face empty of all emotions. "Selene, whatever you decide to do, I will be there to support you. But I believe you have it in you to be a great ruler. You've proven that many times in the past. Don't throw away your mother's legacy."
"Those were different times. It was just the two of us together then, Yumi."
Yumiko knelt down and looked up into Selene's face.
"It's no different now," Yumiko paused for a moment, her gaze penetrating Selene's eyes. "Selene, what is the first responsibility of a Sailor Senshi?"
Selene glared back at the Moon Seneschal from beneath her elegant brows. "I am NOT a Senshi, Yumiko! The Senshi have been dead for thousands of years!"
Yumiko shook her head. "That's not the point. You still learned the Senshi Code of Honor. It is no different from what a true Queen must do to be a proper leader. Now, what is the first responsibility?"
Selene closed her eyes tightly and took a deep breath.
"Serve and protect those who cannot protect themselves."
"And who are those that the Queen protects?"
"The people of this kingdom."
"As long as you remember that, everything else will fall into place for you."
Selene turned away, "It's so easy for you to say," she muttered, "you're not the one on the hotseat."
"You're right," Yumiko agreed, "I'm not the one responsible for an entire kingdom. That would be you."
Yumiko stood up and made her way to the large ornate bedroom door. She paused with her hand on the doorhandle.
"I believe in you, Selene. The people will believe in you too."
This time Selene could feel the warmth emanating from the Moon Seneschal. A fierce and proud love.
The last sign of Yumiko's passage from the room was the large door softly clicking closed. Selene opened her eyes and stared at the door for a moment. Then she turned to look at the computer terminal on her desk, feeling unworthy of Yumiko's emotions.
I am not fit to wear this crown.
She moved to her desk and sat down, activating her terminal. The holographic interface scrolled up into a default window and a pleasant female voice spoke aloud.
Bio-identification verified. Good morning Selene. How may I assist you today?
"Give me all current political and social commentary and review articles cross-referenced as it pertains to the Crystal Throne and the Great Council for the last six months."
Selene paused for a moment, thinking, then continued.
"Appended request: Reference all Council resolutions with associated members and their individual assets into a compiled database format beginning from when I first took the throne. Oh, and get me my email while you're at it."
Processing requests. Current number of articles found: two hundred ninety three. Resolutions cross-referenced with individual assets: one thousand ninety-eight. One hundred and four messages in your Inbox.
Selene wondered if the answer she sought was buried somewhere in that data. The unasked question burned in her mind.
What am I protecting the people from?
The Council and its members had to have reasons for shutting her out. It wasn't merely a grab for power. Bloated governing bodies like that would always seek to protect their interests first, and if she read the Council's makeup like a heat map, the ones with the strongest interests would show up as the ones with the most exercised influence. Selene simply needed to discover those interests. They had to be almost right in front of her face.
While she waited for her email to scroll up, Selene let her eyes wander over to her large table where some books lay stacked next to the remnants of her dinner. She stared curiously at the dinner tray.
When was the last time I had bread with my meal?
It occurred to Selene that she couldn't honestly remember. Shaking her head, she turned back to her terminal.
Between her email and compiled databases, what Selene read made her eyes widen. It was early morning when Selene finally understood.
She had her answer.
Now, a month later, Selene stood in front of the large gilded doors of the Great Council Chamber. Her heart was beating rapidly as she waited for the Steward to announce her presence.
I'm going into battle now, Mother.
The long Royal scepter was clenched in Selene's hand. On its top, the Silver Crystal itself glowed with a faint light, almost encouraging the young monarch. She nodded to the two Lunar Guard that stood at the chamber doors. They opened the way to Selene's first battle.
Metis DeShaan of District Oxaan of Jupiter, glared down his long nose at the young girl in Queenly attire as she made her way across the Council chamber floor. His fellow Jupiter delegates were well aware of his intense dislike for the young Queen. He found it difficult to view her as anything more than a little child playing dress-up in her mommy's clothes.
No experience. No history. It didn't matter how well educated she was, she hadn't EARNED her position. Never WORKED for it. It was just handed to her on a silver platter.
Mars would have been much better suited to be King than this fool child. Or even better, electing a fellow Councilor to Prime Minister and pushing the Royal brat to the position of a figurehead. Metis allowed himself a small smile as he imagined taking an office like that.
Minister DeShaan. It had a nice ring to it. He already had a bill drafted, he just needed to present it. It wasn't the first time that such a notion had been entertained by the Great Council. Especially over the last few thousand years. Each time it come to vote, the ruling Queen Serenity had quashed it. Perhaps today it was time to present it again.
"Gentlemen," The Council Steward said, lightly tapping his crystal gavel upon his wooden podium, "Let us now come to order. Since her Majesty, Queen Serenity the Fifteenth has called this session, the Floor will go to her first." He nodded towards Selene. "Your Majesty."
Selene took a deep breath as she moved towards the center of the chamber. Then she looked around at the many pairs of eyes that were staring at her. More than a few contained ill-concealed hostility.
"Gentlemen of the Council," Selene began, "You must all be aware of the current shortages that have been affecting this system." She reached out and touched the holographic console before the podium, causing a large holographic image of several graphs and pie-charts to suddenly appear in the center of the chamber.
"As you can see, from the beginning of this year, wheat and grain output has nearly tripled on Earth, but intersystem exports have dropped noticably." she waved her hand and another chart appeared. "Reports of piracy from the Sol System Shipping Guild have grown in number significantly as well, but even those losses don't account for the surplus of product that should have still been available. Meanwhile prices have steadily gone up."
A large rumbling slowly grew from the gathered Councilors before one of them stood up to address the Floor. Selene recognized him as Trax Dagon from District Eleven on Mercury.
"Your Highness," Trax said, his eyes were a little wider than normal, "Are you sure that those output reports from Earth aren't a little exaggerated?"
"Councilor Dagon," Selene replied, raising one eyebrow, "What makes you ask that?"
Dagon wrung his hands and glanced around at the other Councilors in the chamber.
"Well, that would mean that the reports that were filed by the Earth & Grain Federation were false."
This was followed by angry mutterings from the other council members that slowly began to swell louder.
"Order, gentlemen!" The Steward cried, banging his gavel, "Order please! The Queen has the Floor!"
The voices slowly died down.
Selene nodded before speaking again. "You would be correct to assume that, Councilor Dagon," she remarked. She pointed her scepter towards the holodisplay. "These reports were filed by the Elysion Ministry of Agriculture. Strangely enough, they disappeared from the Central Data Repository almost immediately after they had been filed. I, however, was able to obtain them directly from the Ministry itself."
Metis finally had enough. He stood up and cleared his throat, causing all attention to be focused upon his person. He gazed down his nose at the young Queen.
"Young lady, this kingdom has disseminated information using the reports of the EGF for almost three thousand years. The information filed by the Elysion Ministry has always been Earth-centric and has never taken into account distribution and consumption on a system-wide scale. That is why we chartered the EGF in the first place."
Sounds of agreement began to float around Metis as he cocked his head and adopted an almost fatherly expression.
"Don't you think you've wasted enough of our time, my dear?"
Selene stared back at Metis, her face blank as sounds of agreement began to rise. A loud bang from her scepter to the floor shocked everyone's attention back to the young Queen.
"Actually, Councilor," Selene replied smoothly, "I haven't even begun yet. As of three weeks ago I issued an Executive Order calling for a complete investigation into the EGF's practices."
The chamber quickly filled with outraged cries.
"You can't do that!"
"How dare she!"
Selene banged her scepter again. This time the Silver Crystal atop it flashed brilliantly, briefly bathing the Council Chamber in white light.
"As per Council Law," Selene continued calmly, "I have informed you of this Order within the required four week time period. Now this Council has the option of invalidating my investigation by two-thirds vote, at which point I assure you gentlemen," Selene's eyes flashed dangerously, "I will ignore your decision."
Metis shakily leaned forward on his wooden desk. Anger clouded his mind as he glared at the young monarch.
"You have a lot of nerve," Metis sneered, "thinking that a mere child like you could actually dictate matters to the Great Council! Ignore our vote?? Preposterous!!"
Selene's sapphire eyes were like cold blue ice as she focused on the Councilor. The rest of the chamber quickly filled with the mutterings of the other council members.
"Councilor Metis," Selene began, "being as well versed in the laws set forth by Queen Serenity the First as you are, you should be aware that as long as I sit upon the Crystal Throne I am recognized as Queen of this system as well as sovereign ruler of Lunar Prime. And as Queen, I can, at any point I choose, issue Executive Order Twenty-One and completely dissolve this Council."
The Great Chamber fell silent again as the various council members stared at the young queen in surprise. Many Council members were quickly reevaluating their young Queen.
Didn't think I read the lawbooks, did you? Selene silently smirked to herself.
"Little girl," Metis replied slowly, "Surely you realize that if you issued that order, you would lose ninety percent of planetary support in this system!"
"Indeed," the young Queen said calmly, "but then again since I have ascended this throne, I haven't noticed any support to begin with. At least not from any of the Planetary Districts."
The combined voices of the many councilors in attendance rose into a cacophony of outrage and protests.
"Gentlemen!" The Council Steward cried, banging his crystal gavel down upon the podium again, "Gentlemen please! Please! We must have order! Her Majesty still has the Floor!"
The voices slowly began to die down as Selene glared out at the council chamber.
"Thank you, Steward," she said. She returned her arctic gaze to Councilor Metis. "Now that we've established the obvious deficiencies in my regime, let us return to the matter at hand. The EGF has been operating for three thousand years without any sort of oversight or internal audits on record. It was supposed to be a conglomeration of independent agricultural organizations."
"Now see here, child...!" Metis began angrily.
"Councilor Metis," Selene said with deadly calm, cutting off the sputtering Councilor. Her eyes glittered. "While I understand that my current age fails to match up to my current position, at least in your eyes, it does NOT change the fact that I am QUEEN Serenity the Fifteenth, and as such I am owed the appropriate RESPECT due to a ruling monarch."
Selene's eyes narrowed as she stared at Metis. Her meaning was crystal clear.
Continue to patronize me at your own peril, old man.
Metis's mouth snapped shut in surprise. That was no mere child staring him down.
That was a Queen.
"Proper government, gentlemen, is a system of checks and balances," Selene said, turning away from the Jupiter Councilor, "The Great Council is supposed to balance against the power of the Crystal Throne. YOU are SUPPOSED to be representing the people of this kingdom with proper oversight of kingdom charters just being one of your responsibilities!"
"Now wait a minute...!" Another Councilor said loudly, getting to his feet. Selene recognized him as Tethys Meritas of District Amarine on Uranus.
"The Queen has the Floor." The voice caused a hundred heads to turn almost as one. In the back sat one of the senior representatives. Councilor Primus Nix of District One on Pluto. As one of the oldest council members, Nix commanded a great deal of respect. Usually he remained quiet, but as many of the other senior councilors remembered, whenever Nix did speak, it was often wise to listen.
"Councilor Nix," Metis said, holding his hands up, "Surely we don't have to listen to this young..." he swallowed quietly, quickly glancing at Selene. "...Queen's fanciful meanderings or her petulant orders. We have been involved in governing this system for far longer than she has been alive!"
"The Queen has exercised her right in calling this Council session. And she has done an excellent job in shaking up this Council. I for one would like to hear the rest of what Her Majesty has to say," Nix replied. His hard crimson eyes flared down at Metis causing the Jupiter councilor to finally nod. Nix turned to Selene. "Please continue, Highness."
Selene took another deep breath before continuing.
"Earth has been denied representation on this Council. Doesn't anyone really wonder why?"
Numerous derogatory Earth remarks fluttered through the chamber. Selene held up her hand.
"Despite their Ministry's reports of triple output, there still have been shortages on Earth as well as many associated Districts that are represented here." Selene looked around, having gained greater attention from the council members. "As we know, Earth is the primary source of both wheat and grain exports in this solar system. This makes farm property on Earth incredibly valuable. Now given that information, can anyone here tell me why EARTH of all places would be affected by shortages?"
The councilors looked at each other. Metis and Tethys looked mildly uneasy while their fellow planetary representatives muttered amongst themselves.
"I shall tell you why," Selene continued, her eyes glinting, "As it turns out, there are more than a few neighboring star systems that currently regard Earth food exports, particularly grain and wheat, to be quite the delicacy. Now this esteemed Council drafted, voted on, and passed into a law that was signed by Queen Serenity the Fourteenth, Article One Hundred and Twenty-Four which explicitly states: 'When in times of shortage, domestic food products shall not be sold or exported out of system. This includes but is not limited to, meat, grain, wheat, etc.'"
"And there have been no exports!" Metis shouted, his face purple with fury. He leveled a long finger at Selene. "Where are you going with this??"
"Since Earth has no seated Councilors here," Selene replied, ignoring the Councilor's outburst, "then there is nobody protecting Earth interests. We've already established that there is no oversight in the EGF, in our COUNCIL CHARTERED FEDERATION. Therefore if some of the controlling entities in the EGF decided to purchase some of that civilian controlled property Earthside, ie FARMLAND, then not even the Elysion Ministry of Agriculture could stop the passing of that legal deed, since the EGF is the governing body for intersystem food distribution. Isn't that so, Councilor Metis?"
Metis growled, narrowing his eyes. "Regardless of who owns the land, the product is still not being shipped out of system!"
"Not legally, of course."
"What are you implying??"
Selene leveled her stare at Metis. "I'm implying that someone has attempted to corner the market on Earth exports. The reported piracy has also done wonders for wheat and grain prices."
"Your point?" Tethys said haughtily.
"Council members," Selene said, "This kingdom maintains one of the finest interplanetary and intergalactic fleets in this part of the galaxy. The idea that there are 'pirates' raiding our local shipping lanes is simply ludicrous and to my friends in the Shipping Guild, plainly insulting. No mere local pirates could assault a Guildliner. In fact, the Guild almost never reports any pirate attacks since they have more than sufficient ability to drive the local pirates off. However the Guild has lost a total of four ships this past year. Four ships that were carrying, of all things, wheat and grain. And imagine that, this Council has refused to authorize any investigation into those Guild reports."
The wash of voices in the council chamber rose as the various members began to argue. Selene hammered the bottom of the Moon Scepter loudly against the floor, the Silver Crystal flaring brightly again in response.
"I am NOT finished."
The chamber fell quiet.
Selene nodded as she glanced around. Then she continued.
"The preliminary findings of my ordered investigation have pointed to two people in this chamber. Two people who stand to benefit from these price hikes. They are Councilmen Tethys Meritas of D-Amarine-Uranus and Metis DeShaan of D-Oxaan-Jupiter."
Metis and Tethys both jumped to their feet.
"This is an OUTRAGE!" Metis boomed.
"No," Selene said in a cold voice, "What IS an outrage is that three quarters of all commercially viable farmland on Earth is controlled by two interplanetary corporations under the name of the EGF. Corporations that both you and Councilor Tethys own controlling interest in."
Selene held up a finger to tick off her points. "You purchased land rights to Earth farmland, spreading the ownership through your corporate subsidiaries, putting it under a smokescreen of the Earth & Grain Federation to hide it while you exerted your combined influences on this Council to make your actions perfectly legal. With your efforts this last seven months, you've almost completely legalized turning a Council chartered federation into a corporate interplanetary monopoly. All this without any Council oversight. I'm honestly surprised that the other members here failed to see the pattern."
The Council chamber fell quiet as various Councilmen turned to peer at Tethys and Metis. Surprise and realization was sinking into the Great Council.
Selene, however, was on a roll. "As if complete control of the wheat and grain market wasn't enough, you've been orchestrating the so-called 'piracy' in order to justify driving up the prices. Since many people in this system depend upon those exports in order to live, work and eat, they have had no choice but to pay your artificially inflated prices, and those that can't, including Earth, have been left to starve. Your 'stolen' wheat and grain has simply been shipped illegally out of system along with all the generated surplus. Surplus that was generated by ordering production to be tripled on all EGF 'property'. Seems like you've built yourselves a nice fat three-way profit margin, Councilmen. Oh wait, we can't forget the insurance claims bled from the Shipping Guild, can we?"
Metis sneered. "Where is your proof?"
Selene tapped her scepter twice against the floor. The great gilded doors of the Council Chamber opened and the Seneschal of the Moon walked in. Behind her where two Royal Marines with a ragged looking man between them. The mere presence of the Moon Seneschal was enough to drop the Council Chamber into dead silence.
Yumiko held up a wafer-sized data crystal. "Contained in this crystal is a complete record of the apprehension of one named Kelso DeShaan. It also contains a full data dump from the pirate vessel Notorious." She nodded towards Selene. "With your leave, Majesty."
18 Hours Earlier:
Captain Yavid Rourke of the Guildliner Gladius arched an eyebrow at the vessels that currently surrounded his ship.
"You have fifteen minutes to comply with our demands. Otherwise we will destroy your vessels."
Rourke shrugged. He glanced at his anxious pilot.
"Do what they say."
The pilot looked nervously at his control panel.
"Captain," he asked, "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
Rourke scratched his head, then chuckled.
"Not at all," Rourke replied, "but I have complete faith in that woman's abilities." He scowled. "Besides, we've already lost four vessels to those bastards. I hope they get what's coming to them."
The pilot sighed, then touched several buttons on his holographic display. "Alright, purging primary cargo hold."
From the belly of the Gladius, two mighty bay doors silently rolled open. The explosive release of oxygen from the hold propelled the contents out into space.
The four ships surrounding the Gladius were silent for a moment.
"Captain," the pilot said anxiously, "They're powering up weapons."
Rourke nodded. "As expected. Get us out of here."
The pilot's nimble fingers flew over the holographic interface and the stars on the main display suddenly stretched into white lines as the ship emergency warped away just as the disruptive beams converged on its former location.
Roald Abner calmly waited with the rest of the deck men for the cargo hold to re-pressurize before going out to inspect the latest acquisitions. Having only served on this vessel for a few months, he was still surprised at just how green the young crew were. Their captain was the worst of the bunch. Hell, what he named the ship was enough to annoy any experienced spacer.
Roald hated that name.
He strode among the shipping containers with the rest of the cargo workers. With any luck he would have a manifest created before the annoying--
"Mister Roald, what do we have today?" Roald's commlink suddenly chirped.
Roald sighed before thumbing his throat comm.
"I'm still inspecting the cargo, Captain, I'll need an hour at least before I can give you a full manifest."
"Well then... Carry on!" the commlink signed off.
Roald shook his head in irritation. He turned around to yell an order to one of the cargo hands when he realised something strange.
The hold was silent.
What the... where the hell is everyone?
Roald was sure that he entered the hold with at least ten other men. However now, other than the always-present thrum of the ships engines, the cargo hold was as silent as a tomb. He started to reach for his commlink when noticed that it too was also now missing.
"Excuse me," a soft contralto suddenly interrupted Roald's initial panic. He spun around to find himself facing a pretty young woman dressed in black. The woman's brown hair was braided and framed her slightly oval face while her deep brown eyes shone with a coldness that made Roald's bowels feel like they were turning to water.
"Who... wha??" Roald exclaimed.
The woman cocked her head slightly, regarding him with an icy look before speaking again.
"Before I incapacitate you and stack your body with the rest of the crew members, I wanted you to tell me who the captain of this vessel is."
Kelso DeShaan drummed his fingers on his armrest. The other bridgemembers ignored the noise and continued to go about their business. Kelso didn't care. It didn't bother him that most of the ships crew didn't like him. They didn't have to like him. They just had to do what he told them to do.
He groaned and stretched his back before slumping down in his chair. He hated waiting. Every time they raided a Guildliner, it was always exciting to see how much stuff they managed to get. Granted, destroying the last four liners after they dumped cargo was not what his father wanted him to do, but he felt it was necessary to cement his image.
I am a pirate. This is a pirate vessel.
Kelso glanced at the portside viewscreen to the three robotic drone vessels that accompanied his ship.
They are pirate vessels too.
Pirates sink ships. That's just what we do.
Inside, Kelso wanted to cackle with glee. There hadn't been a truly scary pirate since the end of the Black Angel's reign of terror eight years before. But there was a market for their cargo. A BIG market. Earth grain was really popular out-system. It made Kelso feel especially... piratey... whenever he met with one of those interstellar vessels. He even had his own nickname all picked out for when he took this enterprise to interstellar heights. The Black Devil, scourge of the galaxy.
When I build up my own armada, I'll raid whole planets!
The holographic commlink buzzed, distracting Kelso from his fantasy. He hit the button. The harsh-lined face of Roald Abner appeared before him.
"Ah, Mister Roald! Do you have my manifest ready?"
"Yes captain. Permission to enter the bridge?"
Kelso nodded towards the pilot who unlocked the bridgelift. "Permission granted Mister Roald. As you can see, a little politeness goes a long way."
The bridge doors hissed open and Kelso spun his command chair to look at his chief cargo officer.
"So what do you have for me Mister Roald?" Kelso said in a cheery voice.
Roald raised a pair of stun pistols and he strode forward systematically knocking out every member of the bridge crew with accurately placed shots. Kelso stared around at the quasi-carnage as crewmembers slumped over their consoles. He tried to stand up and run when he felt the toe of Roald's boot touch his forehead with the force of a heavy club, propelling him back into his seat. Roald held the barrel of one of the stun pistols under Kelso's chin. Kelso raised terrified eyes up to Roald's face. Then he felt his bladder let go.
Roald glanced down at the puddle of urine that was forming under the captain's chair. Then he removed what looked like an ornate pen from his top pocket. Kelso's eyes widened as his former cargo officer suddenly grew shorter, thinner, and a hell of a lot more feminine. The woman focused hard and cold brown eyes onto Kelso's face.
"Captain DeShaan, I presume."
Kelso's eyes widened even further in shock as his brained finally processed the identity of this woman.
The Black Angel!! It's the Black Angel!! What is she doing here?? Did she start up her career again??
Kelso opened his mouth to answer but all that came out was an expulsion of air that sounded suspiciously like a whine.
"You are hearby placed under arrest for the charge of piracy against the kingdom," the Black Angel continued, "Your vessels will be impounded and all personal assets seized. Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Kelso blinked in surprise. Then he took a deep breath.
"Do you have any idea who my father is??" he finally managed to exclaim.
Yumiko calmly removed the data crystal from the holographic emitter. There was dead silence in the council chamber as she walked over to the ragged man that sat pitifully on the polished stone floor. The man started sobbing loudly.
"Kelso," Yumiko said in a harsh voice, "Please tell the Council what you told me."
"My father told me to do it," Kelso whimpered, "He outfitted the Notorious with disruptor cannons and ordered the drones from out-system. I was s-s-supposed to raid the Shipping Guild for Earth grain and wheat... b-b-but I got carried away!"
"LIES!!" Metis boomed. His face had flushed a deep crimson and he hammered his fist against the wooden desk before him. "This is a completely fabricated sham to discredit me!"
Yumiko turned to regard Metis. Her eyes were empty and cold and they pulled Metis into their depths and sent a shiver running up his spine.
"You deny that this man is your son, Councilor?" Yumiko asked.
Selene approached the weeping man and knelt before him, leaning her long scepter against her shoulder. She reached out and gently took Kelso's face between her hands. Kelso slowly stopped weeping as he looked into the deep blue eyes of the Queen.
"Kelso DeShaan," Selene said softly, "perhaps now you understand the consequences of your actions. Being a pirate was not as romantic as you thought, was it?"
Kelso swallowed. "No Majesty, it was not," he whispered. He glanced over at the stone-faced Moon Seneschal. "It was not at all." Fresh tears began to spill from Kelso's eyes as he looked back into the gentle face of the Queen. "I'm so sorry."
Selene nodded, then released Kelso's face. She stood back up with her Moon Scepter and nodded towards the waiting Royal Marines before turning back to face the Council again.
"Kelso DeShaan will be brought before the Lunar Court to answer for his crimes." She pointed towards Metis and Tethys as several more Royal Marines entered the Council rows and approached their seats. "And so will the both of you."
Tethys suddenly lunged forward trying to hop over the rows in an attempt to get at Metis.
"You BASTARD! You told me this would work! That nothing would point to us!!" Tethys seethed as several Marines held him tightly.
Metis merely looked pale and sick in response.
The Great Council Chamber was silent after the two councilmen and one former pirate were led away.
"Councilors," Selene said, holding up another crystal data wafer, "Since the day I took the Crystal Throne members of this Council have repeatedly broken its own laws and committed crimes against the kingdom. I hold here enough evidence to implicate nearly one third of you in various crimes. Tethys and Metis were just the tip of the iceberg. I even have evidence that implicates even more of you in the attempted Mars Coup. Apparently not everyone was caught."
The crystal wafer suddenly burst into a blinding white light in the palm of Selene's hand. Within an instant, it had completely disappeared.
The members of the Great Council stared down at the young Queen in shock.
"Rather than arrest and prosecute those guilty parties," Selene continued calmly, "I've come up with a much better idea."
Selene gazed around the chamber at the many anxious faces. In the back, she could see old Councilor Nix looking amused and smiling.
"I hearby enact Executive Order Twenty-Eight!"
A crystal gavel slipped from nerveless fingers to hit the polished floor with an almost musical bang.
"Dissolution of this Council??" The Council Steward exclaimed in shock.
"No," Selene said, "Re-structuring. This council has become bloated and corrupt. So I am mandating immediate retirement for all council members and ordering a new election for all member seats. Oh, and I'm reducing the member count to nine only, including Earth of course. Going forward, each member world will be restricted to ONE council member."
Selene could barely suppress the grin that threated to bloom across her face as she gazed out at all the stunned old men.
"In other words, gentlemen. You are all officially FIRED."
It was good to be the Queen.
Selene waited until she got to her private chambers before spinning her Royal Scepter in her hands and doing a little victory dance.
"Selene," a soft contralto sounded from the door.
Selene stopped her dance in mid whirl to grin crazily at the Moon Seneschal.
"Did you see what I did, Yumi??" Selene exclaimed, "Did you?"
"What was this 'other evidence' that you had against the rest of the Council?" Yumiko asked, "If you had found something more, you should have given it to me so I could've acted upon it."
Selene waved her hand with a chuckle before sending the Silver Crystal floating from the top of her scepter to its stone pedestal.
"There was no other evidence," Selene replied, stepping into her massive closet to change her clothes.
Yumiko's eyebrows shot up in minor shock. "So you lied?"
Selene came out in fresh robes, untying her hair buns to let her silvery hair cascade down her back.
"I could feel guilt coming off every single one of them," she said, "like black waves. Even the Steward was feeling guilty! It made it easier to push for what I wanted."
Selene glanced back at the quiet Moon Seneschal for a moment.
"By the way, what did you do to DeShaan's son? He was completely terrified of you!"
Yumiko merely arched her eyebrow. "I simply explained to him that with privilege comes responsibility."
Selene watched the other woman for a moment, then turned away with a shrug and fluffed out her hair.
"At any rate, the first order of business, after prosecuting Metis and Tethys, and trying your poor pirate for the deaths he caused, is to formerly dissolve the EGF and return full control of all Earth farmland to the Elysion Ministry of Agriculture. By the time all nine planets get their new Councilors chosen, I'll have made the changes I wanted to make."
Selene crossed her arms and grinned evilly at herself in her carved crystal wall mirror.
"It will be interesting to see how each world choses a Councilor," she remarked, "I know King Terras in Elysion will be most excited to finally send an Earth representative."
"Selene," the Moon Seneschal's voice suddenly came from right next to Selene and she suddenly found herself wrapped in a warm hug.
"I'm proud of you, my Queen," Yumiko whispered into Selene's ear. She pushed herself back to gaze into Selene's sapphire orbs with a small smile. "Your mother would be proud of you too. You did well."
Selene took Yumiko's hand in her own and pressed it to her face. "It's going to get worse before it gets better. I'm sorry for being such a fool before. Do you promise to stay by my side Yumi?"
"Always and forever, sister."
A few minutes after Yumiko left, Selene sat staring at her reflection in the mirror. It wasn't the youthful timid face that she was accustomed to. Instead she could see her mother staring back at her. Strong and proud.
I did it, Mother.
Today, I have finally become worthy of the title of Queen Serenity.