Written by Chuckg
As the few, scattered remnants of the Khazan Assault Fleet settled into their positions around Ultimus, the Dyson Sphere that was the Overlord's capital, four very nervous beings gathered in the conference chamber off of the bridge of the flagship. Powerful and terrible they were, each one of them incredibly cunning and/or vicious in their own way. Each one of them was the sort of entity that you would never imagine the word "nervous" applying to. None of them had ever imagined the word applying to them either.
But the Inner Circle had never before had such an abject failure to report to their Overlord.
Written by Locke
The Minions report to the Grand Vizier.He paces,the others sit.
(The Brute MunchKING explains his failure to locate Tanith.)
*So let me understand MunchKING you did not personally encounter our dear sweet rebel...*
'Correct...in the chaos an opportunity did not arise.We have gone over this a dozen times...the sensor logs...that is the surviving logs corroborate me...'
*Brute you might be my but hardly a completely witless fool...you were adequately equipped to locate and destroy her.Your needs were provided for!*
'My pleas for more surveillance technologies,more sensor capacity were unheeded... that will be in the communications logs as well ..you spent that capability on your own projects...I needed assets you refused to provide.Assets you hoarded while our trooops were left fumbling about'
*It's not my job to baby sit you and I am the judge of your requirements!I've studied the energy readings...you must be blind as to have missed her.She had to have been right under your nose.Idiot!*
*And of course in the chaos you garnered no clue as to her destination,no slender lead?Of course not.*
'I am.. as you constantly remind me.. but a simple half-witted soldier Lord.....it is you our too clever by half Vizier who is the intelligence analyst, the all-knowing spymaster...I am forced to rely upon you to guide my hands'And look what a farce that turned out to be.!'
*Yes yes and so you will report to the Overlord no doubt...you are not such an imbecile as to assume any measure of blame for this set-back...no you'll see to it I alone am blamed*
'Set-back?! I did not lead half of the Imperial Fleet into disaster and for what?Set-back!You were told to bring a single sphere to the objective and you brought a Fleet capable of shattering galaxies.Half the Fleet is stardust!And you call that a set-back?And for what?What do you have to show for it?'There isn't a deckhand who hasn't heard that your prescious archive data-cubes were wiped clean.What do you propose to do with them?Present them as paperweights for his desk?!'
*The project much like the battle was not without risk.Success in this matter could never be quaranteed.We can yet gain some measure of insight into their cryptological measures their methodolgy...I assure you this contingency was provided for...we will yet be rewarded-
(A new voice that.The woman.The assassin.His master's plaything,his newest toy.So shy and retiring, a woman of so few words.)
*Oh yes our royal Assassin.The one who had the gift of Sinanju the distilled ancient craft of 5,000 years poured into her empty head?We would have done better to pour the Munchking's piss into a bottle and serve it instead of wine at dinner!!The Masters do not yield so easily to flesh wounds...your disciplines alone were adequate to substain you...why did you flee to the medical unit...who were you meeting there...do you think I am so easily deceived?*
(The bust of Julius Caesar,adamantine dents a wall)
'You accuss me of treason my lord...Vizier...how easily the word leaps to your mouth..I was wounded...I required aid...I need not defend that.'
(Calm she remains and cooly sitting.Does she smile)
'Yes the Vizier does bandy the word about.One might think he was fixated on the subject'
(Oh yes Yeoman what did he call himself?Of course.Chaos-Bringer.How apt.)
*And what my dear Yeoman did you contribute to this battle beyond your childish yammering?Why I do not see the head of Tanith nor of the brat Rune..and where is that damned ship?If you're so clever tell me what you have done to find ANDROMEDA*
'the measures have been detailed as well you know.Did you bother reading my situation report?'
*Read it?I would have had an easier time deciphering the random typings of drunken monkeys!!*
'Your insults resolve nothing..how quickly you seek scapegoats My conduct likewise...I need not fear the Overlord's wrath...the fleet command was yours the deployments the operational campaign ...I councilled against this absurd concentration of...overkill is such an inadequate word to describe this hideous farce of yours'
Does the MunchKING imagine it or has this spacious chamber grown small and confined?He who fears nothing but the Overlord...what feels he now?Surely it is not fear?
*I'm still Grand Vizier...Have you forgotten to whom you speak!?!I who have stood beside the Overlord as we assaulted self styled gods in their high heavens.I who have marched through ten thousands worlds and lay them waste!*
And of Z-woman?In her memories are the thoughts of the Master Chiun who has looked upon Shiva the Destroyer of Worlds...he is the merest of myths ...what manner of Power has the Vizier summoned.For a moment...
*Do not mistake me for some addled fool the Overlord regards as a beloved pet that has shat on his carpet!*
And our clever witty Yeoman...where are his witticisms now...his sparkling repartee?
*There is naught but the Overlord himself in all the marches of creation who can stand against me in battle.Do not be so eager to imagine yourself in my place Yeoman.The olden Powers of yore who thought to contend with me are forgotten and still I live.Do not imagine you can prevail against me.Do not try my temper!*
Stygian Blackness fills the conference room.The cyclone pounding hammering torrent sound of a single voice and eyes that burn more brightly then Khazan before her death.And of those who would be his accusers?They sit ever so silent,dead and dying ,weightless leaves hapless before the storm...
*Remember this moment fools and remember it well.*
*I and I alone have stood by the Master in life and in death,in our beginning time when we knew aught of power and in the fullness of power over all the marches of creation.He does not forget nor shall he ever.*
*His wrath will pass in time.This too shall be forgiven.I shall stand at his side again in the position of honor as of old*
*But my temper is no so easily appeased...you'll consider the fires of Hell itself a soothing balm before I'm done with you.*
*In death or in life you'll find no safe haven from me*
NOW GET OUT ALL OF YOU.
Written by The MunchKING
Ohh And I'd like to add that while Tanith and the Andromeda may have been mission objecteves for you, they were expressly not mine... I actually fufilled my mission objects, and admirably...
Written by Z-woman
Before leaving, she mentioned to Locke, "I did accomplish my objectives, albeit barely. It was more than the pain of millions of volts of electricity that caused me to retreat. They had robbed me of my effectiveness by not allowing me to get near any of them, I wouldn't have been any more effective had I stayed. The Overlord, at least, will understand this."
As she walked out, she added under her breath "I might try to backstab him, get him killed by the Overlord, if he wasn't doing such a good job of it himself. I came out of this encounter with a magic sword, and he came out short over half the fleet. Someone as intelligent as the Overlord isn't going to believe his attempts to shift the blame."
Written by Yeoman
"You would do well to remember that I have no designs on you position. I fought Tanith with incompent minions once before. I lost.
"However, I joined The Overlord and The MunchKing. It is only their orders that make me follow you. It is they who have my loyalty. I bid you good day. Come along Gir."
With that The Chaos Bringer swept out of the room, his robotic assisent quickly following while eating nochoes.
Written by Z-woman
Since every member felt it necessary to leave their own seperate parting shots, Z-woman decided it would be necessary to talk to each of her peers seperately, leaving out the Vizier. It was Yeoman she went to first.
"I am extremely uncomfortable with the words I am about to say, but it occurs to me that, though the Overlord is super intelligent, that does not necessarily mean he expects us to be stupid. The Grand Vizier has already sacrificed over half the Overlord's fleet without a sign of regret. What is to stop him from doing the same to us? It occurs to me that Locke may be a very dangerous idiot indeed.
"He has already made it clear that he will not hesitate to try and use us to deflect blame from himself. He believes himself both blameless and perfect, and I am unwilling to sacrifice myself for his perfection. The Overlord has been known to test us before, could that be happening now?
"Do not get me wrong, I am not talking rebellion against the Overlord, nor am I talking rebellion against the Vizier, but if it becomes necessary to ignore one of the Viziers orders, it would certainly help to have the others backing one of us up. If it comes down to the Overlord choosing between one loyal minion and three loyal minions, the odds would be more in our favor than they would be in the case of any one of us. This is not an alliance or a conspiracy to overthrow the Vizier, mind you, merely a group to protect our own interests.
"If you do not agree with my words, I will not repeat these words to anyone else, and will not follow them up. But if you agree with me, that idiodicy should not not be left unchecked, We may go to MunchKing, and see how he feels."
Z-woman waited for the Chaos Bringer's reply.
Written by Yeoman
"Know this, I serve The Overlord and The MunchKing. Both have done well by me, and are powerful in ways even a master of The Dark Side cannot reach. Should the Vizier give an order that would deprive either of them valuable underlings like ourselves...
"Yes, I think telling him when he can shove it would be a splendid plan."
Written by Z-woman
Yeoman and Z-woman had almost finished explaining the proposal to MunchKing.
"As you can see, there is no reason for a full blown alliance against the Vizier. We may be able to discredit him, but he is doing that job fine for himself. It would be a waste of our energy. We need only be ready to stand against him should he try any trouble. Let him start the game, we just will already have formed the teams."
They waited for MunchKing's reply.
Written by The MunchKING
"I serve... but one man. The Overlord himself. HIS orders are to obeyed without question or hesitation, even to the destruction of my own being. The Vizier?? An overstuffed popinjay."
He glanced around as if scouring the inner walls for listening devices, or recording equipment. Speaking louder he added.
"Any order from the Overlord is of Primary importance. Any orders the vizier gives, are of Secondary Importance."
With this he narrowed his eyes, and looked deep into Yeoman's, and Z-woman's. He hoped they understood what he was saying... And what he wasn't.
"I wouldn't be CAUGHT dead plotting against the Vizier. If the Overlord is displeased with his performance... So be it. I shall carry out any orders I'm given... Otherwise, The Vizer will be an extremely... LUCKY... man...
Now, if you'll excuse me?"
The MunchKING nodded, and turned on his heel. He walked down the corridor, wondering about what would happen apon their arrival.
Written by Z-woman
"Munchking, there shall be no plotting, no meetings, no agenda. Those would be not only suicidal but totally unnecessary. There would simply be the unspoken agreement that we are on eachothers' side."
Written by Chuckg
... and before the MunchKING could get more than a few paces down the corridor, or Grand Vizier Locke could do more than start to open the conference room door to follow the Overlord's Fist, his deputy, or the Royal Assassin out into the hall, a single ice-cold and evenly modulated voice froze all of them in their tracks. A voice heard not only with the ears but in one's very bones, and with one's very soul.
"The Inner Circle will board Our shuttle and return to Ultimus with Us at once."
Slowly and with great trepidation, all present turned to face the Overlord.
"We have a great deal to discuss."
Before any could reply, the Overlord turned and stepped back through the door leading into the hallway from the flag bridge. Wordlessly, the four members of the Inner Circle fell in behind him and followed him to the admiral's shuttle bay. Accompanied by a small, discreet honor guard of a hundred Legion troopers, the shuttle swiftly lifted off and began the return journey down to the surface of Ultimus and the Overlord's palace.
The entire trip back was spent in absolute silence.