Written by Chuckg
The four members of the Inner Circle sat silently in the darkened conference room, the Overlord pacing slowly behind their chairs. The slow waves of seething anger shimmered from the Overlord like a mirage in a desert at noon. The tension in the room was too thick to cut with a lightsaber.
"Before we start with the explanations, recriminations, pleading for mercy, and all-around general conversation, I think I'd best say a few words about our status.
"One. Tanith and the leaders of the Rebellion have successfully escaped. Admittedly, Boarding Party Alpha gained enough data on the _Andromeda Ascendant's_ internal defenses that the next time we place troops on board her, she will be in for a considerably rougher time of it, but...
Two. Khazan was destroyed, not captured. I realize that the original mission orders allowed for that possibility... but not as the first option. And I did *not* make provision for the entire dimensional nexus to be destroyed with it!"
The Overlord, having noticed that his voice was starting to be raised, took a deep breath before continuing. He began moving towards the head of the table.
"Three. We captured nothing useful from Khazan's planetary surface. The population and physical loot was all obliterated, and the Meddler was ahead of us in regards to stealing the data. Our recovery of the archives of Khazan will be decidedly partial, and that only if our lengthy and involved interrogations of the captured archivists successfully bears fruit... an uncertain proposition at best.
"*Four*. Phase World and its surrounding cosmos was also destroyed. If any of you actually need an explanation as to why that is a bad thing...?"
The Overlord let the threat trail off unspoken. Fixing them all with his gaze, he sat down in his chair and paused briefly before continuing.
"And last, but certainly not least, five. Almost two-thirds of the entire Dominion fleet is destroyed. Lost with all hands."
A momentary pause that felt like eternity passed before he spoke again.
"Let us dispense with the possibility that I might not be making myself clear."
With one swift blow of his clenched fist, the Overlord suddenly shattered the entire conference table into flaming splinters. The Inner Circle barely managed to avoid flinching.
"If I do not receive a satisfactory explanation for this fiasco, some of you are going to start dying. And if you're *extremely* fortunate, someday you might actually *finish* dying.
"In situations like this, I've found that it is best to solicit comments in inverse order of rank. It helps to prevent the testimony of a subordinate from being unduly influenced by what a superior has already said."
Written by Z-Woman
"It was then that I was attacked by a squadron of robots that seemed to come completely out of nowhere, as if they were suddenly created at the last minute to deal with me. They had even matched my speed, as if they expected to run into an enemy they had dealt with a long time ago.
"I also reasoned that they knew my location and were teleporting all personnel away from my location. Finding my effectiveness effectively ripped out from under me, I decided to try a little collateral damage. I destroyed a few machines in engineering, hoping to injure either teleportation or navigation, but I have no idea what damage, if any, I did cause.
"The robots were quickly destroyed by the fires of my Pheonix force,after which I was electrocuted by the ship's security. I then teleported to the sick bay, the one place where they were least likely to move the inhabitants. My fires managed to destroy about 10 of the injured, though none of them were large targets, and many of them were likely from the war below or those fought earlier.
"I then proceeded to clear out their medical supplies, using some on my own wounds. Though they are likely to have backup medical supplies, I did manage to find a magic sword with the symbol of an open hand on it. I've managed to cross reference it with the books of a homeworld author named Fred Saberhagen, the books of swords, specifically. It is called Woundhealer, and when plunged into a body, it cures them of whatever ailment they have, other than death and age, but can not be used to injure. While this could be useful to me as to make me virtually invulnerable on missions, it does have many other uses, and so I relinquish any ownership I may have had to the Overlord.
"After I got on the ship, I was reamed out by the vizier for, as far as I can tell, succeeding in my mission and getting injured.
Written by Chuckg
"Chaos Bringer Yeoman? Proceed."
Written by Yeoman
"Upon my arrival on the Andromeda I was confronted with my double. I was unable to cause and significant harm to him, but Iwas able to tie him up for some time, keeping one of the Andromeda officer's out of any other battles.
"After that I was able to dispose of one of the Andromeda's engineers, at which point I got the call to back up Z-Woman. By the time I got to the medical bay, she had already retreated. Soon after I was confronted with two of the Andromeda officers. Individually I could have defeated them, but I thought that against two pulling out was a better idea."
The Overlord nodded, "MunchKING? Go."
Written by The MunchKING
"I wish to claim that my mission, was a success unmitigated by anything within my control. Upon my arrival, we immeditaly found and dealt with the majority of the Rebel troops, almost immediatly. As you ordered, I found, declared, then slew, the traitor, Jaffa. I then allowed percisely ONE Rebel to escape, to spread this disheartening propiganda to the Rebels. We then siezed control of the Spaceport, destroying several Enemy ships... and *cough* commandeering others. We had also sucured the Databases, and accompanning personal when the planet began breaking up. We salveged what we could telport off, Sir.
All oposition on Kazahan WAS destroyed or captured and awaiting your interigatiors, Sir."
The MunchKING snaps to attention, trying to look buisnesslike and unemotional.
Written by Locke
Nor yet does he move.So still,so silent he might be thought some especially lifelike statue.
His gaze is fixed upon the unblinking eyes of the Overlord,one who has been his Master,his Soverign and his God.
If fear has come to dwell in this room,this chamber it is not yet to be found in the Grand Vizier.
"Very well,Overlord....I suppose some sort of... clear and concise explanation for this... debacle ...ought to be forthcoming
"Let us dispense with the matters of slight consequence.The MunchKING,Chaos-Bringer Yeoman and Z-Woman accomplished their respective missions.Their actions do not merit discipline.If there must be a reprimand,if judgement must be summoned upon their deeds...I the Grand Vizier shall bear the punishment in their stead
"We must reward success and some small measure of success was achieved by these the lesser members of the Inner Circle
"And now to the catalogue of disasters.That catalogue I fear is not yet complete....
"My Overlord it would seem...I have not been myself.You will recall the ah 'Techno-Zombie Project" .That experiment lies at the root of these troubles.Concretely. with the half-breed scientest,yes the Vulcan.His conversion it would seem was less successful then I had judged.
"Who would have thought that his katra would survive...or that his strength,that his disciplines would have been sufficient to endure...or that I who have bested the gods of myth would fall to some mere alien/human hybrid...that is I who fell under some measure of his mental domination.
"The Vulcan it would seem had the upper hand...and led the Fleet into catastrophe using myself as his vessel.
"In the aftermath of the catastrophe my rage could not be contained and I broke free of his control.You may inspect the remains in the lab...the facilities are quite blood-stained.
"He was an opponent of cunning and resolve who has cost us dear.I suspect his plans were large indeed but they are forestalled...he at least is done as a threat to you.
"It is not for me to say if our storied association is at an end my Overlord.That decison is yours alone to make.Dead I suppose I serve some sort of example for others.Alive I might yet be of some small use,some minor expediency.
"To your ends your purposes your goals I have dedicated myself and pledged to serve you in death as in life.I chose to do so freely and regret nothing.And your ends I will serve no matter what fate is judged upon me.
It would appear...Charles...that my wyrd is indeed in your hands"
Written by Chuckg (& The MunchKING)
The Overlord stood as still as a stone for several moments. On any other entity, the expression on his face would have been called "shock".
Not that the Overlord was shocked, of course. Merely... surprised.
"So what you are telling me is that... the revenant of your own laboratory experiment, with access only to fragments of his own mind and powers, was able to put you under his spell. And using that, the ghost of Captain Spock -- via diverse and subtle suggestions -- was able to single-handedly destroy more Dominion Sphere-Ships than the combined firepower of a thousand universes has ever managed to do."
The Overlord smiled ruefully.
"Oh, to have had that mind working for *me*. I am literally in awe of his accomplishments."
His expression turned sterner than cold-forged iron as he continued to stare at his Grand Vizier.
"Not that he didn't have the aid of going up against an adversary who was an absolute idiot.
"I will not waste my breath asking you how this incredible, extraordinary act of bungling could possibly have happened. You were an anencephalic incompetent, incapable of taking even the simplest of precautions.... *that* is how it happened. Combined with a blind, unquestioning arrogance worthy of the last several thousand capering madmen of pretenders to my throne that I have crushed over time. "
The force of his gaze began to make the air around Locke roil and seethe, as the carpet under his feet began to smolder. The other members of the Inner Circle had already quietly raised every defensive field of which they were capable. Rippling waves of black mana began to radiate outward from the sealed and buried conference vault, sterilizing the very bacteria from the air for hundreds of yards around. All servitors and troops had long since withdrawn from the danger zone.
"It is said that one should not important make decisions in anger. I propose to ignore this advice entirely -- because if I did not so ignore it, I would never make any decisions concerning you at all, not even unto the End of Time."
Without a single change of expression, the Overlord punched Locke through the wall of the vault.
"From the very beginning, you had always been my most faithful servant. Never before had you failed me. Always, you had served me well."
The Overlord paused over Locke's body, with his fist still raised.
"And therein, it would seem, lies the error. Always before, I had asked you to *serve*. This was the first matter of import for which I had ever required you to *lead*."
The fist came down, slamming Locke's kneeling form brutally into the ground.
"And you could not command even your own constructs, much less mine. You failed, and the magnitude of your failure was greater than any previously imagined in the Multiverse."
As Locke lay on the ground, bleeding, trying to catch his breath, the Overlord stood over him and thoughtfully rested his hand on his chin.
"Very well then. A follower is all you are good for. A follower is all you shall ever be."
The Overlord turned to face the three other members of the Inner Circle, which had followed him out through the hole in the vault's wall. He quietly spoke.
"Know this, all who serve the Dominion. Locke is Grand Vizier no more."
In a booming voice the Overlord continued.
"Let his titles be stripped, his office and station be removed, his authority be utterly gone for he has utterly failed my trust in regards to using it well! Let him serve at tasks only with his own hands, and let no other force of the Dominion be bound to obey his orders!"
The Overlord continued on at in a normal tone of voice.
"And now, Locke, with no underlings or constructs to fix the blame upon, with no followers that you can point to and say "No, there the failure lies"... now we shall we see what *you* are good for. You, and you alone."
"Lieutenant MunchKING? You are hereby designated as Master Of the Forces. You shall command all in my Empire that may be needed for the tasks that I will set you and yours, and you may speak in the Overlord's name and with the Overlord's authority until such time as I rescind these powers."
The MUnchKIng snapped to attention, holding up his sword and Paladin Shield. "YES Sir, Thank you Sir!"
"Chaos Bringer Yeoman? With MunchKING's ascension, his prior office is left vacant. You shall succeed him as the Overlord's Fist, and shall enjoy the same station and seniority that he did."
"Z-Woman? You shall remain Royal Assassin, and be also known as our Left Hand, to enjoy equal rank alongside the Chaos Bringer. Both of you shall serve and assist MunchKING."
"And Locke? You're going to tag along after them and try to find some way to make yourself useful. Perhaps with those probability powers you've obviously let yourself get far too stale practicing with recently. And I would strongly suggest that you find *some* way to make yourself useful -- as the authority conferred by MunchKING's new status includes the authority to execute anyone who gets in the way of him or his mission."
The Inner Circle stood still, stunned by their respective promotions and demotions. Before they could react, the Overlord continued.
"First off, we have a security matter to attend to. Z-Woman, you said in your report that you had captured one of the Twelve -- Woundhealer, to be precise. What you apparently did not know was that the Twelve are linked to each other. They will be using Wayfinder to track it.
You will immediately place Woundhealer back on the flagship if it is not still there. The fleet will then depart on a journey to and through several waypoints of my calculation, a journey intended to make it appear as if its stop at Ultimus was merely a stopover and not the final dsetination. It's eventual destination will be the *new* staging area for the conquest of the disputed universes, as soon as we finish selecting and building it."
"Second off, and much more importantly, we have a new mission for the Circle."
"Find. My. Orb."
"MunchKING? Take my two other lieutenants... and your new slave... with you. Take whatever and whoever else you think you need. Just try not to *waste* all of it. Now *go*!"
The MunchKING's eyes lit up. "Yes Sir! I shall began at once! The Orb is as good as under your control!" He then quickly turned to leave.
Hurriedly, the Inner Circle turned to go. The Overlord's silky-smooth voice stopped them in their tracks.
"Wait. I forgot one minor detail."
He turned to stare at the battered form of Locke.
"I forgot to punish him for his incompetence. Admittedly, we don't have time now for all of it, but I can at least make a token beginning."
Locke screamed and crumpled to the ground as his own probability-warping powers were turned against him, to produce the highly improbable effect of every pain receptor in his body firing at once.
"I do hope you didn't have anything in the next several hours that urgently required his services."
Smiling at his own witticism, the Overlord turned and left.
Written by The MunchKING
"Well, that was... interesting... Now I guess we really MUST find that Orb quickly before the Overlord grows impatient."
He turns to the others. Z-Woman, you have your orders. I would like the flagship ready to go as soon as possible!
CBY, make sure our troops are ready. We must strike hard and fast, if we are to suceed before those puny Rebels. They CANNOT get their hands on it, or it would be DISASTEROUS.
the MunchKING stormed off in a different direction. He had something he had to check up on, before he moved out.
Written by Yeoman
"Gir, get me the records on what's left of the fleet. Inform all captains that they shold be ready to depart at a moments notice"
Then The Chaos Bringer turened to find his assistent busy eating a pizza. Box and all.
"Sigh. Nevermind. I'll do it myself."