Federation-Apocalypse Session 201b – Draconic Circumstances

Markov was momentarily bemused when his coalition-allies asked about how he’d gotten his hatchlings so organized and useful. That was mostly Felan and his statues of course – and the fact that they had some extra powers that were useful in themselves – but that would call for rather more explanations than he wanted to give. Besides, Felan was very young as of yet; if he got put in charge of his allies creches he might get over-enthusiastic about eliminating potential rivals a bit too early and get into trouble…

He settled for promoting Aillil’s program and hoping that nobody asked about the more advanced abilities. Maybe he’d talk about Felan in a couple of years after the boy had had a chance to learn more patience!

Hm… eventually, of course, the kids would catch on to the fact that he was cheating by reading their motives with telepathy – but he had shipped his young witch off to Kadia and psionics were pretty rare amongst the metallics and chromatics!

For example, one of the girls was starting to panic; she’d lost several dominance-training fights in a row… That wasn’t too surprising really; her talents seemed to run towards social – and financial – manipulation rather than combat (that would make her a REALLY valuable manager some day!) But she was gradually becoming convinced that she’d be going up for sale soon if she didn’t run…

He’d never really realized before just how close to panic most hatchlings lived! He’d given the hatchlings some fairly heavy-duty promises and reassurances about not enslaving them for dominance-battle losses… It wasn’t like he couldn’t come up with some other excuse of course – but maybe probing their minds so much had been a mistake. It… would actually be hard to dispose of any of them now. No wonder telepathy was so widely disapproved of within the Empire! He should have known better!

He actually went to some effort to reassure the girl – and set up a buyback fund for if any of them DID run off and get captured. After all, their special talents DID make them pretty valuable even as slaves!

Meanwhile, the great powers of the Gold clan had been evaluating Philsantias’s reports – and a few additional sources of information. They needed a final conclusion; the Empire was not going to survive if the classical chromatics ruled for seven thousand years, treaty or no treaty!

The youngster… was a typical red when it came to his greed and to his dominance-behavior. His collection of slaves, trophies, and concubines was approaching – or perhaps, given the many names he was operating under, was already setting a new standard for – the legendary mark. His evil was far more questionable however; his processing machines could be set to cause very little pain during the enslavement process. Even the (normally-locked) advanced options didn’t cause much more pain than a classical binding ritual – and the slaves were pain-free, and happy, afterwards. His enslaved rivals didn’t even seem to wish that they’d won!

Enough pain to say “you REALLY don’t want this to happen” – and exceptional mercy after that. Under Ailill’s program… dragons would remain supreme, their competence level undiluted – and yet they would increase in number by a factor of ten or more, almost all hatchlings would get to live and be happy, and the dominance instincts of the winners would still be satisfied.

In most ways except the greed… Ailill was certainly an atypical red – and might well be merely pretending to be one (they weren’t quite sure how an imposter melded so seamlessly into existing families, but it had happened before), but however he was doing that, it went deeply enough to give him dragon instincts and let him father hundreds of hatchlings. If he had the power to back up his claim to be a dragon, that was good enough. The precedents were on his side…

And if he really HAD defeated more than thirty well-prepared challengers, including several older dragons, in simultaneous battle… That made him an atrocity of power.

Easily strong – and SANE – enough to hold the throne if he could be brought to it.

The silvers who had been plotting a direct rebellion – and who were now screaming in some of Ailill’s processing machines for the amusement of the Emperor or were in the imperial cells awaiting their turns to scream – had been foolish. The Treaty had to be upheld; it was the foundation of the Empire. But nowhere did it say that the Red holding the throne had to be a natural red, or evil, or a draconic elder – merely that he had to be accepted by the red clans. Humans and elves and such often got their realms to run with a youthful ruler; why couldn’t the Empire accomplish the same feat?

Markov, of course, was still scheming. His coalition now controlled most of the southern Srikanthi Mountains of Hiandor – and further challenges in the area were few and far between. If he wanted to keep expanding, he’d be running up against older and larger coalitions – and for that he’d want to have his own domains well settled first.

Besides… He needed to pick up more metallics. Some more of those as concubines would be nice. He’d have to open up some extrastellar operations beyond the local area for that though; Hiandor WAS a very chromatically-dominated world… Fortunately, there were plenty of metallic-dominate worlds only a few steps away on the Imperial gateway network!

You could go by ship of course, but they teleported too, so there wasn’t that much difference there! Except for planetary assaults, ships were gradually going obsolete as the gateway network expanded…

Hm… Technically it would be quite legal to establish a holding on a metallic world. The locals wouldn’t LIKE a chromatic coming in – although enough money could smooth over some of that – and he could just challenge someone who’d never heard of him and was too incautious to check to establish a base.

He’d be likely to draw further challenges, harassment, and social ostracism though. Still, since a chromatic seizing a bunch of metallic females was just helping to produce more metallics, there was likely to be less panic about it than there might be.

Well, that was about what he would have expected…

He set some of the Thralls to researching whether or not there were any particularly inattentive metallics – ones who foolishly accepted challenges without doing much checking – on the more convenient metallic worlds.

Marty was willing to help from the Kadia end there, even if he wasn’t too pleased with Markov’s enslavement of Tethen… That wasn’t at all what he’d promised the boy! Even if his current master was surprisingly kind to sibling-slaves (especially for a red), and (what with the conditioning, pleasure-stimulus, and neural wiring happy added to the Thrall-happy) he’d probably need addiction treatment later on, it still wasn’t what he’d advertised… He’d have to make it up to the boy later!

Still, when you were dealing with a Thrall, that sort of thing was easily correctable in Kadia and there was guaranteed to be plenty of “later”. It was really HARD to make an irretrievable blunders when it came to Thralls…

And much as he hated to say it – especially when it involved one of his kids – all his other kids who would have to be growing up in the Dragon Empire took priority; the Thrall-boy was safe. THEY weren’t – and he (or Markov) would need a much wider territorial base to undertake operations against the Emperor!

Hmm… There was a very strong correlation between REALLY reckless challenge-making and accepting and territories and individuals that… did not exist in the Kadia-based database copy of six months ago. There were others too – but newcomers intoxicated with their new ID’s seemed to tend to be pretty bad about it. Evidently the realm was becoming more popular. Was that a side effect of Kevin’s “get dragons souls” campaigns? He WAS advertising dragons, and the Dragon Empire, and opening gates there, and building up the realm by pouring power into it. Evidently it was working on more levels than one.

Marty wasn’t entirely sure how he felt about that, but it did mean more opportunities for Markov – as well as more people getting to… experience a good portion of a dragon-lifetime as slaves.

Still, he was beginning to wonder about young Feanor’s personal beliefs there… Perhaps it really WAS true that everyone would play pretty much every role eventually. He’d certainly played several, and some of those roles had… gone on without him, ready for someone ELSE to try out, when he’d left.

Could it be true that poor Kevin was going to be stuck for a very long time? He wouldn’t have credited that before realizing that the poor kid had no control at all. He’d always heard that it was hard to get out of the Darkness’s control once it had you – and that could well mean that the child had been stuck with the job of being the cosmic maintenance man, janitor, and escalator for the next couple of trillion years! Godhood was, indeed, a service industry – but that seemed like a bit much!

Thus Feanor was doing his best to be a good pet and diversion; he felt rather sorry for Kevin – which was a weird – and very perceptive – prospective coming from a kid who’d been turned into a pet dog. A Core education might just make new humans more alien to old humans than a lot of actual aliens probably were.

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