Burning buildings as far as the eye could see... Shipwrecks, scorched earth, countless piles of meat that once used to be the citizens of Ceti Prime.
That's what I saw when I, Star Lord Oz walked down from my ship. The homeworld of house Bellint - my family's sworn enemies - lay in ruins. I should've been happy about it. I should've rejoiced. It was my triumph after all. However I couldn't, for it was not me who pulled the curtains. The death and destruction of the Bellint family was not my doing.
An officer, Major Longinus, reported in. "My Lord. The royal family has been assassinated. Even the children did not survive. The Bellint bloodline is no more.
I dismissed him with an impatient wave of my hand. "Who gave the order to attack, Major?"
"Who gave the order?"
The Major looked confused and fell silent for a bit. Then, after he had coughed awkwardly, he said: "You did, my Lord."
"Are you mocking me, officer?"
He cowered back in shock as he said: "Of course not, my lord. Certainly you remember? The feed was full of attack orders from your Lordship. Every ship captain will testify to that.I could not utter a single word so I let him and his soldiers escort me to the palace. The ground crunched under our footsteps - it was scorched so bad it had been turned to glass from the overwhelming heat of planetary bombardment.
As we entered the throne room I noticed that all the bodies of the royal family had been stored next to the throne, all covered with their very own blood red house banner. "Leave me," I said to the soldiers. "I need a moment alone." Major Longinus and his soldiers saluted and as they left, I went and lifted the banner from the face of King Meinhardt Bellint. In life, he had been my mightiest enemy. My nemesis... Even now his red thick beard added a sort of authority to him. Dignified even in death - this was the way of King Bellint.
"Magnificent, eh?" A sly voice caught me off guard and I nearly jumped in shock. There was someone sitting on the throne which had been empty just moments ago. A familiar figure who I had not ever hoped to see again. A man in a black hooded cloak, known to me as Syd.
"You," I said incredulously.
"So how do you like my creation?" The man in black stood up and spread his arms in obvious delight.
"You did this?" I asked, unable to comprehend. "You?"
The man smiled broadly and I managed to have a glimpse of his inhuman glowing eyes under the black cloak. He was no ordinary man. He couldn't have been a genetically modified human as well. I doubt he was human at all, but I did not dare ask. Yes, even I, a Star Lord, know the meaning of fear and insecurity.
"You seem to be unable to comprehend, what has come to pass in these few weeks," the man said enthusiastically. "Let me enlighten you about what was and what will be."
He grinned a wicked grin and proceeded: "Two weeks ago I came before you, Star Lord Oz. I came to offer my services to you. Services of dismantling any empire who stood in your way. In your arrogance - no offense meant, but still arrogance - you asked for a... "demonstration".
"I did," I said, my voice trembling. "Indeed I did. However you disappeared from sight. I thought you changed your mind and withdrew your offer."
The man produced a "tsk-tsk" voice and shook his head in amusement. "My Lord. I did not withdrew my offer. I merely went to deliver the uh... sample of my abilities. As you can see, in two weeks I managed to undo your worst enemy in this galactic region. Consider it free of charge. A commercial if you will..."
"You," I gasped. "How did you manage it in such a short time? My family and the Bellints have fought for centuries now and you... in just two weeks? How is it possible?"
"My Lord," the man laughed. "I am sure that you do not go around telling people what occurs between you and your wife Celestine between the sheets at night..."
I gritted my teeth, but the man continued: "... and I of course do not share what I do behind my curtains. Matters such as this are delicate and not meant for the ears of others..." The man was a mystery, but one thing was absolutely certain. It is rare for a Star Lord to admit that he is in way over his head. Apparently this was the case for me right now.
The man bowed down and spoke eerily: "So now, Star Lord Oz, will you accept my services. Indeed, the Bellint family has been wiped from existence, but there are many more regions to conquer, many more galaxies to rule. I assure you, my price is modest. So will you add me to be another of the game pieces on your board?"
"I do," I said crisply. I feared this man, but I feared refusing him ten times more. I did not dare to deny him, for he might be hired against me if I did not agree. How ironic - the man spoke of becoming a piece on my board. For some reason, however, I felt that he was the true player and I had just become the game piece.
This story was submitted by Longinus for the AE Stories Event. Find Details on sending your own Story here.