Samued Ryan, His Imperial Majesty of the Shattered Empire, turned from the window of the station. The tall white-haired capsuleer looked at the others in the room and took his place at the chair, at the head of the table, "We can't continue like this." It was a simple statement, but the other small conversations in the room stopped. The various chief executive officers of the various members of the Shattered Empire, turned their eyes towards him. The accusations came quickly.
"You abandoned us," said Thomas. The Chief Executive Officer of the Shadow Syndicate had been an old member of the Grigorians and had been there when the Empire had formed, but he'd quickly set himself up as one of the Emperor's harshest critics, he wasn't always wrong, indeed many times in the past he'd frustrated the Emperor by being right. But the friendship between the two had suffered.
"Things haven't been going well since the wars," said the Empress, Courtie, another sebestior like Samued who'd decided early on that her destiny, her future in New Eden belonged with Samued's. "And without you, we've had a hard time keeping everyone together."
Raldore, the President of ANZUS, the Empire's largest corporation stayed quiet.
"I've done my best Sam," said Jessa Longwave, one of the original trinity within the Empire's leadership, "But attendance is falling, interest in Imperial events has waned."
"It's a right mess," nodded Ryland, a CEO of the smallest corporation in the Empire.
"I haven't abandoned you," said Samued. "There was a matter that required my urgent and undivided attention and I was under the distinct impression that this Empire of ours was strong enough to continue with its Emperor, at least for a time. That I was wrong is my fault, not yours." The Emperor gave a small smile, "But you have never been far from my thoughts."
Courtie shook her head, "We need more than thoughts, before you left you gave us a goal, but it has never been embraced, in fact a few corporations left. And now we have almost no capsuleers left, most of the active members we have are with ANZUS." She nodded towards Raldore who gave a small nod in confirmation.
"Then," said the Emperor. "I give you more than a goal, now I give you a vision."
The others stared at Samued, some with interest, some rolled their eyes, Raldore's eyes were firm, hard and clear.
The Emperor shook his head, "This isn't my vision, not originally, it's old, older than our civilisation, older than space flight, older than fire." He smiled, "But I've made it mine."
"Bloody get on with it," growled Thomas.
"Quiet you," said Jessa, no animosity in the older man's voice, but Thomas had the decency to look away from the amarrian with a small nod of deference, a deference he would never show the Emperor.
The Emperor smiled at Jessa and then stood and addressed everyone. His voice transformed, the usual light brogue came deeper stronger, the way it did when he made one of his speeches, measured, calm, "I have seen a land shining with goodness, where each man protects his brother's dignity as readily as his own, where war and want have ceased and all races live under the same law of love and honour. I have seen a land bright with truth, where a man's word is his pledge and falsehood is banished, where children sleep safe in their mother's arms and never know fear or pain."
The others stared at him more than one frowning in disapproval
Courtie had kept her eyes fixed on her co-ruler within the small Empire, "It's beautiful Sam." He smiled at her and nodded and she continued, "But how can we make it become a reality, we all know New Eden has become even more dangerous lately, wars, pirates, suicide gankers attacking our mining fleets."
It was true, months ago, CONCORD addressed the rules covering warfare in New Eden, and it seemed like at the time, every corporation and Alliance wanted to test those new rules and a fair few seemed to want to test them on the Shattered Empire.
"It is indeed a dark time," said the Emperor. "And I have been afraid to embrace this dream, it's part of why I couldn't be with you for a time. I knew that when I rejoined your company I would have to share the vision."
"But I can't go on like this, it is in times like these that some of us must stand up, not bow down. New Eden has been handed over to those whose powers are great but their dreams are small and petty. Power, ISK, control, territory. In themselves these are tools and it's how you apply those tools that makes us the men and women we are. I have to show New Eden that there is another way. That power can be used wisely, that in itself it is not a goal, but a tool to be used to protect one another. Selfishness is the wrong path and I have been selfish in not wanting to embrace this path."
"I want no part of this wishy-washy, handing holding carebear crap," muttered Thomas angrily. "You promised us power and strength when we joined."
"You will have no part in this Thomas," said the Emperor. "I've been informed you've recruited Him again, against our wishes." Him: A pilot from the earliest history of the Empire who time and time again had griefed, infiltrated and harassed members of the Empire, hiding a troubled and petty heart behind sweet words and a smile. "You're given a simple choice, make him leave, or your corporation will no longer be welcome in the Alliance."
"Goodbye," said Thomas. "Shadow Star's destiny lies elsewhere."
The Emperor simply nodded as though he expected the response, "The rest of you. We'll have to move, this dream of mine can't be pursued around the systems near Jita. The timing of my return is fortuitous, the Empress, Jessa and our Fleet Admiral Shylynn have secured us an agreement within Providence. It is there that I see the dream unfolding before me, we'll have to move to the edge of Amarr space and build a highsec base of operations there."
"No," said Raldore, finally speaking. "I can't move us, I have to make the best decision for my corporation and ANZUS is perfectly happy, perfectly safe where we are." The tall man shook his head, "I knew that the time for leaving was coming, this foolishness of yours Emperor... We can have no part of it. I have to think of the welfare of my capsuleers."
Courtie turned to the President of ANZUS Treaty, "But... your corporation has most of our capsuleers. When you leave the Empire... it's nothing."
"I..." Jessa stood, "I can't come either. I'm a mining director... you can give me an Imperial title and call me lord all you like, but... I look after miners." He looked at Raldore and then at the Emperor and Empress, "I'm sorry, you both know how much I love you, but if Raldore leaves, we'll have no-one and I'm without function."
The Emperor nodded, "I understand old friend."
The room emptied.
Only Ryland remained seated. The leader of the smallest active corporation within the Empire.
"Not leaving too," asked the Empress. Courtie looked tired and stressed and bewildered as the dream they'd dreamt together fell around about her. Frustration showed in her voice and not a little anger directed at both of the men still present in the room.
"You're both crazy," laughed the CEO of the Scythian Horsemen. "And you're moving to Amarrian space and I can't follow you there, they... don't like me down that way."
The Emperor looked at Ryland, a curl starting on his lips. "But..."
"But nothing," the grizzled CEO scowled. "I'll do...and have done...almost everything asked of me. In return I have asked for nothing. I have been willing to storm the gates of hell for you...with nothing more than a mouthful of spit to fight with. But I will not move to that retched area. I do, however, have some things in the works that will be of much more benefit than my fighting off the entire Amarrian Defense Force."
The Emperor scowled his disgust at being talked to this way, an expression that bounced off the Siebestor. "Born a rebel, always a rebel."
Ryland shook his head and looked at Courtie with a grin. "No, if the Emperor there is King Arthur, then I suppose I'm his freaking Lancelot...or something like that" A slight chuckle escaped his lips as his gaze turned toward the Emperor. "Besides, someone has to be a pain in your ass."
Courtie strode to the window and looked out at the stars. Finally, she heaved a heavy sigh. "The Empire effectively ceases to exist today."
"No," said the Emperor. Courtie turned to look at him as he continued. "Today, the Empire is born, the true Empire, and it's future is in nullsec."
He walked to Courtie, his Empress, and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I can see it, a station, our space, we'll have to fight for it and to defend it, but... it's why we fight that will set us apart."
"New Eden is the darkest of dark places and that's why our light shall shine all the brighter. And the station has a name: The Summer Land, in the coldness of space, the light and warmth of the Kingdom of Summer shall blaze forth from it and guide others."