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2. The Galactic Emperor

1. You Are What You Wish

The Galactic Emperor

on 2017-07-09 01:32:57

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Zarg was a happy Carmalian. His life was great. Not only had he defeated his brothers in their vie for the position of galactic emperor, he was beloved by his subjects. Most of them. The ones he had allowed to live, at least. All was well.

"Zarg sir," Grig, his head science advisor said to him, rushing up to him in a panic.

"Just Zarg?" he asked.

"Galactic Emperor Zarg," Grig said.

"That's all?"

"Almighty Holy Galactic Emperor Zarg the Great, Luminary of the Cosmos?"

"Better," Zarg said, satisfied. Just 3 days ago, one of his other underlings had learned the hard way, the consequences of not using a proper form of address for Zarg the Great. As a matter of fact, he was at that very moment still learning the hard way, in Zarg's dungeon, 30 thons beneath the surface.

"We have detected a reality altering algorithm!"

"Really?" Zarg's left face tentacle perked up. It had been over a million years since the last one was detected. "Where?"

"On some backwoods planet, on the other side of the galaxy. In the unexplored region." Despite the title of "Galactic Emperor", Zarg's empire had a grip on only about 5% of the galaxy. Most of it was deemed substandard and unfit for colonization, but there was also just so much crap out there. The galaxy was a big place and there was just so much of it, and it was an awful lot of nuisance actually going for an iron fist gripping around all of it. What was the frigging point, after all?

"Grig, have you ever seen the museum of reality altering artifacts?"

"No sir, that is for the eyes of your eminence only, since the weakest of them has enough power to..."

"Yes, yes, of course, it was a rhetorical question, of course you haven't actually seen it. But tell me what you know about it, and about the artifacts, and what they can do." Zarg said this while walking alongside Grig to his transporter platform. Then, with them both standing on it, Zarg entered coordinates into his transporter, that would transport them about 200 light-years to where the museum was located. It was a secret location, its coordinates kept hidden, and unknown to all but the galactic emperor.

A beam of light bathed them, as they were teleported across vast expanses of space, shaking the foundations of spacetime. But their conversation continued unabated.

"It is where all the reality altering artifacts are kept. Items of terrifying power, that literally defy the laws of physics as we know them. They occasionally appear, created by unknown means by civilizations scattered across the cosmos, at random times. The items themselves vary in characteristics, and are what is sometimes called 'magic', but of course they still obey rules, albeit not the ones we are used to, and the entire notion of magic itself is a non-sequitur born of ignorance about its operating principles, because while as they say, any sufficiently advanced technology may be indistinguishable from magic, it is also true that it is only arbitrary if 'magic' is defined as 'magic', because once it is understood, it ceases to be magic and the laws of physics are simply revised to fit it in, and it was actually the whole time obeying what are truly the larger laws of physics, if not our understanding of them..."

"Yes, yes, I'm not looking for a philosophy lesson, what do you know about the artifacts," Zarg was getting bored with this pedantic twat. He wondered if his pet phrocks would like to play with him. His phrocks were seeming tired of just being fed fresh schlom meat all the time. Their natural prey was, of course, Carmalians. Like Grig and Zarg. But of course Zarg was their master and they would never turn on him. And they were his babies. And he cared for his babies. And wanted the best for them.

"Ok, sir. They vary, but each of them can do impossible things. Things that shouldn't otherwise be possible. They're like points in the universe that are broken, and don't obey the usual rules. No one knows how they work. No one knows how they are made. By the time we eventually detect and find them, the process of their construction is long since complete and their makers are centuries gone. But they are often created by relatively primitive civilizations, mired in superstitions, which makes our failure to figure out the recipe for making them all the more frustrating."

"That's pretty much all the public knows," said Zarg. "Do you know anything more?"

"No, sir, not really. I know that we have instruments designed to detect them, to detect them from their impossible effects on the universe, and I'm even kept in the dark on how those instruments work, I was only educated in how to use the instruments."

They had arrived at the destination planet, where the museum was, and were walking into an innocent looking small house. Or at least it looked like a house.

"Here it is. The museum of reality altering artifacts."

"Th... that's it?" Grig looked around inside the 'house', the structure. A few small objects were strewn around on modest pedestals. It didn't look impressive at all. And how many of them were there in total? Maybe 50 or 100? This, from all the history of millions of civilizations throughout this galaxy and many others, that had existed across hundreds of millions of years of Carmalian history? This was all there was?

Zarg picked up a little metallic hoop, with curved spokes focusing on a jewel in the center.

"Can you guess what this does?" Zarg asked.

"I have no idea," Grig answered.

"Put it on top of your head," Zarg ordered. Grig complied.

Suddenly a holographic display of numbers floated in the air. They were counting down.

"This shows the exact amount of time until you die. Nothing whatsoever can change it. It's absolutely solid fate. Depressing stuff, wouldn't you agree?"

"Tw... twelve years...? Just... twelve... twelve..." Grig said, in a squeak.

"No matter what you do, nothing will ever change that. You will die on the 11th of Glarp in the year 712 million, 447 thousand and 14, at 27 o'clock and 3.37 seconds by our long Flopsip calendar. Your fate is completely set in stone. You can rely on this information, absolutely."

"Twelve..."

"You can even look forward to that date, mark it on your calendar. If you want to do something stupid and reckless before then, you won't ever die from it, luck will always intervene to stop its lethality, though I warn you, that won't stop you from being severely injured, irreparably damaged for the rest of your life even, so I wouldn't recommend it, the universe will follow a sort of path of least resistance in its keeping you alive, a minimal effort that fulfills its obligation to keep you alive until it's your time."

"Twelve..."

"On the appointed day, you could be hiding from death in a 10 mile thick vault, armed to the teeth, with a cure for every known disease known to Carmaliankind, and at 27 o'clock and 3.37 seconds, your number is up."

Zarg took the artifact off of Grig's head, while Grig was still stunned by this information, standing with his front flippers waving in the air.

"Now this artifact," Zarg said, picking up what looked like a detachable water spigot with a valve, "makes a refreshment, known as 'root beer'. Just makes it from nothing. I am told it is very tasty, by some's opinions, but personally I can't stand the stuff. It's so sweet and bubbly, it makes me gag." Grig was watching Zarg with glazed-over eyes.

"And this artifact, this one is special." Zarg held up a featureless metallic ball. "It is the key to our faster than light transportation. Without it, we wouldn't be able to travel faster than light, because if you follow the known laws of physics, it is absolutely impossible to do that. Incidentally, there is a similar artifact that allows information to be gathered remotely faster than light, and it is how the instruments you used to detect the reality altering algorithm work. But about the transportation ball, what I call a 'teleportation orb', there is a shadow copy of this artifact in every transportation pad our civilization produces. Speaking of which..." Zarg now held up a big metal toroid, "now this is what I call the shadow copier. It will make unlimited copies of anything that can fit through the hole through it, even other reality altering objects, though they're just shadow copies, not exactly the original, not made of any material like you know, and they can just poof, disappear from existence spontaneously under certain conditions. See, watch this:" Zarg dropped the metal ball that was apparently the key to FTL transportation through the toroid's hole. Out dropped the original ball, which Zarg adeptly caught on a foot tentacle, but also another ball, this one completely black. It was ok to risk damaging that one, not being the original, so Zarg let it hit the ground hard. When I say it was black, I do not mean it was an ordinary black object, which could be slightly shiny, or at least reflected maybe some small fraction of the light that hit it, so that you could make out surface features like corners and edges. No, this was completely black, it was surreal, it looked like something that shouldn't be possible. "And now we have a new teleportation orb for a new transportation platform. You see how important these objects can be to our civilization, especially when used together?"

Grig had partially snapped out of it. Nothing mattered any more. It was all coming to an end in 12 years. His life was a lie. Everything he worked for was a lie. But he was paying attention the whole time.

"Yes sir," he said in a depressed tone.

"I am charging you with acquiring this artifact you have detected, Grig," Zarg said. "So go forth and bring it to me! For the glory of Carmal!"

What difference does it make, Grig thought to himself. He figured he was perfect fodder for this mission, there was no chance he would be killed by it after all, he was destined to be safe for 12 years, so the mission must be a success, if he would be doing it.

They transported back to the Carmal homeworld, for Grig to get together the equipment he would need for the extraction.

"So, what is the name of this planet you will be going to, science advisor Grig?"

"It's called Earth."

"Earth? What a stupid name," Zarg said.

"If you think that's bad, you should see how ugly the most intelligent species that lives there is." Grig showed Zarg a picture.

"Eugh! That's disgusting beyond belief! I feel like I want to vomit! How do they even, god, how do they stand to reproduce with each other if they look like, if I looked like that, I would just kill myself as soon as I was old enough to hold a death ray!"

"They are a primitive race, sir, it seems that they haven't even invented the death ray."

"Pff. Dirty little savages. This should be a walk in the park for you."

"I will bring glory and honor to Carmal and Galactic Emperor, er, Almighty Holy Galactic Emperor Zarg the Great, Luminary of the Cosmos!"

"I'm sure you will," Zarg said. "As much as it pains me to order you to do something so horrid, assume the form of one of these loathesome creatures you have shown me, to blend in, when you arrive. Find the object. Kill whatever you need to kill, destroy their civilization for all it matters, and it doesn't, just get that artifact and get back here." Zarg activated the transporter pad, sending Grig to some backward little planet on the other side of the galaxy, called Earth.

Jon and Karyn would soon be having a visitor.




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