Ave, everyone! The bit of writing below is an entry in the competition, but as I am judging, naturally, it isn’t meant to be part of the competition except in the spirit of celebrating the creativity of New Eden’s capsuleer community. I hope it is entertaining to you.
It is meant, naturally, as a pure work of fiction.
"The Kingdom’s Just Desserts", by Loai Qerl
“Well,” said the Queen Admiral, and dusted her hands against each other. “That is that.”
One of the heads on the floor retained enough fumes of its former life to open its mouth, or perhaps it was only the last fumes departing that let it fall open, but nonetheless there was the impression of it trying to speak. Failed generals, useless nobles, disloyal courtiers, unskilled sycophants were they all, but that one had been one of Farokh’s little favorites, a clever one at talk and amusements. She did miss Farokh.
All life went still in that bearded face as she looked down on it. It was much paler now, still and wan and smeared with blood across its cheek. It had been a merchant, untitled, but with enough friends among the court to ensure favorable treatment for the True Amarr houses he funneled Navy supply contracts to. They had supplied goods of only customary quality.
She hooked a toe under his ear, and flicked his head away from his body. It plash-plashed through the blood, and eventually tipped to a stop next to a head that was encrusted with coiled braids. That one, she had become stale and unenthusiastic in her duties to defend the Kingdom. The swath of black hair that head lay in, it belonged to a second son of someone that Farokh needed a leash on.
She nodded to the bearers of arms, lined up in a most formal manner behind the untidy row of tipped-over unnecessaries. To a one, in unison, each freed a hand from their blades and lifted something from a pocket to their mouth. Moments later, they fell. It was done.
She put a toe against her heel to tip off the thin shoe on that foot. Then the other. The door swung wide in front of her as she made her way through the valley of heads and cooling blood, and as she passed the edge of it, where it had already started to congeal and darken, her bare footprints carried the touch of it for many meters through the darkened hall.
That was that. Just as she’d said. The Kingdom was hers now.
It hardly seemed useful to dwell on what had happened that day, once that day was over. The Kingdom was practical, was it not? So she was Queen, not Queen Admiral or Queen Consort but Queen alone, a single title and a single authority over the lot of it, and only a few more occasions were necessary to demonstrate what that meant. Her fleets went here and there, her cyberknights went forth also, and the Kingdom’s true children knew that they were safe, and could breathe fully under her rule.
But she missed Farokh. And she had needs, didn’t she?
He had, she thought, perhaps limited his imagination as to the benefit of keeping guests. Having family members about was all to the good, but…well.
Not long after, by invitation and by other means, new guests arrived at the palace, and found themselves compelled to be welcome there. The visitors earlier had been of the House only, but these were from anywhere her fleets and knights could reach. There was fuss of course; some were of Holder families, some were merely aspirants and well-connected, and some were little no-people who had convinced a cyberknight or ship officer that they were worth her time. There were a surprising number of those, in all honesty, and she considered it her own fault for not conveying to them a true and full accounting of her standards. But there were a few very choice finds indeed, and one of them was being brought in now.
She kicked both bare feet over the arm of the Kingdom’s great throne, lifted a thumbnail to rest on her lower lip, and watched the guard escort the….Lord Consort, was it? It was. She watched them make their long way from the tall door at the end of the hall toward her. The echoing stone chamber, flanked with looming silver-banded basalt pillars, did exactly what it was supposed to do; at one end of it she was enshrined, interminably distant, and unapproachable. Farokh had embraced the theatre of it. She preferred to use it as a counterpoint.
“Lord Consort Aldrith Shutaq-Newelle,” the escort to the right of her guest intoned. The one on the left said nothing.
“Convey my sincere apologies to the Holding of Shutaq-Newelle,” said the Queen to the guard. “For the regrettable need to constrain the consort’s travel due to misbehaviours in Kingdom space.” She bobbed a foot. “Convey also to the appropriate offices the requisite documentation of misbehaviours. Someone will ask, I’m sure. Make them unflattering.” Both nodded, and retreated back down the hall.
“You have no ■■■■■■■ clue to whom I’m married, do you.”
What a lovely voice he had. So well-modulated, such an elegant inflection to his Amarrad. And he was Ni-Kunni himself, or she was a furrier.
“I’m sure I don’t,” she said, letting herself study him. “I’m sure I don’t ■■■■■■■ care.” It was hard to determine what about his manner said “capsuleer”, but it did, and a quick mental search over her implants confirmed this. Among other records, including of course to whom he was married, where and how he had killed and died since taking to the capsule, and a fascinating array of articles from planetside media. And he was very definitely Ni-Kunni. There was a nude calendar of him. Almost certainly fraudulent, but…a very plausible attempt. She should have looked him up sooner. She could have had him imported before her marriage to Farokh, even.
“That said.” She swung her legs back over the arm of the throne, and sat square in it to face him. “This is hardly a hostage situation. For one, that would be pointlessly difficult and unpleasant given your capsule interface. For another–” She tossed her short hair and let a smile grow across her face. “I have the records now pertaining to your fierce Lady, and judge that she would call staying for dinner ‘diplomacy’, no?”
“I doubt she’d put it quite that way. What happens if I turn around and walk out, Your Highness?”
“The doors stay closed, Lord Consort.”
“So you’re detaining me.”
“Hardly. It’s only that if you would like to leave before dinner…you would, in fact, need to die. Painful, yes. Excessive, yes. You can’t be that Sarum already, can you?”
“You don’t know her. You don’t know me.” The Lord Consort set his shoulders under his embroidered coat.
“Oh, I know a few little things,” laughed the Queen lightly, relaxing back into her seat. “Don’t be dramatic. You’ll have dinner with me, and in due course you’ll go. Or would you really rather find something you can bludgeon yourself to death with here? Do you know what it would take to bludgeon yourself to death?”
He made a minor point of looking around, but the throne was carved all of a piece from a stone as was, it seemed, everything else to hand. No doubt it was fabricated, especially given the need for lighting and communication equipment, but it was well-fabricated and at any rate it left him no easily acquired chunk of anything to whack his brains out. Let the record reflect that he had made an effort, and let the record gently acknowledge, in addition, that it would have been difficult and not a little ridiculous to do it anyway.
Relieved for the moment of his diplomatic duties to be defiant, he shrugged and let his hands make an open, expansive gesture. “Far be it from me,” he said, his voice mild, “to make you wash the place out. Will we be having Khanid tonight?”
“One of us will,” said the Queen. “I’ll be having whatever the kitchen sends along.”
….had she just?
“And a bit of…what was your house, again?”
“…I don’t think so. The other one.”
“Shutaq-Newelle. Newelle. Are you trying-”
“A bit of that,” said the Queen, crossing her legs at the knee to wriggle the toes of one foot in a manner most satisfied. Her fingers curled around the arms of her throne, and she leaned forward over her lap.
“Would you rather I didn’t?” she purred.
His mouth was dry, and his pulse drummed in unmentionable places as the low light of evening through the windows above shaded her predatory eyes, trained on him. His coat was heavy. His coat was very warm.
“I never said that, Your Highness.”
“No you didn’t, Lord Consort. Shall I tell them to keep dinner waiting, now that you’re resolved to stay? I think I might.” She stood up, paced down one of the steps toward him.
“No, no, please, Majesty,” he said, not stepping back. “You said there was Khanid to be had?”
“Close enough,” she said, taking the second of three steps with a widening grin. Her teeth shone in the light like her eyes. “The Ni-Kunni, I am sure you know, never quite cooks off.”
The Lord Consort flicked open two buttons over his chest, peeled a heavy stiff shoulder free of the loose white shirt underneath, and let the other slide off to the floor. He breathed in, out, and felt his mouth water.
“I could eat,” he said.