An idea for a short story like this has been kicking around in my head for a while. I have not really written anything in a long time, and this is the first time doing anything with Stellaris, but it needed to be done. I'm preparing for law school coming this August, and even so this thought would not leave my head. Wish me luck in New Orleans, ya'll. I'll be there so enough.

Also, if any of you guys want to play Stellaris, just let me know. I'm always looking to start up another galactic empire.

Quote of the Day:

"I did not make myself king. God did. King by divine right! Now you come to me with this document seeking to limit the authority given to me by God!?"

— King John Plantagenet of England, Robin Hood (2010)

Maxerdok had been a boy when he watched his grandfather's execution.

The day had been a solemn one across all the worlds where his grandfather had ruled as the High King of the Rax Imperium, but they had fought a war and had lost, and the price of war was often times too hard to actually pay. His father had told him afterward that there was power in a King's blood, and that was the reason why the Xanyr Shard had demanded it, but after all these years Maxerdok couldn't help but wonder if it was from their own blood where a King got his power.

Like his grandfather, his father Rukagikex bent the knee to the Xanyr Shard. The Xanyr were not too unlike themselves, reptilian in biology, except slender and sleek whereas the Rax themselves were stout and heavy, born with shells as the higher form of turtles that they were. Still, the similarities they shared with the Xanyr did nothing to quell the undying shame that Maxerdok felt every time a member of the Shard visited their home planet to ensure their continued loyalty.

He would never forget the image of his father- his king - kneeling before the Shard Keeper, trembling in fear. He would never forget how his father had commanded that he kneel as well, the will of an Awakened Empire too overwhelming to deny. Although he obeyed his father, the title of High King still meaning something to the then Crown Prince, he wondered if the first Maxerdok would have so easily bent the knee.

Looking over at the scientist standing beside him, Maxerdok smiled. "If we die, old friend, then we die standing."

"If we do this," Fargulek began, before he paused and made his way to the window, eyes taking in the great fleet that had taken years of research, tremendous funding, and countless man hours for them to build, "if we do this, this will the greatest war that our people have ever seen. They won't be content to simply execute you, Your Grace. The Shard Keepers will not tolerate your son or your House, even if they bend the knee for a thousand generations to come."

What his friend and trusted advisor was telling him was the truth, and it was the thing that had weighed most heavily on his mind when he had been building his armada. He was putting more than his own life at risk, but also the lives of his people, his House, and even his son. In his darker moments Maxerdok wondered if any of this was worth it at all, or if the thing that shaped his outlook on life was not the righteous fury that guided him, but instead the pride of a small and broken man. They were doubts he often had, but they were doubts that disappeared when he thought of the Imperium that he left his son, along with the life of submission to the people who stole the honor from their family.

Now was not the time for half measures. He would never waver again.

Without a word to Fargulek, Maxerdok made his way to the command center of his battleship, his old friend following behind him as quickly as the frail man could. Although it was nothing official, eyes of the soldiers, civilians, and other politicians who were aboard Maxerdok's ship followed the pair as they went, the defiant nature of the High King being somewhat of an open secret. Some were afraid, some were proud, and some were eager, even in the face of Armageddon.

Although his soldiers greeted him when he entered his command center, Maxerdok simply nodded to them instead of giving his usually more friendly greeting, today being far too important to hesitant any longer. At his command a transmission to the Grand Admiral of his fleet was brought onto the telescreen that took up the centerpiece of his command center. Even if he wasn't exactly sure about it, for a moment Maxerdok could almost make out a smirk on his admiral's face.

"Admiral Jak," Maxerdok began, pausing as he increased the range of his transmission, sending it to every commander's deck of every ship in his fleet, "prepare for war. Our entire fleet moves as one."

On the screen, the Admiral's face was inscrutable, "Is the Xanyr Shard going to war, Your Grace?"

Although the Admiral knew very well what he meant, Maxerdok understood this for what it was. It was his last chance to back out of what he had spent his entire life planning. It was his last chance to forever pledge himself to the Shard Keepers, and to accept a role of submission for himself and for his people. He could not back out after this moment, but even now he knew that when the first Maxerdok had looked up at the stars, he never imagined a destiny as servants for his people. The High King knew what he had to do, and there would be no more half measures. There was power in a King's blood.

"Confirmed, Admiral," Maxerdok replied, more resolved now then he had ever been before, "the Xanyr Shard will be going to war. For generations they have wanted our fleet and our army at their beck and call. We'll see how much they enjoy it when we bring both to their homeworld."

Although many were frightened at the prospect of war against the Xanyr Shard, still, many across all the worlds of the Rax Imperium rejoiced, the swelling sentiment of rebellion having grown in the hearts of the Rax people in the same way that it had grown in the hearts of their High King. When the news of the war reached the people of the Imperium, many prepared for the ancient fury of the Shard Keepers. When the news reached the Shard Keepers however that the King of their greatest and mightiest vassal had raised his banners in rebellion, they prepared for The King's Fury, which was the name that Maxerdok had given to his fleet that darkened the stars of the galaxy with its magnitude. The subjugation of the Rax Imperium had begun when the Xanyr Shard had awakened, and perhaps that same subjugation would end with the awakening of a different empire entirely.

It was a possibility that stirred hope in the heart of Maxerdok, and although none of the Xanyr Shard would ever admit it, it was a possibility that now filled the hearts of the Shard Keepers with an unfamiliar dread. It was something to consider, at perhaps another time. For now however, Maxerdok found himself searching for his old friend, Fargulek having guided him in so many other aspects of his life. This would be the greatest war that his people had ever fought, and Maxerdok needed his strong right hand at his side.

After the announcement to Admiral Jak and the subsequent declaration of war that followed, the scientist Fargulek had slipped out of the command center of the battleship. No one had noticed except for Maxerdok himself, and as his everyone else on his battleship began to mobilize for the long voyage to the heart of the Xanyr Shard's empire, the Rax King found himself searching for Fargulek instead, Maxerdok knowing exactly just where it was that his friend and advisor had slipped away to.

When the King found him it was just as Maxerdok thought, in the chamber that had been the personal library of his father, where Fargulek often found himself being drawn to from even before the day that Maxerdok hatched, the scientist having served as another trusted advisor to another so-called King. The King had been quiet when he entered the chamber of the room that he would never stop thinking of as his father's library, despite the fact that King Rukagikex had died long ago. The chamber was quiet then, except for the whirring of the machines that were booting up his battleship's engines, and the sound of his soldiers mobilizing all around them, but for now everything seemed distant to both Maxerdok and Fargulek, the two of them in that moment being alone in the universe.

It was then that Maxerdok took the time to admire the great library that few in the galaxy had ever seen. Ancient tomes filled the room, telling the tales of the conquered kings that had once been defeated by his ancestors to unite the Rax people, as well the grimoires and sacred texts of the fallen gods that no one prayed to any longer, the abyss that was time having left them behind long ago. There was a certain sadness to it, an eternal melancholy that Maxerdok would never be able to put into words himself. His eyes glanced over to the statue of the first Maxerdok, his namesake, who raised his people from just one world into kingdom in the stars, and as the newest Maxerdok turned his attention back to his old friend who was staring out of a window into the seemingly endless galaxy before him, the King couldn't help but wonder which one of these stars was the one that made the first Maxerdok dream of a greater destiny.

"Are you afraid to die, Fargulek?" King Maxerdok broke the silence of the room, knowing the truth of what he asked, feeling the same kind of fear that was the reason they even had to fight in the first place.

"I am," the scientist admitted, any other answer being a lie, "but if you ask me to I will die like a patriot."

It was then that Maxerdok made his way to stand by his old friend's side, the two of them now watching the stars together. There was something beautiful, and yet, also tragic about the sight that lay before then. As the young king stared into the endless void of space, he could only imagine the moment where the first of their people looked up at the stars and wondered what destiny awaited them. He would give them more than servitude. He would not deny their dreams.

"Fight with me," the king finally replied, no longer asking his advisor anything, but instead now giving his old friend a promise, "and I will bring you the horizon."

Well, I may take another step into the Stellaris fandom sometime in the future. I know there's not exactly a lot of writing that has been done for it, but I definitely think it will be cool to do another few stories or so, about the other galactic races/empires that I have created. Maybe I'll even do another short story picking up where this one left off. Not sure exactly, haven't quite made up my mind, but the possibility is there. If any of you guys have any pitches I'll be happy to hear it, though I can't say 100% when I can put it out, considering how limited my time is these days.

Anyways, it's time for me to go. Live long and prosper, and may the force be with you.