Men are weak.
Men are not made to rule. That much seems obvious by now. Of course they think otherwise. But most often they are deluded by their own ludicrous ambitions. They become so obsessed with their quests for power that they become oblivious to anything and anyone around them. They are so self-assured that in the end they will achieve ultimate victory that they can no longer conceive of the possibility of failure. And that is always their downfall.
Archer was such a man. He believed himself to be in control but the truth is that he was merely playing his part. He believed exactly what I wanted him to believe and in the end he fell like a pawn in a chess game. He never suspected that the queen was the figure that held all the power. Even though she was right in front of his eyes from the very beginning.
Archer is dead now. Defeated. But he was just the first piece of the puzzle. With the immense power of the future Defiant at my command, nothing could stand in my way. The Empire was mine for the taking.
Gardner put up some resistance. But he was just as weak as Archer had been. Loyal to the weakling who called himself Emperor, he believed that the Earth defenses could stop me. But their missiles didn’t even dent Defiant’s shields and their fighter craft were quickly destroyed by our advanced phasers. Gardner would still not give up. Not until Kyoto, Birmingham and Atlanta lay in ruins and I threatened to target Rome–the heart of the Empire–next. Yes, it was a great sacrifice but one that had to be made.
Within hours of the attack Earth had surrendered. It was a momentous occasion when the Emperor was presented to me in chains among the magnificent white marble columns and statues of the rebuild halls of the Forum Romanum. It was only fitting for the ruler of the galaxy to make his home among the great conquerors of the past.
With Mayweather at my side, the only man I would ever trust, the Emperor watched helplessly as I was declared the new supreme leader of the Terran Empire. Thousands watched on as I took my rightful place as the first Empress that had ever been. Their eyes reflected terror and fear, they knew about the devastating attacks and the powerful vessel in orbit. But that suited me just fine for now. Hoshi the Merciless was a nickname I could get used to. It had all played out the way I had foreseen it.
However what happened next I had not anticipated.
Travis Mayweather cleared his throat and his powerful voice boomed through the ancient halls, “In light of your glorious conquest …”
Yes, it had been a conquest. I had single-handily conquered Earth. Something no woman, or man, had ever accomplished before.
“And your rightful installation as the glorious Empress Hoshi the First, I, your humble servant, present you with a gift which I hope you will find pleasing!”
My interest was immediately piqued. This of course would be only the first of many gifts to come, that much was certain. I nodded, “Proceed.”
Mayweather smiled and I delighted in seeing his perfectly white teeth. “Bring forth the prisoner!”
Two guards stepped forward from the crowd, holding in between them a woman. Her head was covered but her body and stature seemed familiar.
The cover was removed and I instantly knew that I would come to appreciate my present immensely. It was none other than T’Pol, the rebellious Vulcan officer from the former starship Enterprise. She had caused Archer much trouble and I had assumed that she had been executed by now. I didn’t regret the fact that she hadn’t.
“Instead of having her killed I thought you might enjoy her. Perhaps as a slave?” Mayweather said and grinned.
I gently stroked his smooth, ebony-colored cheek. “You are so thoughtful,” I whispered to him before I turned to my present. “Bring her to me.”
The guards reacted instantly, throwing her at my feet.
She looked up at me, defiance written all over her face.
“Your race is pathetic but I will enjoy breaking you. You’ll make a good servant.”
“One day,” she said, her teeth gritted. “One day a Vulcan will wear the robe of emperor.”
I couldn’t contain my laughter and my terrified subjects quickly joined in. The notion just seemed utterly ridiculous.
“The day a Vulcan will rule the empire will be the day of its demise.”
I turned to Mayweather and nodded. “Well spoken. Except of course,” I said and turned back to my newest servant, “the Empire is forever.”
“Long live the Empire, long live the Empress!” Mayweather shouted and a choir of thousands joined in. I relished the sound for a moment as I let it wash over me. I would never tire of the sound, I decided.
“Long live the Empress,” T’Pol whispered almost inaudibly.
My smile of joy grew even wider. Had I conquered her already? Had it really been that easy? I couldn’t be sure. I carefully lowered myself to hear her say it again. “What was that?”
As she suddenly locked her dark green eyes with mine, I spotted something that shouldn’t have been there. She possessed a knowledge that I lacked. She was still fully defiant and more even; she had a plan.
“Your reign will be a short one, Empress,” she whispered with such devilish delight that she barely seemed like a Vulcan any more.
I suddenly panicked. Something here was very wrong. I quickly turned to Mayweather but he simply stood there. Motionless like the many statues all around us but his smile, his smile was still there.
Instinctively I reached for my dagger and not a second later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the attack coming. I raised my weapon just in time to deflect her blow. Her dagger crossed with mine, the sound of the blades reverberated through the suddenly deadly silent halls.
The force of the impact pushed me onto my back. I had been caught off guard and could muster just enough strength to keep my own blade up, stopping T’Pol from pushing hers into my flesh. Her eyes were filled with fury now.
“Travis!” I screamed. “Help!”
But the answer came from T’Pol. “Nobody will help you now,” she said. “It is just you and me this time. Nobody else.”
I shot a glance at Mayweather but he didn’t move. Of course he didn’t. He had planned all of this. Like Brutus to Caesar, I had been betrayed by the one closest to me. Not a single guard, not one soul would come to my rescue.
But T’Pol was a Vulcan after all. And as a Vulcan she must have deemed it improper to strike down an unprepared enemy. She backed off.
I jumped to my feet, somewhat unsteadily, and dropped the heavy robe I was wearing. I assumed a defensive posture, ready to fight for my empire. My life.
“I defeated you once, I will defeat you again!’ she proclaimed.
“Bring it, bitch!”
And then everything happened very fast. Very little thought went into the fight. It was all instinct and adrenaline. Blow, counter-blow, attack, defend. She landed her hits, I landed mine. I can’t recall who served the first fatal strike. We both collapsed to the marble floor, covered in sweat and blood …
It was Hoshi, to her credit, who had buried her dagger into her opponent first. But her technique had been sloppy. She had fought out of desperation, scared of losing everything she had accomplished. She had left herself wide open for one last attempt to defeat the Vulcan.
T’Pol had nothing to lose. She remained more calculated throughout the fight. She showed no pain, didn’t even flinch when she was hit. Perhaps it was her superior Vulcan anatomy which allowed her to remain on her feet after Hoshi had delivered her final strike. Unarmed and defenseless Hoshi couldn’t stop the vicious blow against her temple. She lost all her focus then, blood streaming into her eyes she could do nothing when T’Pol took her time to finish her off. Spinning the dagger in her palm, more for show than practicality, she suddenly grabbed it firmly and placed it right into Hoshi’s chest.
Seconds later neither warrior was able to remain standing. T’Pol had seemingly saved her last breath for the killing strike. She died knowing that Hoshi would not, could not survive.
I slowly stepped in between the two enemies into puddles of red and green blood. I smiled when I realized that it had ended the way I had foreseen it.
“Travis … please.”
Hoshi was not quite dead yet.
I squatted down next to her. “I’m sorry but you see in this universe there is simply nobody you can trust,” I said, put my hand on the grip of T’Pol’s dagger lodged in her chest and pulled it out. Her eyes opened wide before they closed one last time. I swiped the dagger clean on her vest and then stood. I picked up the discarded robe and attached it to my shoulders. It was a decent fit.
I turned to the assembled masses who had watched the spectacle with silent fascination.
“Behold the new Emperor! Behold Travis the Cunning!” Gardner shouted and dropped to one knee.
Not a single man or woman remained on their feet.
I looked across the bowed heads in front of me and I knew. The most deserving person had become the ruler of the empire.