Simon’s War (Part 2)

PART 2

 

Mystic Man is Isaac Eckspo. He has a plethora of powers including superhuman strength, durability, flight, energy projection, and teleportation. He can teleport to any place in our known universe. Everywhere except one.

The Crab Nebula is known amongst humanity. Long thought to be the remnants of a supernova, no one, not even Mystic Man, know what truly lies inside this beautiful space cloud.

Today, you will learn of a secret, powerful society within the Milky Way galaxy. One that has watched, grown, and flourished in the past thousand years. But as with all societies, they’ve reached a crossroads. A moment in time is upon them, and for the first time ever, witness the epic tale of a family divided. An empire in turmoil. And it all started with Mystic Man.

 

LAST TIME: Queen Selene and the Seleste fleet were set to celebrate another glorious victory for the Empire! That was when an ominous purple cloud consumed the entire fleet. No one knows what happened or why it happened. They just know that their queen is gone.

 

 

 

A Seleste funeral had to be without a doubt, one of the most beautiful sights to behold in the galaxy. And they didn’t happen often, so a who’s who from across the Seleste Empire came to witness the funeral of Queen Selene and her powerful fleet. There were no bodies, and not a single piece of metal from the ships. But somehow, everyone in the Seleste Empire felt it that day. Their Queen was dead.

There were no bodies. And no one knew how she died. Did she go peacefully? Or was she burned to death by one of her enemies? Most wouldn’t believe the second story anyway, but some did. And those tales and fables spread throughout the galaxy.

‘The great Seleste Empire,’ they would say. ‘Maybe it wasn’t so great after all.’

Simon, the oldest of the three children, led the funeral ceremony. He dawned his father’s old ceremonial robes as his sisters, Sarah and Sam, wore their mothers. Millions upon millions gathered outside the Seleste Temple. Fires were lit down an aisle where everyone waited for the casket of Selene to be brought. The citizens were told to wear only their best. And they didn’t disappoint. Elegant dresses, colorful wigs, blinding jewelry. Even the common folk wore their best rags. And the diversity. It wasn’t a word the Seleste Empire favored or even understood. But on that day, the day of Selene’s funeral, every type of race, every type of creature, was standing by those fires that lit the aisle. Still at the front though, were the blue-skinned humanoids. Selestians as they liked to call themselves.

As the casket arrived, and the ceremony reached its climax, young Simon stood on the steps of the temple. His sisters sitting behind him, and a ridiculous amount of servants standing behind them. The casket slowly made its way down the aisle. Some citizens cried out in pain as it passed them. Some even tried to spit on it. They were instantly killed by the royal guard. It was a beautiful sort of chaos, watching that casket go down the aisle. The true colors, or rather the true nature of Seleste Empire showed itself that day. All young Simon could think about was one thing, however.

There is no body.

 

THREE YEARS LATER

“It’s time, my king.”

“How many times must I tell you, Koll? Just call me Simon.”

“And betray the throne? Never.”

“Very well. What do I have planned for the day?”

“Is that a serious question, my king? Have you forgotten?”

“No—I just hoped you would. Or I hoped somebody would. Are they here?”

“Yes.”

“Then I suppose we should get this over with.”

“Of course, my king.”

 

Simon Seleste II hadn’t seen his sisters in three years. And on this day, the Seleste Empire was more fragile than it had ever been. And today, on the third anniversary of his mother’s death, they would reunite. To remember their mother, yes. But to mainly figure out how to save their empire.

As he entered the throne room, there they sat. The Rebel and the Preacher. Simon wasn’t expecting them to stand when he entered the room, but he hoped they would. Actually, he never expected Sam to stand. She wreaked of filth and dirt. Her reputation as one of the toughest, vicious rebels in the galaxy was well-established. And with her rebel, or some would say terrorist, attitude came arrogance. Came disrespect for the throne. She simply nodded at Simon as he entered.

Now Sarah, he expected more from the sibling he felt closest too. She had found religion since her mother’s death. And not just any religion, but her own. Sarah became obsessed with a planet called Earth and their philosophers. She was enthralled by the idea of duty. By the idea of serving a higher purpose than your own self-preservation. She took that idea further and took a stand against Simon and the throne. The universe was her master. Sarah had gained quite a following in the past couple of years. Lots of enemies too.

One fights me through action. One through inaction.

But where does that leave me? Where am I on this ideological spectrum? Am I the simple king who’s just reaped the consequences of a troubled empire? Am I just living in limbo while my sisters go into the galaxy and make real change?

It was a question that haunted Simon every day, not just today.

As he approached his sisters, his most trusted advisor and leader of his science division, Koll, came up behind him. Koll looked as if he were waiting to get instructions from Simon on what to do next. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room. Sam broke it with her harsh, sarcastic voice.

“I forgot that we have maids here,” she said.

“You spent the majority of your life here,” Simon said. “Just because you went to live in the dirt, doesn’t make you any less royal.”

Sarah sighed.

“And it begins,” Sarah said.

Simon looked at Sarah for a moment. Her head was shaved now. It was weird to see a woman from the royal family with no hair. Simon was used to seeing the most extravagant wigs one could dream of on Planet Seleste. But Sarah opted for a simpler life. She stared back at Simon with an empty look on her face.

“And besides,” Simon continued. “Koll is not my maid. He’s my closest friend and advisor.”

“Whatever. Why did you call us here?” Sam asked.

Simon walked to the middle of the throne room. He then tapped his foot on the floor and a table began to rise from the ground. When it reached about his stomach, the table lit up and began to display something. It was an image of their mother. Sam immediately frowned, and Sarah just put her head down.

“Three years ago,” Simon began, “Our mother, the great Selene Seleste, died. But, we still don’t know how it happened or why. But we do know the cause.”

Behind him, the display showed a bright, life-like purple cloud.

“This cloud has a sort of magical energy. Any who have tried to go into it since our mother’s death has died. It’s a galaxy killer and we have no resources to defeat it.”

“Get to the point, Simon,” Sam said impatiently.

“Yes, we know all of this information,” Sarah said.

The display turned into some sort of yellow and blue cloud. It must have gotten his sister’s attention because they both sat up straight and stared at the image.

“I thought that would get you to focus. This is was what protected the Seleste Empire. For years, this space cloud was the only thing shielding us from the rest of the galaxy. Never seen it before? Well, no one on the planet has either. I’m not even sure past rulers understood it.”

“The purple cloud destroyed it, didn’t it?” Sam asked.

“And now, one of the most resource-heavy planets in the galaxy, is exposed,” Sarah said.

Simon knew he wouldn’t have to walk his sisters through this dilemma. It’s the next part that he anticipated taking a long time.

“This is why I called you today. I seek your council. We all have different ways of looking at the world. Different ways of living. But I do not wish death or harm on you. I want to help this empire as much we can. And I need both of my sister’s brains to do that.”

Nothing.

Then, Sam spoke up. There was a noticeable pain in her voice.

“You—you have some nerve, brother.” Her words had venom in them.

“Do you know what I’ve seen in our great Empire?” Sam stood up now. Simon hadn’t realized how fit she had gotten. She was never big, but now, she looked like she could fight his best men. And maybe even best Simon himself.

“People are dying, Simon. Hurting. There are tons of planets in the Seleste Empire. Tons of planets that our mother and father, and there’s before them, preyed on. Exploited. And it’s taken its toll. You’ve sent armies to kill my rebels, when we were just rescuing slaves. You yourself executed one of my men after he killed that pedophile arms dealer. So no, I will not help you save Seleste. I’d rather watch it burn.”

Simon was looking directly into Sam’s eyes. There was true anger in her. She meant every word. Still, Simon thought she could change her mind.

“She’s not wrong you know,” Sarah said quietly. “I mean she’s wrong about one thing.”

Sarah stood up now. And unlike Sam, Sarah had grace. She was wearing a long purple robe, purple being the color her followers wore. Then she walked over to Simon. Sam was still standing in front of him, tears formed in her eyes, her breathing heavy. But Sarah just stood there and smiled.

“I swear on everything, I’ll gut you if you make this about religion,” Sam said.

“You will do no such thing,” Simon said.

“My religion isn’t some manual,” Sarah said calmly. “I don’t have an answer for everything. Nor do my teachings provide an answer for everything. I find comfort in the unknown.”

“Then what is Sam right about?” Simon asked.

“You. The Empire. Sam and I are exactly the same in that we both abhor the Selestian throne. Always have. We just have different hearts, different souls. But she’s absolutely telling the truth about the atrocities our mother committed. That can’t be denied.”

Simon knew that. Truly, he did. But that’s not why he called them here. He called them here to help preserve—the empire. The great Seleste Empire. Now Simon understood them. Understood the irony in the words as he thought them. There was a time when Simon hated hearing those two words together, but it didn’t last long. He was always the one interested in being king. Everyone in the family knew it.

And in his short reign, they faced complete annihilation for the first time.

Maybe I was never ready, he thought.

Their words hurt, but Simon walked over to the table and changed the display one more time.

“Corruption runs rampant in Seleste. My life has been threatened, and just last week someone acted on those threats. Every day, Koll brings me new information from spies. Seleste is crumbling from the inside, even without the threat of this cloud.”

“That isn’t the only thing Koll brings you,” Sam said. There was a sly smirk on her face.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Simon asked.

“I saw the way he looks at you. And the way you look at him.”

Simon felt his muscles twitch.

“How would father feel? Knowing that his only son turned into an abomination?”

“I’m sure the same way he felt about his daughter being one,” Simon said sternly.

Sam’s eyes widened. Then they lowered and she began to smile, as if she expected Simon to say that.

“Your sexual interests aren’t important,” Sarah chimed in.

“It’s just kind of ironic,” Sam said. “None of us would have been able to provide mother an heir. Simon snuggles with Koll, you probably took some vow of chastity, and men disgust me. This really is the end of the Seleste Empire.”

Simon sighed deeply and walked up the steps to his throne. He sat down and took off his ceremonial robe.

“Perhaps you’re right,” Simon said.

They both looked at him with surprise.

“I know of the wrongs I’ve done. The crimes I’ve committed against you two. I was never right to be king. I just wanted it just so I could say I was king.”

Simon laughed a bit. “I’m such a fool.”

Sarah walked up the steps to comfort her brother. She lightly touched his arm and began rubbing it. Sam was still at the bottom of the steps.

“You’re right,” Sam said. “But we can still make this right. Dissolve the Empire. Set people free.”

“It isn’t that simple,” Simon said. “War is coming here whether we like it or not. From all fronts.”

Simon lightly tapped his throne and the display on the table began to move. It became wider and moved closer to them. Instead of ominous space clouds, images of foreign planets and armies started to appear.

“My intel suggests that there is a two-pronged attack coming to Seleste. Rebels from within, and General Trope’s old army.”

“I thought Trope died the same day as mother?” Sarah asked.

“He did. But his men took their time rebuilding. They had a cause to rally behind, and a new leader. And on Seleste, a group of rebels known as Selene’s Spirits have given Trope’s people access. Trade routes, resources, weapons, information. I’ve been shutout for months now, no more than a figurehead.”

Sam and Sarah didn’t say anything.

“I have some men still loyal to me. But I need more. We, and every innocent person spread out across Seleste will be killed if we don’t stop them. Trope’s men aren’t looking to reign over us. They’re looking to end us.”

“Which is why I need your help. I’m appealing to your empathy. We cannot let these people die. Millions of innocent lives will be lost if we simply lay down. I’m not asking you to help the Empire. Just help me. Help these people.”

It was a while before Sam or Sarah said anything. At first, they just looked at each other. Then, it was Sarah who agreed to help Simon. She walked up to her brother and offered him a hug. Simon embraced his sister and he couldn’t for the life of him remember the last time he hugged her.

Sam took a bit longer to come around. But eventually, she too joined Simon for a hug and even though she smelled like death, Simon enjoyed every second of it.

“So, what’s the plan?” Sam asked.

“My king, check the sensors!” it was Koll who had come back into the throne room sprinting. He was completely out of breath and was pointing at the display table in the center of the room.

Simon rushed to the display and checked the sensors. Something was headed right for them.

“What is it?” Sarah asked.

“And why hasn’t it been shot down?” Sam asked.

“Our defenses have been compromised. Get down!” Simon yelled before jumping out of the way.

A small ship crashed directly into the Seleste Temple. As it hurled through the throne room, bricks flew everywhere, the display was instantly destroyed, and much of the throne room was filled with debris. After the dust settled, Simon approached the ship, sword out ready to kill whoever was in it.

“Who dares attack Simon Seleste?! You will not trespass in my home, with my sisters present, and live to tell the tale”

“What he said,” Sam muttered.

The dust was finally completely away from the ship and Simon almost fainted when he realized what was going on.

“I—I know this ship,” he said.

It took him a moment, he had to quell the rage within his heart, but he did know this ship. Simon walked closer to it, inspected it. Yes, he knew this ship. And he couldn’t believe it was here, in Seleste, right now.

“Scan for life forms,” Simon said. What was left of the throne room obeyed his command. It showed him the body of someone inside the ship. And they were alive.

“Who is that, Simon?” Sarah asked.

“This ship belongs to the best pilot Seleste has ever known,” Simon said.

“You mean—?” Koll asked.

“Holy shit.”

“May the universe preserve us.”

“This is Tom Morris’ ship. And I’m pretty sure that’s Tom Morris. And he’s alive!”

 

END PART 2

 

I really hope you’re enjoying this new short story. Things are only about to get crazier for Simon, Sarah, and Sam. Is it possible that their mother is alive? And how will they stop the inevitable fall of the Seleste Empire? You’ll have to read part 3 to find out! My longest short story yet, and another part of the Mystic Man Universe. Until next time, everyone! Peace, Love, and Comics!!

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