Prosperous: Chutes & Ladders

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Chapter 24

“EMPEROR,” RILIQ SAID AS HE RUSHED INTO THE ROOM.

Lixu sat behind a wide desk, reading the reports of the raids. He watched Riliq rush up to him, holding out a holo-pad.

“Sir, the last of Amidien’s decoy ships were destroyed.” He handed over the holo-pad. “It got away with information about the Paskian decoy and copied the recorders of at least three destroyed ships. I recommend putting him in solitaire for a year for this failure.”

Lixu paged through the text. Suddenly he sat up straight.

“This ship has an… Oadagan living in it. Amidien won’t be reprimanded for not destroying it, Riliq.”

“It has a… May I review the information myself, sire?” Riliq held his hand out for the holo-pad. Lixu handed it over, sitting back in his chair.

Riliq read the information.

“It was found abandon on a world that has never been in our territories.” Riliq looked up at him. “How did one get that far out of our territory? And how have we not known one was living in this man’s ship for this long?”

Lixu tapped his fingers together, mulling over the information. “Those are good questions, aren’t they, Riliq?” Lixu leaned forward, fixing a hard stare on his Admiral. “I want that Oadagan, Riliq.”

Riliq wasn’t sure he’d heard his emperor correctly. “I don’t understand, Emperor.”

“I want that ship. If humans discover that a single cell can grow in any computer, we will lose our advantage when it comes time to strike. We cannot let this Oadagan remain in human hands. I want that ship brought to Tetra.”

“Emperor, you know Oadagan bond with their captain and become unwaveringly in their loyalty to them. This one has been with this captain’s family for two generations – we don’t even have ones that have been with a captain for more than ten years because their loyalty poses a treasonous risk. It has lived with humans for too long, become accustomed to their beliefs of individualism and freedom - it this thing gets anywhere near one of our ships and conveys this to them, our ships could easily turn against us and our allies. I strongly encourage you to give the order to destroy this Oadagan and its captain, rather than attempt capture.”

Emperor Lixu thought for a moment, and then shook his head. “You are right. They are more loyal to each other than their captains... Present the issue to the scientists and physicians tending our Oadagan and be very careful not to get any of ours near this ship.”

“Yes, Emperor. I know you don’t wish to reprimand Amidien, Emperor, but understand that he left the Eslin system before he was ordered. Officers have reported he appeared reluctant to carry out your orders. I’m concerned he may compromise your plans, sire.

“I’ve read the reports. His loyalty does concern me.” Amidien thought about the problem for a moment. “Send troops to pick up his family and have them brought to the palace. Tell that unruly wife of his that we have had death threats against the royal family.”

“Gladly, Emperor.” Riliq bowed and left the room.

Lixu looked back at the holo-pad. Amidien could be a problem, but he wouldn’t be the first child Lixu had put to death for betraying him.

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