I was the third son and the fourth child. My parents barely had time for me or any of us really. My father was Emperor Edward Thomas Christian Saint. I was always surrounded by guards and people who wanted something. I was taught by tutors in the palace with little freedom. I had grown to loath and hate politics and the people that tried to use them.
From the time I could walk and talk I had been schooled and taught. My obsession was the military but there was no way I would ever be allowed to serve. My older brothers had been married when they reached sixteen and so had my sister and that was just two years ago. I should have expected it as I walked into the huge ballroom.
This was my sixteenth birthday ball and the whole room was full of the people from my father's court. I was dressed in a light suit and blended in with the others as I moved through the room. I smiled when I saw Emily Bright, she had been taking martial arts classes with me for over a year.
I crossed to her and she turned before grinning, "hey birthday boy."
I nodded to the other girls with her, "I see you managed to get dragged here."
She sighed and nodded, "my parents were very ... firm."
Her parents were the duke and duchess of Candle Bright and loyal followers of my father. I looked around and frowned, "there seems to be a few more guards than there should."
She looked around, "I noticed that and you are late."
I snorted, "lady Becky used a electo shock stick to make me come."
Lady Becky was sixteen like me and to everyone else it was strange to have a girl as my body servant but there was a reason. Emily laughed and turned as a girl stopped next to her. I sighed and thought to get things over with and headed towards my father. He and mother were talking with duke and duchess of Macon.
My older brothers Jeremy and Henry were with them, Elizabeth was across the city with her baby who was sick. I stepped out into the clear space around my family and stopped as my senses screamed. Six guards turned and pulled weapons and I reacted. I pulled the slim ten millimeter plasma pistol from the shoulder holster.
I fired as the guards turned towards my father. There were screams and panic as several more shots joined mine while I continued to shoot until all the guards were down. My parents and family had been rushed back and into a side room. I reloaded as I looked around and slapped the two guards that appeared to pull me away.
I straightened and holstered my pistol, "where is the guard commander?"
My guards growled and I looked at them, "I want these men checked and I want it done now."
A tall tailored guard stepped out, "you do not command the guards."
I looked at him closely, "let me explain something to you commander. If I do not have the report in one hour I will come and shot you myself."
He smiled, "that will not be as easy as you think."
My pistol swept up and pointed straight between his eyes, "think again."
He looked around, "you would not..."
I stepped closer and put the warm barrel against his head, "I could shoot you right now for incompetence."
He licked his lips and I stepped back, "you have less than an hour."
I spun and walked towards the side door with my two guards following. When I entered the room it was to see my father speaking angrily with several councilors. I started across the room and frowned when I saw Emily with my other two guards. My mother turned, "James what have I told you about wearing that weapon?"
I smiled, "actually it is new so nothing."
My father looked at me, "what did you think you were doing?"
I ignored my brothers, "stopping an attempted assassination."
He looked at me for a minute before looking at my guards, "who was responsible for my son?"
I shifted, "me."
He snorted and my mother touched his arm, "enough ... tell him."
I looked at her and then at father, "tell me what?"
He looked across the room at Emily who was nudged towards us, "the nobles councils have chosen and approved your marriage to Lady Bright."
I turned to look at Emily, "did you know?"
Her face was white as she shook her head. My father cleared his throat, "her parents have approved the union and the Banns have been posted."
I glared at him, "you did not ask."
He straightened, "I am your father and do not need to ask."
I kept looking at him as years of anger and resentment filled me. I turned to Emily, "this is your choice."
She walked towards me but kept her eyes on mine, "we do not..."
I waved to cut her off, "yes or no."
I felt everyone shifting as she shrugged, "you are cute even if you are stubborn."
I smiled slightly and she nodded, "yes."
I looked at my father, "that was the last thing you will ever order me to do."
I looked around and smiled at my mother's court cleric, "with the power that is mine as the Empress's knight and protector. With the approval of both senior nobles to marry I seal our marriage now in front of the emperor and his court."
Talk broke out as my father's face went red, "QUIET!"
I returned his look, "I will be at Giland. I do not want to hear from you again. You are dead to me."
I spun and started for the door as the room broke out in talk again. Emily ran to catch up, "wasn't that a bit rash?"
I glanced at her, "he wanted us married. Now we are married."
She grinned, "but I wanted to wear a suit, not a stupid dress."
I snorted as my mind went over everything I had to do. I used my private comm, "Becky?"
I smiled, "make sure everything gets packed. We are moving to Giland."
Emily was shaking her head and I glanced around, "yes now. Contact lady Bright's maid and have her things packed too."
I turned to head towards a side door through the servants corridors. When I glanced back I stopped, "where did the guards go?"
Emily turned and frowned, "I do not think they left with us..."
A shattering explosion rocked the building and I growled as I realized what had happened. I opened my private comm, "Elizabeth."
It was several moments before she answered, "James what is going on? They said someone tried to kill..."
I cut her off, "the guards are sour. I am calling Phoenix. There was just an explosion and I think ... I think dad is dead. Get Thomas to take you up to the hospital roof and do it without your guards."
The comm screamed and I shut it off before looking around and pulling Emily to the side and touching an imperial seal that was spaced along the wall. The panel slid aside and I pulled her in before hitting the close button. I gestured to the other side of the room, "strip and let the laser scan you to fit you for a combat uniform."
She grinned, "now that is one of the best things you have said all night."
I turned to an intercom and hit the button, "Sarah."
It was silent and I sighed, "I know you monitor the room. You saw me accept and bind myself to Emily."
"That is not the point. Your father or mother were the only ones to authorize me to speak in front of someone not in the family."
I sagged slightly, "so they are dead."
"Affirmative. A shrapnel bomb disabled and killed many and then several guards entered and killed the rest."
I started undressing, "my brothers children?"
"Several guards have invaded the royal quarters and killed them."
I cursed and moved to open a cabinet, "is Becky still in my quarters?"
I was afraid of the answer but Sarah chuckled, "she slipped out with your weapons bag."
I grinned, "are you tracking her?"
"She is heading towards you but there is a guard check point."
I pulled the combat uniform on and then the shoulder holster and then a vest with empty magazine pockets. I opened another cabinet and tossed an older service plasma pistol in a combat thigh holster to Emily. I pulled my pistol and checked the magazine as I waited for her to put the holster on, "Sarah initiate Phoenix. Elizabeth is your primary, her son Michael is the secondary."
"Understood. Moving home fleet back into the system now and activating the system reserves."
I smiled as Emily strutted to me and opened the panel, "constant track Sarah but do not respond unless we are alone."
I started down the hall before turning a corner and walking towards the two guards blocking the hall. They looked at us but did not react until I pulled my weapon and shot each in the head, "Becky!"
She peeked around another corner before starting for me as she dragged the heavy bag, "what did you do with my suit?"
I smiled, "I am glad to see you too."
I looked at Emily, "do you know how to get up to the ready Vipers using the old service stairs?"
She nodded and I looked at Becky, "take my bag up and wait for me."
Emily touched my arm, "what are you going to do?"
I turned to walk away, "kill a rat and seal the throne."
I walked quickly but stayed in the back service ways. When I walked out across from the huge ornate throne room doors six guards were struggling to force it open. I did not slow as I pulled my weapon and started shooting. The only one left alive was the guard commander who had backed against the door with his hands up.
I put the hot muzzle of my pistol against his head, "give me the key."
He licked his lip, "what key?"
I shifted and slugged him before stepping back, "the relic vault key."
.... There is more of this story ...