Duke starts his journey
Mother Superior Jessica exchanged a smile with Duke Anjila, who sat across from her with a confident demeanor and regal air, despite the simple clothing he wore. In just two days, he would embark on a highliner journey through the wormhole, aiming to carve out a name for himself and secure a future Emperor, delivered by Alathea.
Bojan, the lower Menthat of the Imperial house, voiced his concerns. “So, are you certain that the forces we’re sending will prevail against the Borg?”
Jessica worked to maintain a composed expression. She glanced at Stephen, the main Menthat of the imperial house, seated beside Bojan, his figure relaxed on a comfortable sofa, hands crossed over an imposing belly. Despite her warnings about Bojan’s inexperience, Stephen had chosen him to accompany the Duke on this new venture.
“Yes, they will face total annihilation in our universe,” Jessica affirmed. “The only remnants will be the current exhibits in the Imperial Museum, seized as trophies by Beli.” She nodded toward Duke Atreides.
He chuckled. “I suppose I should start getting used to that name. Beli Volkov.”
His gaze shifted to the Imperial Menthats. Bojan offered a slight bow of his head while Stephen chose to completely ignore him.
“And the prospective Emperor’s mother, the Ghola girl Alathea, is currently in the clutches of the Borg,” Jessica added.
“That’s our assumption. The Borg will guide Count Beli to her.”
“I’m surprised that your ancestors’ memories don’t provide you with more precise information than what we have in our archives,” rumbled Stephen.
His voice was remarkably deep, matching his imposing stature. Jessica fixed him with her gaze and offered a sweet smile.
“I assumed you were aware that ancestral memories are passed down through the female lineage only. Alathea will bear a son, Emperor Velimir Volkov I.”
Stephen’s face flushed red. “I am aware of such a fact. The ship will carry concubines. Why not use one of them?”
“We did. That’s how we know details you don’t. As I mentioned earlier, the Borg will transmit a message from Alathea, and you will meet her. The child will be conceived, and you will attempt to bring the mother and child back through the black hole to our universe. However, something will go awry during transit. The mother will suffer a severe head injury, but the suk doctor will keep her alive until the child is delivered. She will pass away afterward.”
“Good, the last thing I want is a Ghola as Empress,” Beli expressed with a smile.
“That will not happen, Your Grace,” Jessica assured him. “I share your sentiment. I can guarantee you that the reason we never trained Alathea in the intricacies of court diplomacy is because we foresee her demise during childbirth.”
“That’s for the best.”
“But could you provide us with more details about the events in the battle zone?” Bojan inquired.
Stephen turned toward him. “You have enough data to draw your own conclusions. You possess an overview of all the events, even the meeting of the Terrans before their enslavement by machines. Stop asking questions.”
“Are you certain he is fit for the role?” Beli inquired.
“Your Grace, unfortunately, we must maintain a pretense. You’ll start as a minor house, with barely enough funds to cover military expenses. Thirty thousand years ago, Menthats were exceptionally costly. The likes of Bojan are the only Menthats you’ll be able to afford. Feel free to acquire another one once the Borg venture is complete,” Stephen explained.
Jessica focused on Bojan, who sat there pale and silent.
“But a good Menthat is a necessity if this plan is to succeed,” Beli remarked.
“Not necessarily. We know exactly what will happen and how it will happen. All we need to do is follow the historical record,” Stephen stated.
Beli shifted his gaze toward Jessica. “The Ghola will suffer a significant injury. At the very least, I need a competent Suk doctor to keep her alive during pregnancy.”
“And you shall have one,” Jessica affirmed, nodding as she pressed a small bell button.
The door opened, and a Suk doctor entered, offering a slight bow to Beli.
“This is Dittrich. He has served the sisterhood for the last three decades and is the best Suk doctor we have,” Jessica introduced. She glanced at Stephen. “We decided to provide the best for the new Emperor, ensuring the beginning of our glorious new era of machine freedom without any unpleasant surprises.”
Stephen grinned in response. “A smart move, Mother Superior. After all, the well-being of the future Emperor is paramount.”
Jessica frowned; this Menthat seemed to be taking a bit too much liberty with his words.
Beli stood up. “Well, that settles it. Thank you all for your work. I have to go now and prepare the military side of the endeavor.”
Jessica rose, noticing from the corner of her eyes that both Menthats also quickly got to their feet. It seemed that the seemingly corpulent Stephen had enough muscles hidden away to move at a decent rate.
Stephen bowed to Beli. “Your Grace, the Imperial highliner I arrived in is yours—a gift from the Emperor himself. He’s also included a full battalion of his Feydakins.”
“The Emperor is indeed generous. With that and a portion of House Anjila forces that my brother is kindly providing, we should have all our needs covered,” Duke commented, glancing at the Suk and Menthat. “You two, follow me.”