The End of an Era

WARNING: Some of the following may not be suitable for all audiences, viewer discretion is advised.

Palace City

Camera drones can be seen buzzing around a giant field of open land created by an intersection of several main roads leading through the city. The sun is slowly making its way above the horizon. Despite the early hour, the plaza is filled to the brim with sentients of all races, sub-races and genders, humming anxiously in waiting of things to come. It would seem the entire city has gathered for what is about to happen. Two lines of heavily armored elite guards are guarding a narrow empty strip of land connecting the Palace itself and a large circular podium in the centre of the Plaza. Members of the Krath security can be seen dispersed through the area.

All of a sudden, a sharp crescendoing tone cuts through the morning breeze. One note, two, three. The horn choir drowns out every single sound and signals that the preparations have come to an end. The massive palace door opens with a thunderous sound to reveal a duo of sentients standing behind it. Once the door ceases its movement, the two start making their way to the stage. The crowd, silenced by the horns, bursts into cheers and ovations as they start to recognize the pair. Kalzel Gryjiss, a scarred Nautolan wearing something half-way between a worn robe and a suit of armor and Cuyan Hulo, a behemoth of a Mandalorian, clad from head to toe in a crimson set of armor, more suited for a battlefield than a ceremony. As they reach the podium, the crowd pipes down, anxious to hear the news. Cuyan approaches the speaker’s stand and addresses the crowd.

“Men and women of the Krath Dynasty. During these past months we have faced trials the likes of which we have never before encountered. Varro Belle’s betrayal did not only damage us in a literal sense, but also provided a painful realization of what we had become. We left ourselves exposed and defenseless in our decadence. We were too late to act and many of our comrades have paid the highest of prices for our mistakes. The Krath Dynasty was picked apart by vultures and burned away in the flames started by those we once considered friends.”

The crowd now rests in nigh-absolute silence. It would seem that the Mandalorian’s words have pulled more than one heartstring. Leaning against the podium, Cuyan raises his voice.

“The Dynasty failed to protect its citizens. The Dynasty had failed to maintain control within its territory. The Dynasty needs to evolve if we are to survive – and thrive. Today marks the end of an era for Krath and her denizens. Today marks the end of a dynasty, and the birth of an empire! People of Krath I give you your emperor, Lazarus Kell!”

Cuyan takes a step back and salutes in tandem with Kalzel as they set their sight on something beyond the skyline. Soon after the sound of an ATR-6 engine fills the plaza as the ship descends on the podium. The entrance opens and a massive Amani dressed in regal black robes steps out. The crowd goes wild as Lazarus addresses the crowd with his hands raised. Taking to the podium, the emperor nods to the two commanders who salute and then take a few steps back. After waiting for the crowd to calm down again, Lazarus starts his speech.

“My people, the past few months have been taxing on us all. The name Varro Belle brings back many memories and reminds us of the open wounds that weren’t yet given proper time to heal. The internal strife has struck both the general populace and the ruling apparatus. Belle’s betrayal has exposed our weaknesses, capitalized on our apathy. We were caught with our metaphorical pants down and I will be the first to admit that. The Krath Dynasty has proven a great state. But our lack of attention to its needs had left it vulnerable. When Belle executed several high-ranking members of the state and made away with our ships, it was more than an act of betrayal; it was a warning that if things continue this way, there will soon be no Krath left. Changes were in order. And today, those changes will be set to motion.”

Looking around the crowd, Lazarus draws breath and continues.

“I know many of you out there will agree that a simple name change means nothing. Words are but sounds in the wind and need to be backed by actions in order to gain weight. And as you know, nearly all important historical events are written in blood. Lord Imperator, bring out our guests.”

The door of the ATR opens once more, this time revealing not one, but three sentients. In the center stands a tall figure covered entirely in black armor. On his left, a tall, lanky human with white hair, clearly unsure about all the attention centered on the stage. On his right an unknown sentient dressed in bloodied rags with cuffs on his hands and a sack hood over his head. The trio steps outside with some physical persuasion needed in the ragged man’s case. Lazarus smiles and turns back to the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the man to the right of Lord Imperator Talak Kasra is none other than Tobias Frost, grandson of the late Grand Moff of Pentastar Marcus Nightcloud. The man to Talak’s left is someone that, I believe, doesn’t need nor deserve introducing.

Talak brings his armored foot down on his prisoner’s calf and forces him to the ground before quite unceremoniously removing the sack hood obscuring his face. A series of gasps runs through the crowd, quickly replaced by angry screams and voices of protest. Several men and women try to climb over the legionnaires guarding the stage, their eyes filled with hatred and murder. The man in rags lifts his head in an attempt to clear the greasy hair from his bruised face. Once satisfied he blinks several times to adjust his eyes to the light and smirks. His yellowish skin shows a network of fresh scars and bruises, with his eyes drooped and sunk, hinting at the conditions he was kept in prior to this reveal. Lazarus extends his arms and waits for the crowd to calm down again.

“This man has committed heinous crimes against the people of Krath. After masquerading as an ally, he betrayed our trust and sought to ally himself with our enemies. After having been turned down, he attempted to hide with his former comrades and later tried to betray them as well. His capture has been an organized effort from not only Krath, but many of its allies, both old and new.”

Lazarus now turns directly to Varro, while the rest of the men present on the podium take several steps back in order to reach safe distance. Lazarus stares the defiant Mirialan directly in his eyes and continues.

“Varro Belle, for theft of Krath property, murder of Krath citizens and high treason against Krath and her laws, I hereby sentence you to death. The execution will take place immediately.”

Varro's Execution

Extending an arm towards the kneeling man, Lazarus concentrates and lifts him several feet into the air. Varro’s muscles clench in a feeble attempt to overcome his invisible confines, but to no avail. Soon after, the prisoner’s face contorts in pain and an audible snap causes him to scream, as one of his fingers bends back and breaks. Another finger follows, pitching Varro’s voice higher. And another. And another. With each snap the man’s voice draws closer to the breaking point. Lazarus closes his fist and clenches, his movements resulting in a swift cascade of the remaining finger bones twisting in unison. The Mirialan screams in pure agony and starts thrashing wildly. Varro’s hands have been mutilated beyond recognition, bones pressing against the skin and turning his upper limbs into disfigured, grotesque clubs. Lazarus mutters something under his breath and throws his other arm forth, strengthening his grip on the flailing Mirialan. With a flick of the wrists, Varro’s arms and legs spread out, as his head droops down in resignation. The Amani starts slowly moving his arms to the sides. Despite this having no visible effect, the screams return at a height and volume yet unmatched. All of a sudden, they stop, even though the Mirialan’s mouth is still gaping open. His eyes are staring at the sky, the once prideful and intelligent gaze replaced by a glass look of a wracked mind. Lazarus yanks his arms to the side and in this final act of revenge, he watches in glee as the body before him starts coming apart. The skin ruptures first, tearing away in shreds, followed by a rosy mist of blood pouring out from the exposed flesh. Musculature and tendons are next, peeling away from the bone and revealing the varying tissues beneath them. Content at last, the newly anointed emperor of the Krath stands still and allows gravity to once again take charge of Varro Belle’s hovering skeleton. As the gored corpse of what was once a man falls to the floor, Lazarus walks across the heap of organic material and sets for the Palace, along with the rest of the assembly.

Varro Belle's Corpse

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