Emperor's Service @lord22
Settling Accounts

Chapter Eleven: Settling Accounts

The Dominion was a marked improvement over the Confederacy of Old. That didn't mean it didn't have its darker side.

Liberty's Reports, volume III

In the darkness of her quarters Serena Calabas gazed with dead eyes upon casualty reports. How many names were there flashing before her eyes. How many families would be missing those names. It was just a statistic to her, of course. Humans weren't capable of comprehending the results of genocides, they only saw individual murders. People needed symbols.

The worst part was that these men had died for nothing. Or it felt that way anyway.

Would this ever end?

The strange thing was that long ago she had wanted this kind of thing. Now that she had it she found herself wondering if command was really all it was cracked up to be. The door behind her opened and she glanced back to see Morgan.

'Serena, the Emperor is calling a meeting.' said Morgan.

'Thousands of people are dead, Morgan.' Serena said 'Thousands of people are dead because of me.'

'It wasn't your fault.' said Morgan.

'It was all for nothing. Tens of thousands of men went to war and I screwed it up.' said Serena 'I let the Cerebrate get away. Nothing is solved. The zerg are still raiding our space. The Squadrons and the Dominion are still skirmishing.

I am so sick of this war.'

'Ma'am, the meeting.' said Morgan.

'Right, right, I'll handle it.' said Serena.

She found Arcturus Mengsk in the meeting room alongside a great many other officers. Carolina Davis was there, but not Warfield who was on another ship. Mengsk smiled as she entered. 'Ah, Serena. I'm glad you could make it.' he paused. 'Is everything alright?'

'Everything is fine sir.' said Serena 'I'm afraid I haven't been myself.'

'No matter.' said the Emperor 'Take a seat. We can't begin until our last guest arrives anyway.'

'Last guest?' asked Serena.

At that moment into the door walked Mojo. The protoss towered over everyone else in the room and as they took a seat he stood. 'Thank you for your timely rescue Commander. Now that I and my brethren are free we can assist you in your mission.

I have received communication from Aiur. Schezar has built his base within of an ancient Protoss Fortress. Just west of his base, he has found old technology within one of our temples that enables his ghosts to control zerg cerebrates.'

'In that case how did he control the first one?' asked Davis.

'We are unsure.' said Mojo.

'I believe I can shed some light on that.' said Mengsk 'Judging from his records Schezar has kept track of a great deal of Confederate research. He spent his time rescuing people marked for termination by Cerberus Squadron and managed to piece together the Confederate research.

Using potent drugs he pacified the cerebrate and worked to gradually take control of it. His research continued even after the fall of the Confederacy and reached its conclusion when he began using the creature to distract the Dominion Fleet while he launched his raids.'

'Whatever his methods he must be dealt with for both our sakes.' said Mojo 'We must kill him and his pet cerebrate.'

'Unfortunately I will not be able to send my full force to Aiur.' said Mengsk 'I have received reports that a new wave of zerg is emerging from unknown space. General Warfield and Davis will be attending to the defenses. Serena, you will cooperate with Mojo to deal with Schezar and his cerebrate once and for all.'

'I understand.' said Serena.

Thus it was that Serena's part of the fleet set out alongside the newly liberated protoss. For the sake of keeping their command structure centralized Mojo and a taskforce of his protoss were on the Medea. Mostly the protoss just observed his troops in action.

When Serena had a spare minute, she approached Mojo. 'Mojo, do you mind if I ask you something?'

'You may ask.' said Mojo 'I do not promise an answer.'

'Why haven't your people made contact before now?' asked Serena.

'We did not deem your knowledge of our existence necassary.' said Mojo 'We prefer to stay out of the affairs of lesser races.'

'Right, sure, well this member of a lesser race has a few problems with your battle strategy.' said Serena 'If we'd known about your war with the zerg you could have used your vast resources to hire terran mercenaries as cannon fodder and decrease your own losses.

That alone might have tipped the balance in your favor.'

'And you would have accepted such subjugation?' asked Mojo.

'A wise human once said: "Money is the root of all evil."' said Serena 'Terrans will do anything for it. Until recently no cared which government came out on top, only whether they survived and profited by it. Whole planets have been destroyed in pursuit of credits.'

'Why would your race pursue such things?' asked Mojo, looking a bit horrified despite his lack of facial features.

'Some because they think it gives them power.' said Serena 'Others so they can buy luxuries, wine and woman. Me, I'm not interested in money at all.'

'And what do you seek?' asked Mojo.

'Fame. Recognition.' said Serena 'I want to go down in history as one of the great military geniuses. Like Napoleon or Alexander the Great. Of course like them I'll probably get beat out by Jesus no matter what I do.'

'Who is this Jesus?' asked Mojo.

'Main character of the basis for a terran religion.' said Serena 'Ironically he represents the antithesis to our values. We've got a lot of bibles on the ship, I'll give you one. They date back all the way from the days of Old Earth.'

'This Old Earth was your original homeworld?' guessed Mojo.

'Yeah, pretty much. It got taken over by a group of extremists calling themselves the UPL.' said Serena 'They initiated all kinds of purges and genocides. Our descendants were some of the people marked for destruction.'

'So you fled?' guessed Mojo.

'No, we got sent into space to colonize a distant world by a man named Doran Routhe.' said Serena 'Unfortunately the navigation system on our ship screwed up and we ended up drifting through space and crash landing here.'

'And this bible was your holy text?' guessed Mojo.

'No, it was one of the holy texts that survived. There are tons of others.' said Serena 'The Quran, the Talmud, and a lot of others. We have hundreds of religions. The UPL tried to destroy all of them. Except the bible. That they tried to cut pieces out of it and rewrite it to support their genocidal humanist policies.

Of course that failed completely.'

'Why?' asked Mojo.

'One of the members of the ship which crashlanded on Tarsonis had a photographic memory.' said Serena with a shrug. 'He'd been sent here because he'd been caught hoarding books that had been scheduled for destruction. But he'd read them all, and after we crash landed he spent his whole life recording them. Funny part was he was an atheist. He didn't believe a word of one of the books he was writing.'

'Then why record them?' asked Mojo 'If he did not believe in them what purpose could it serve to allow their continued existence?'

'Just because you don't agree with something doesn't mean it should be destroyed.' said Serena 'That kind of thinking is half the reason our history turned out the way it did. Good terrans don't burn books. We just don't.'

'I see now.' said Mojo 'Your kind have never left their Aeon of Strife.'

'Aeon of Strife?' asked Serena.
'It was a period of destruction, a period which caused our Xel'naga creators to abandon us.' said Mojo 'It is a very long tale, and there is no time for it now. Aiur was torn by war, until eventually the Conclave established the Khala and brought an end to war.

It led our people into a golden age. Until we faced the zerg.'

'Right, I guess that brings us roughly up to speed.' said Serena 'Hey, why exactly was Tassadar fired?'

Mojo looked a bit reluctant to speak. 'Tassadar was ordered to burn the infested terran worlds. He interpreted this order as waiting until the zerg had overrun terran defenses, before annihilating them. Some believed that he should have destroyed terran worlds as soon as the zerg arrived. Others that he should have destroyed the terrans entirely.

My brothers are not favorably disposed to your race.'

That much she'd figured. 'Brothers? As in family?' asked Serena 'Or part of the same order?'

'The Khalai are all of the same family.' said Mojo, confused at the question. 'Who we were born from and conceived by is not relevant to us.'

'So how do you raise children?' asked Serena 'And get married?'

'Mates are chosen for us by the Judicator caste, based on who they believe will be a favorable match.' said Mojo 'When children are born they taken from their parents and are raised in the schools of their caste.

I sense that you do not approve.'

'We terrans mark getting rid of the caste systems of Old Earth as one of our moments of triumph.' admitted Serena 'Arranged marriages are considered a sign of barbarity. The sort of thing decadent aristocrats do to keep their power. Like the Confederacy.'

'The will of the individual is irrelevant.' said Mojo.

'I hate to tell you this, but if it hadn't been for the will of the individual the zerg would be stronger than ever.' said Serena.

'Explain.' said Mojo.

'A little while ago I was made Magistrate of Mar Sara.' said Serena 'No one wanted me to get the job, I had to go against my family, my society and everything that was expected of me. I ignored them all and I got that job. I was able to save Mar Sara, and help found the Dominion which had done huge amounts of damage to the zerg.

If I hadn't been there, Mar Sara probably would have fallen. Antiga Prime too. And since the Old Families were willing to write off whole planets for an experiment, I'll bet they wouldn't have gotten serious about the zerg invasion until it was too late.'

'Your Confederacy was nothing like the Conclave.' said Mojo defensively.

'Of course it wasn't, but that is not the point.' said Serena 'The point is that when a system of government ceases to concern itself with the safety and wellbeing of its citizens and instead turns its mind to personal matters then it no longer has the right to govern anyone.

The sector overthrew the Confederacy because it represented everything which was wrong with our world. The Dominion that replaced it has a chance of being something better.'

There was a moment of silence between them. Mojo was looking at her, and Serena had the feeling she was being scanned. '…Tell me, Serena Calabas, what role was planned for you by your family?'

'I was supposed to marry the man you are fighting.' said Serena.

That got her point across. She could tell.

Emperor Mengsk was in his office on his flagship when the door opened. Carolina Davis entered the room anf bowed. He set aside the reports.

'Arcturus, can I speak with you?' asked Carolina.

'Of course Carolina, how can I help you?' said Mengsk.

'Some months ago you asked me to set up an entirely separate system of observation on the Old Families and Samir Duran.' said Carolina 'It was to work independantly of all existing spy networks and remain a complete secret.'

'Really?' asked Mengsk 'Why don't I remember it?'

'You ordered me to oversee an operation which deliberately suppressed all memory regarding it.' said Carolina 'I gather you were concerned that Samir Duran might read your mind and learn everything.'

'And you were forbidden to bring it up save in case of emergency.' mused Mengsk. He'd come up with this idea a while ago. He wasn't aware he had acted on it. 'Ah, that does sound like me. Can you show me proof that the memories are real and not forged?'

Carolina produced a golden crest with the symbol of an eagle fighting with a snake upon it. She placed it on the table. Mengsk picked it up and verified it was real. 'Very well. Activate the code.'

'Codeword: The Day a Demon Returned.' said Carolina.

Memories came flying back. He recalled arranging the spy system on Tarsonis with Carolina, and setting up a secondary system to monitor Carolina. It was actually quite painful.

'I'm told regaining memories can be painful.' said Carolina.

'Yes, yes it can.' said Mengsk, rubbing his head. 'Now, what information has this new organization found?'

'The reports just came in.' said Carolina 'The theft of the Psi Disruptor was done with the assistance of three members of the Old Families. Constantino Terra arranged for the defense fleet to be out of position when the Squadrons arrived. Tara Bennet engineered a number of power outages that blocked off all communication, giving Constantino Terra an alibi. Finally Ava Holt provided a civilian transport to move the Psi Disruptor without attracting attention.

We don't know where it went. But the Squadrons never laid hands on it.'

'I'd like to see the information on this.' said Mengsk.

'Of course.' said Carolina. 'Here are the files.'

Mengsk took the files from her hands and shifted through them gradually. Things were worse than he had expected. It was a shame Serena's faith had been misplaced. Even so, he could still account for this. '…Carolina, return to the Medusa. I'm going to organize our retribution personally.'

It was a large round meeting room on the planet of Tarsonis. It had once been the location of a meeting room for the Old Family Heads. Now it was the meeting room of an Emperor and only one person was coming here.

Arcturus Mengsk sat at the far edge of the round table looking over the reports. Soon enough the door opened and the guards let her into the room. Ava looked much older than the last time they had met, though that had been years ago before Angus Mengsk had been assassinated and war had taken place on Korhal.

'Ava Holt, I'm glad you could accept my invitation.' said Mengsk. 'Take a seat, please.'

'It was my pleasure, Emperor.' she said 'How can I be of service?'

Arcturus Mengsk drew out a gun and fired it three times. The first shot caught her in the shoulder, the second in the gut and the third in the head. Her dead corpse reeled back in the seat, the blood spilling all over the floor.

'That will do, Ms. Holt.' said Mengsk, placing the gun down.
The doors opened and the guards entered. Mengsk stood up while reloading his pistol. 'Dispose of the corpse and get a janitor in here.'

Arcturus Mengsk had a number of advantages over the Old Families. He'd gained them long before he'd ever intended to fight the Confederacy. In the marine core he'd learned how to take direct action. And while he was on the run he hadn't had the news to keep his reputation prestine. Instead he had to keep his reputation good through acts of goodwill, trading favors, and honoring his arrangements.

Yet the greatest advantage Arcturus had was this: He wasn't pretending to be something he was not.

There were few things more stressful than being a Head of the Old Families. Ever since dad had died Mom had been distant. Even more than when Tara's older brother had disappeared. But she could handle this.

She just needed time to relax.

Coming down the steps of the mall she went through the revolving doors. There was a sudden shimmering before her eyes and ghosts appeared. Their faces were hidden behind masks. Tara went cold. There was a sound like thunder and her bodyguards were shot dead.

'Tara Bennet.' said their leader 'The Emperor would like to have a word with you.'

She turned to run but was was grabbed and hauled backward. Struggling against their grip she thrashed in vain as she was dragged toward a car. 'No, please! Don't kill me! I didn't do anything! Please!'

She was thrown in and the door shut.

Constantino Terra made his way through the halls of his estate. Duran had promised to stay in touch but it had been days since they had received any communication. He'd kept track of where the shipments were going, but he wasn't sure how to use the information.

Reaching the computer room where he kept his most guarded files he swiped his keycard. It slid open and Constantino entered, making his way toward the chair near the computer system. Then he halted. Someone was sitting in it. Constantino turned and ran for the door, but as soon as it opened he saw a team of ghosts on the other side, their guns pointed at him.

He shut the door and turned around.

'You know, your security pales in comparison to my Father's, Constantino.' said Arcturus Mengsk, whirling around but still veiled in shadow. 'I could have broken it in my sleep.'

'Emperor Arcturus, what is the meaning of-' began Constantino.

A gun was raised in Mengsk's hand. 'You're about to be called to account for Valhalla V, Constantino, and the thousands who are dead there.'

'I don't know what you are talking about.' said Constantino.

'You always were a bad liar, even when we were children.' said Mengsk.

'I don't know what this is about, but-' began Constantino.

'You know.' said Mengsk 'Ava Holt is dead. So is Tara Bennet. Duran will soon join them. I know everything about your meeting with them. The Old Families have become pampered by their ghost academy. They've forgotten how to use more traditional methods of spying with the advent of psychic assassins.

I have many methods of observing my enemies. So don't tell me you, of all people, are innocent, Constantino. Because that reminds me of Korhal. And the memory of Korhal makes me very angry.'

Constantino tried to hide his fear. 'Why am I still alive?'

'Carolina Davis tells me you keep tabs on everyone you do business with.' said Mengsk 'I suspect that you likewise kept track of what the Squadrons did with the Psi Disruptor. However I haven't found any sign of it on any of their worlds. So tell me, who got the Psi Disruptor? Kel'moria, or Umojan?'

Constantino considered things. Coming clean was really his only option here. '…Umojan. It was Umojan.'

Mengsk stood and came out of the shadows with a smile. 'You are wise to cooperate. The only reason you are still alive is because your daughter may yet be of some use to me. But I'm running you out of business. Your assets are going to be liquidated. Your personal fortune is going to the Dominion.

You're done.

There is a car waiting at the base of Terra Tower. It'll take you to the starport from where you will be escorted to the planet you will retire on. Your family will be along shortly. Do you understand?'

'Yes. Yes I do.' said Constantino.

'Good.' said Mengsk. 'Go.'

Terra was escorted out of the building and down the steps of Terra tower. Sure enough there was a car waiting for him and the front door was opened by a solider in marine armor. Constantino looked back to where Mengsk was standing, gun now sheathed. He got in.

Then he looked in the rearview mirror.

'Hello, Father.' said Nova Terra.

There was no recognition in that tone. He knew suddenly the person who had once been his daughter had been ordered to say it. Her eyes were cold and narrowed, empty and devoid of feeling. Before Constantino could move a garot cord was looped around his neck and he was pulled back. His own daughter tightened the noose around his neck, and he could say nothing.

His feet kicked against the windshield, breaking it as he tried to pull off her grip.

His daughter did not recognize him. Her memories had been wiped. Either Serena had lied, or Mengsk had changed his mind. Changed his mind when he'd learned about Terra's betrayal.

As the wire cut deeper and deeper into his flesh, Terra's vision went dark.

Arcturus Mengsk observed as Constantino's legs went limp outside the car. He was dead. With that completed he looked to his associates, and then to another car approaching. 'Begin a search of the Terra Tower. Find all information you can. I have one more thing to attend to, gentlemen. Then we'll be finished.'

He took the car out to a deserted pier at the edge of one of Tarsonis' seas. There Tara Bennet, who couldn't have been even twenty was dragged out to the edge and Mengsk made his way forward. She was crying.

'Please, please don't kill me! I didn't do anything I swear!' she screamed.

'On the contrary, you are guilty of treason.' said Mengsk, drawing out his pistol and checking the cartridges. 'You were a part of a conspiracy meant to undermine the sovereignty of the New Dominion. I expect had things gone as planned within a few years Duran should have taken Tarsonis and established a new Confederacy with himself at the head.

However that is all the moot point, Ms. Bennet.'

He raised the gun to her head.

'No! PLEASE!' she screamed.

Mengsk pulled the trigger.

There was an audible click. Tara's eyes opened as she realized she was still alive. Mengsk gave her a fatherly smile and lowered the gun. 'Do you know why you are still alive Ms. Bennet?'

She remained silent.

'Answer the question.' said Mengsk.

'No, no I don't know.' she sobbed.

'Because I know why you joined Duran's conspiracy. I know why all of you did.' said Mengsk 'Ava Holt was a power player. She was trying to restore herself to a position of influence and underestimated me. There was nothing personal in executing her. Constantino Terra appealed to my better nature and then used it to try and attack me.

You though? I killed your father. You were a spoiled child, groomed to succeed as head of your family. Your ascension was marked by watching your parent shot to death on interplanetary television to cheering crowds.

I know what it is to lose ones' family, Ms. Bennet. Believe me. My father's head was never found. I understand, even respect your motivations. Which I why I will let you off with this warning: If you ever attempt to cross the Dominion again I will kill you and everyone you love.

Do we understand eachother?'

She regained some measure of composure, which wasn't much given the tears coming from her eyes. 'Yes.'

'Good.' said Mengsk 'Now, what shall we tell the press?'

Serena was in her office on the Medea, drinking blessed coffee when she got a message from the Emperor. She really didn't want to talk right now, but he was the boss. Turning it on she saw Arcturus Mengsk positively beaming. He looked probably happier than she'd ever seen him.

'Well don't you look nausiatingly happy.' said Serena 'Who did you get revenge on this week?'

'Oh, I uh,' Mengsk paused 'I was expecting to have to have a long term business relationship with some people I truly loath. I don't have to anymore. It'll be on the news soon enough.'

'Right,' said Serena 'so why are you calling exactly?'

'Well I just thought I'd tell you that I have some leads on the Psi Disruptor.' said Mengsk 'Combined with what we found on Valhalla V I've got an iron clad case for going to war with our next enemy. Of course it might not come to that, but the very fact that I have good political reason to wipe my enemies off the map will make them think twice about crossing me.'

'Of course.' said Serena 'Arcturus if you want to keep your secrets that is fine. But I do have work to do.'

'Right, right,' said Mengsk 'sorry to disturb you.'

The screen switched off. Serena leaned back in her seat, and, on a whim, turned the television on to the news. She watched the recent reports.

'…That son of a bitch.'

She wanted to call him back and demand an explanation. But she'd already figured out why he did all this. And there was no sense in complaining if she wasn't going to do anything about it. Constantino Terra had crossed Arcturus Mengsk for the last time and gotten taken down the hard way.

Michael, Emily Swallow, and Tychus Findlay were watching the news as well.

'Breaking news. Kate Lockwell is here with a special report of treasonous activity on Tarsonis.'

'Thanks Donny. Emperor Arcturus personally carried out a purge of the Old Families yesterday. Both Constantino Terra and Ava Holt were executed.' said Kate 'We have here footage of Constantino being strangled in a car with the Emperor looking on. You can see that his legs have smashed the windshield-'

'Thank you very much Kate.' said Donny, cutting away. 'Our sources tell us that Constantino Terra and Ava Holt were part of a conspiracy to overall the legitimate planetary government of the Dominion. Fortunately Tara Bennet of the Bennet family alerted the Dominion of the conspiracy and action was taken.

Emperor Arcturus had this to say:'

Mengsk appeared, looking regretful and benevolent. 'The conspirators who were executed earlier today have already assisted the enemies of the Dominion in the theft of vital weapons and equipment. Without this weaponry the assault on Valhalla V was far more costly than it otherwise would have been.

The action was a necessary evil to demonstrate that the Dominion will not tolerate traitors to it, or to humanity. It gave me no pleasure to undertake this duty, but should it become necessary again the enemies of the Dominion will find us at their doorstep.'

'I don't get it.' said Tychus, taking the cigerette from his mouth. 'Why would Arcturus be so open about this? He could have made it look like an accident.'

'There is an age old question: Is it better to be feared or loved?' said Mike 'I suspect Arcturus is trying for both.'

'What do you mean, Mikey?' asked Emily.

'Up until now Arcturus has put on the show of being a benevolent and well intentioned leader who forgives and protects his enemies.' said Michael 'It worked, but his mercy also got people thinking that they could get away with things.

So he makes a public display of just how ruthless he can be. The Old Families never would have openly admitted to having people murdered, but he does. And since most people hate the Old Families to begin with there isn't going to be nearly as much controversy as if he say, had Serena or Raynor murdered.'

'Yeah, I see. Teaches people not to mess with him, and gives em an incentive to take his side.' said Tychus 'Classic carrot and stick. Still, taking them out himself? Mengsk is one hell of a badass.'

'I'm glad you're so enthusiastic about state sanctioned murder, Mr. Findlay.' said Emily, voice disapproving.

'Well what else was he supposed to do?' asked Tychus.

'He could have had them arrested and made to stand trial.' said Michael.

'What, so they could buy their way out?' said Tychus 'Nah, with rich guys like this you gotta take em down the hard way.'

They were never going to agree on this.

Authors Note:

So yeah, despite never crossing the moral event horizon in this story, Arcturus Mengsk remains Arcturus Mengsk. I suppose having shown the best elements of the Dominion I wanted to show its worst. Making an example of the Old Families who met with Duran seemed the best way to do that.

I hate to say it, but updating this fic has rapidly become a chore. The problem is that none of the characters in Enslavers were very memorable. Kazansky and Magellan were included so that they had an excuse to include a Science Vessel and Wraith hero and they don't even appear until the campaign is half over. Mojo is pretty important, but I don't really get much of a sense of personality from him. Arcturus Mengsk actually has a couple of memorable moments in the campaign {telling Aldaris to shut up is one.} but they all happen in a non canon mission.

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