“The Empire has survived wars, supernovae, democracy, and the
collapse of a neighborhood universe. Let us hope it survives the good
intentions of Agent Royce Ree.”
-personal communication to the Emperor
INSTITUTE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, NESSDAR, BALDESSH
Royce crouched behind a molecular analyzer in the basement of the
planet’s most secure laboratory. The Baldasshi workday had ended a while ago,
and now the only people in the building were the guards—armed, vigilant,
The laboratory’s network power-cycled just once every two months,
giving Royce a half-minute window to retrieve the data he was looking for.
He was two hours overdue at the orbital transfer station, where
mission specifications dictated he should be. But it would be a cold day on
Prion-5 before anyone at HQ acknowledged that the mission specifications were
The network would power-cycle in fifteen seconds.
The lab’s bright lights flickered once, imperceptibly, their
spectrum uncomfortably rich in UV. If he was captured, it would embroil three
civilizations in one of the nastiest diplomatic incidents in recent memory.
The legalities of extraditing him would take years. And that was if anyone
at HQ even acknowledged Royce as an Imperial Agent, after this little
self-assigned break-and-enter exercise.
The Imperial tattoo on the inside of his wrist glowed a pale blue
under the UV; it might get him shot on sight. A clean, fatal, shot, if he was
lucky. It’d be easier to take than the Spymaster’s caustic sarcasm during the
Death was certainly preferable to returning home without the one
thing he had come to this planet for.
Royce darted out onto the floor, towards the lead scientist’s
Royce whirled around, drawing out his ballistic without conscious
thought. And stopped shock-still, a hairsbreadth from pulling the trigger.
Because in the doorway, dressed in a Baldasshi lab-technician’s
uniform, stood the man Imperial Agent Royce Ree had once been married to.
To succeed, he will need help from the last person he’d ever ask: his ex.
THIS IS THE FULL-LENGTH OMNIBUS EDITION (#1 - #5).
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES: PART 1
Royce has a simple mission: steal some tech from the newly-discovered civilization of Baldessh. But Royce thinks HQ’s mission specifications are utterly stupid. So he disobeys a direct order, and goes to steal the tech his own way.
“The Empire has survived wars, supernovae, democracy, and the collapse of a neighborhood universe. Let us hope it survives the good intentions of Agent Royce Ree.”
- Author unknown (personal communication to the Emperor)
DRIVEPOLITIK: PART 2
Royce’s primary mission has been abandoned in the chaos of Baldessh’s hostile takeover by a third party. Now his only objective is to get himself, and his fellow “agent” off-planet as fast as possible. Unfortunately for Royce, nobody is quite ready for him to leave just yet.
“"I find it curious that the agent was not rescued before the comms-blockade, Spymaster."
"Imperial Intelligence is not in a habit of rescuing AWOL agents, Councillor. Apprehend and prosecute, yes, but not rescue."
"I suppose both of us must wait. For…evidence."
"Would you mind waiting somewhere other than my office? Only, we can’t all be Councillors, Councillor, and I have real work to do."
-Conversation, Imperial Intelligence Headquarters, Trinity Prime
THE GORILLA IN THE VENTS: PART 3
Royce now has three days to rescue 40,000 space marines, and he’s just been told that the tech he came to Baldessh for doesn’t actually exist. He also has some real problems—his co-agent’s time is running out, and somewhere, far away, traitors are plotting to start a war that will engulf the entire Universe in flames.
Hope, however, can sometimes be found in the darkest of places. Like ventilation ducts.
“ “Every pre-FTL civilization we know of has alcohol. I mean, imagine being stuck to a single planet, wasting decades just crossing your own solar system! Who wouldn't invent vodka?"
-Gaste Trade Cartel Sales Representative (Conversation overheard at spaceport dive-bar, Gomo-Prime)
MADMAN’S RUE: PART 4
Royce has been betrayed, Baldessh’s burgeoning rebellion is going to be crushed, and all the animals are going to be exterminated. But Royce is smiling. Because Royce, like always, has a Plan.
“ “An Imperial Agent cultivates paranoia the way an Imperial Gardener cultivates prize-winning rosebushes.”
-Master Mess-Remeier,”The Nature of Empire: Volume 7”, 1st Edition
IMPERIAL COMMAND: PART 5
It looks like things are going to be OK for everyone except Royce and his ex. Looks can be deceiving—there are plots within plots, and Royce’s true test awaits him at the edge of Imperial Space.
“ “I’m sorry, sir, your payment didn't go through.”
“There is a hold on your accounts, pending a Deadbeat Investigation.”
“I’m the Procurement Officer for the entire Kovan Fleet, woman!”
“Yes, sir, I recognized your uniform. But I’m afraid your job description has nothing to do with this conversation.”
“The hell it doesn't! What are my soldiers going to do if you don’t sell to us?”
“Respectfully, sir, that’s not my problem.”
“We’re in the middle of an invasion!”
“I’m very sorry to hear that. Perhaps your soldiers could target a facility that manufactures the toilet paper you need?”
--Transcript, Kovan Flagship: “Comms exchange between Fleet Procurement and Gaste Cartel Customer Service.”