Chapter 16:

The History of the Loeric Empire

[NO LONGER UPDATING] Ceres's Chaos: A Tragic Space Opera

The museum tour so far was the exactly the same boring drivel, going through various boring historical events.

Ceres already lost interest right after the first Emperor's life history, moving on to the next exhibit which showed an organizational structure of how the Loeric Empire operates, which also hardly interested him.

While Ceres had a pretty good memory that was halfway to photographic levels, he could not be bother to commit his precious memory space in his head to memorizing the insanely complicated governance structure that the Emperor implemented to prevent any single person from taking over apart from the way he wanted them to, nor did he care about the other states in the Sector.

It wasn’t important to him right now, not for the competition. He didn’t need to know how succession worked nor what state was around him. He highly doubts he would ever get to travel to these states, much less beyond the Loeric Empire.

And why would he even be interested about who was in power when he was just trying to live a normal life on Athen?

In essence, the Emperor ruled from Loeric, of the Loeric System. “Why do they even feel the need to say this kind of stuff, It’s pretty obvious right?” Erik shook his head in resignation.

He also directly controlled three other systems, but they were generally maintained by the Dynasty of Loeric, which was made up of failed successors who didn’t make it into the Emperor's throne but still managed to survive the succession race.

The remaining habitable star systems were split between four major Dynasties, with Hawthorn controlling the Strathon System that Ceres was in right now, on the third planet Athen.

Each individual planet within the system is ruled directly by separate representatives of the Dynasties, which generally places the ultimate responsibility on a single individual. The entire system and each planet are then ruled directly by a board appointed by the Dynasty.

In the case of many colonies in the Loeric Empire like Athen, the appointed board then oversaw a Consortium of colonist groups and corporations to mitigate differences between competing interests.

To this effect, the Dynasty of Hawthorn has appointed a single scion, “Cardenia Hawthorn” to be the ‘owner’ of the planet and effectively the leader of the consortium.

All disputes and arrangements had to go through her – otherwise, the numerous small towns and outposts trying to make it big or make a name for themselves were largely independent.

New Saint was not the ‘capital’ of the planet despite being the largest city, so their city administration and police force did not have jurisdiction beyond New Saint.

This meant that the Dynasty of Hawthorn’s private forces took over control of the ‘rural areas’ – underground towns, small outposts and family-owned mining businesses. Currently, New Saint entities like the Five Families hold the most bargaining weight in the Consortium, but the planet has yet to reach a point of consolidation yet.

Even if they were consolidated to form a single political entity, they still had to answer to the Dynasty of Hawthorn otherwise. And after them would be Strathon – the main planet of the Strathon System!

There were finer details as to how one could replace the ownership of the system, and details on the succession race and major events by the imperial princes and princesses were on display throughout the museum but Ceres skimmed through all of them briefly, learning just enough so he could write a barebone report and reflection to submit at the end of it.

Those were only the habitable star systems. There were countless of other lifeless ones under the Loeric Empire that had space habitats or gas giant refineries, which could hold upwards of a dozen million people each.

It was hard to get a good grasp on the exact population of citizens in the Loeric Empire, as numerous deep space habitats drifted in isolation, lauded by both religious cult and mediation fanatics to be the best retreats, or crime lords and lucrative casinos to evade the prying eyes of the law.

Other important information included how the Loeric Empire was ranked as a state. The Council that was made up of humanity’s best classified states according to both resources and technological capability.

The ranking went from S-class being the highest, all the way to E being the lowest! The Loeric Empire was ranked as a D-class state, but it was the average for many other neighbouring countries too.

Ceres too didn’t care about how the Loeric Empire fared against other countries. He already had a hard enough time trying to climb the social ladder here in Athen!

One notable country he read about was the Chenum Republic, a D-class state who operates on the notion of democracy and freedom, which the Loeric Empire had a war with every 25 to 30 years. This was one of the more important bits that made Ceres interested.

The last war happened quite some time before Ceres arrived here on Athen, so Ceres took note that he may very well be involved in this war, especially if he wins the competition and entered the Dest Legion!

However, the next section definitely caught the attention of the group of orphans. “Today, we have something exciting for all of you, the museum has managed to procure a few slovesa specimens for your viewing!”

A loud wave of murmurs travelled through the group of orphans, who had heard much about the alien race called slovesa! Ceres had never seen one before, so his interest was definitely restored.

Many of the orphans had spent countless hours playing board games where they will cooperate to defeat the slovesas, so they held a natural interest in it!

The slovesa were sentient lithoids, essentially moving rocks that somehow developed a consciousness.

Their form varied as they adapted to the environment, either amassing enough metal to become a veritable walking giant, or a quadrupedal clump of rock that moved swiftly.

The shape of their body were not uniform at all, with stronger slovesa being able to change form or shape during battle to better suit their needs.

They were the main target of the Loeric’s Empire expansion!

Slovesa-controlled territory were composed of alien worlds that already had a generous deposit of raw exotics and metals, making them lucrative targets to control.

The museum did not mention that the deposits were usually the graveyard of the slovesa’s ancestors, hence the concentration of exotics.

It also fuelled the war seeing that the slovesa generally raided human-controlled space for resources and technology, sometimes even taking human slaves for unknown reasons. This brought the animosity between the humans and the slovesa to an all-time high.

Right now, the Loeric Empire was the only human nation fighting them, while the rest of the star sector did not care or found it too cost-prohibitive to do so.

The tour guide brought them to a glass viewing chamber, where a single pile of rocks was shaped in a humanoid form, except it had no head. It’s surrounding were made up of grey and brown rocks that looked like the surface of a rocky moon, creating a ‘fake’ environment in which the slovesa might live.

The ‘brain’ or consciousness of the slovesa was stored in the very center of its upper body like a core of sorts, while it sat completely still, unmoving despite the group of orphans shouting excitedly.

“This is my first time seeing them this close! It doesn’t look scary at all!” Braton remarked, wondering about when he would be able to fight such aliens in the future barehanded.

Suddenly, as though in response to Braton’s comment, the slovesa quickly formed another limb from the surrounding gravel and launched a physical strike towards the glass! Erik flinched but noticed that it was immediately repelled by an energy shield covering the glass.

The energy shield was only visible upon impact, creating a blue shimmer that rippled after the impact before turning invisible again.

The slovesa stood up on three legs and his upper body faced the group of orphans directly. The energy shield that was previously invisible suddenly glowed with beautiful colors of green, blue and pink.

While the orphans gasped in shock at the colours, the tour guide continued on as though it was the standard procedure of a circus show.

“This is the slovesa’s way of communication, by using electromagnetic radiation. Their core’s consciousness and communication method is inherently radioactive though not to the point of human death. They form a layer of exotic metal to control the output of radiation – this in turn becomes the source of their energy and speech. What you see on the energy shield is most likely a visualization of the swearing and cursing that the slovesa is trying to tell you.”

Ceres was amazed at how the internals of the slovesa functioned. How did such a lifeform even come about? But better yet, it was no surprise that slovesa bodies be highly valuable due to the amount of exotics or high concentration of material within them.

No wonder the Loeric Empire was so willing to engage in war with the slovesa - they were literally walking treasure troves!

The tour guide quickly brought them away as the tour group was not the only one in the museum. Countless other schools had also brought their students for a mass school trip, making the museum very busy.

Finally, the last stop was a small section on the Beyond, the frontier of civilized human space and the slovesa. Much of Athen’s criminal organizations originated from the Beyond, which was a source of continuous harassment for the Loeric Empire.

However, more resources were put into taking over the slovesa rather than the frontier planets and colonies in the Beyond. They were the frontier simply for one reason – the amount of resources were low or had a high cost of discovery!

Reaching the end of the museum's section way before the tour guide, he pulled out his multi and was just about to play his latest stage of Glucose Rush when he noticed a group of prim and proper students wearing a different sleek style of uniform walking past him, no doubt on another forced tour of the same section.

They looked exactly like your typical inner, lighter skin that showed they almost spent no time in the sun and that haughty attitude wherever they went.

Naturally Ceres was a bit biased as to how inners looked like, but he still envied their living standards subconsciously, especially after witnessing how well stocked Ardan’s practice room was.

Noticing the game Ceres was playing, one of the boys stopped in front of him, crossing his arms and looking condescendingly down at Ceres.

He had fiery eyes but a stereotypical male face that was so generic that it could probably match with 30% of the male population on the planet.

With light auburn hair and a threatening demeanour, he smirked at Ceres: “What’s up, outer? The museum too big for your brain?”

Ceres internally groaned, "Just when I said we can’t generalize all inners, here comes this guy,” he thought to himself as he ignored the boy who stood in front of him.

Only people from the inner zone would call people like Ceres ‘outers’ as though it was a derogatory term; the ‘outers’ were too busy working their asses off to care about this difference

Ceres focused on his multi, checking up the leaderboards of Glucose Rush, oblivious to the furious face of the boy that was slowly getting redder by the second.

The boy, Adrian Seras, was just bragging to his fellow students of Zone 4’s Imperial College that he was one of the better competition participants and that he could trash anybody in the exosuit repair category.

He was already slightly infuriated at the announcement that Chad Athen made previously and was made even more so by his classmates that remarked that he couldn't even beat an outer if he wanted to.

Looking for someone to vent off, Ceres became the unlucky participant in his quest to restore his pride and reputation.

The only problem was that his quest stopped there due to the continued ignoring of Ceres from his repeated taunts. His classmates sniggering at him, Adrian racked his brains as to what he can do to antagonize Ceres.

Noticing the game that Ceres was playing a new stage on the multi, Adrian suddenly perked up and proclaimed to Ceres: "Can't believe an outer actually knows how to play Glucose Rush! How long have you been playing it? You probably only play it once a week judging by how slow you're moving your hands. Did you know I'm rank 99 in that game planetwide? Hah, I bet you don’t even know what the ranking system is!"

Ceres, noticing that his hand speed was truly slower than compared to when he wasn’t getting insulted before. He suddenly realized that this would be a great training opportunity for his competition!

He previously was able to play the game while his friends talked around him in the bunk room, but he never tried it while an opponent was trying to antagonize him and distract him.

It was actually a possibility during the competition that his opponents would try to insult him!

Surprised at the random lucky chance, he started focusing more and more on the game while Adrian continuously attempted to infuriate Ceres. During the competition, exosuit repairers could taunt each other during the repair and modification stage – this was the perfect setup right here!

Ceres had found his new training routine!

After a while, the fellow classmates of Adrian couldn't hold back their laughter anymore, trampling on the pride of Adrian. "I'm a fucking Seras for god’s sake," Adrian thought to himself.

The Seras were one of the five major families that first colonized the planet of Athen, controlling the medical industry on the planet. Despite this, Adrian wasn’t good enough to enter the same school as Chad Athen: the Five Families College.

"I shouldn't be dealing with this dumb outer that just keeps ignoring me. Let me find another target" He was about to turn to vent on another target when Ceres suddenly grabbed his arm.

"Hold up, would you be interested in a game duel?" Ceres quizzed; his mind locked onto the training idea that he had.

Adrian immediately smacked his hand away, externally disgusted at the thought of being touched but secretly happy Ceres took the bait. "A duel? I'm rank 99, I would easily smash you. Yea sure, if you don't mind getting absolutely destroyed!"

"Sure sure, but I got one condition. If you don't keep it, I'm out of this game immediately"

"What's the condition?"

"You have to keep flaming me non-stop."

"...." Adrian suddenly felt a bit cold, wondering if he ran into an unexpected masochist. Yet, with the egging on of his classmates watching him from behind, he had no choice but to push ahead, or risk falling down the unspoken social ladder!

Pulling up his multi, he nodded and swiped a duel invite to Ceres, upon which they both sat down cross-legged facing each other and laid their multis on the ground, projecting a holographic game-board on the floor.

Glucose Rush involved the matching of various 1x1 symbols in a 60x60 grid. A simple match-3 if you will, but a mistake will deduct points. A time-based game which had random symbols replacing the combination that was previously removed.

In a duel, players had both their own grid and the opponents grid laid in front of them as well, albeit with one upside down as they were facing opposite each other.

Within the given time, the player with the most points wins. Earning points can be done only by tapping combinations on your side, tapping combinations on the opponent's side will not give you any points.

However, if a combination is tapped, it disappears, making the opponent lose the opportunity to earn any points.

This made the game a skill check on hand speed, hand-eye coordination and brain activity speed! The better player would be able to prevent the opponent from even getting a combination.

As the start timer counted down to 0, Adrian kept up the mocking as per requested: "You really think you're gonna win this duel. Let me show you the gap between inners and outers. We're the real citizens of Athen, not fucking lowlifes like you!" Adrian's eyes dashed between both his opponent's grid and his, flexing his fingers and cracking his hands. "I'm not going to go easy on you, I'm gonna make you get zero points!"

Adrian was about to continue, but the game had already started 2 seconds ago and Ceres already accumulated 20 points. Adrian gaped awkwardly at his own grid, seeing 5 empty combinations getting replaced by new random symbols.

He couldn't help but exclaim out loud in shock "What the fuck?"

"Hey, what are you doing? Keep up the flaming!"

"..." Adrian ignored the comment and focused on tapping his side. Just as he was about to tap his first combination, Ceres deftly used his left hand to tap that combination even before Adrian could get near.

"Don't stop flaming, otherwise I won't let you get a single point!"

Still shellshocked, Adrian silently tried to go for a few more combinations, but each and every single one of them was always tapped by Ceres a few milliseconds before Adrian's finger could reach it.

As denial and shock continued to rage in his mind, a large "Game Paused" sign appeared over his grid.

"Hey, you better start flaming or I'm gonna leave."

A single tear welling up in his eyes, Adrian continued brushing his repertoire of expletives and vulgarities that would've put a pirate starship captain to shame, noticing that for every phrase or sentence he completed, he would be allowed to tap one combination, earning a single point.

"This guy is an absolute madman, he likes this kind of abuse?" Adrian couldn't make out what was going out in Ceres's head. His fellow classmates couldn't even laugh at Adrian anymore, not after seeing Ceres' godlike performance. Was Adrian being fed points at this stage?!

As the duel went on, a sense of awe started to build amongst the inner students, who looked at Ceres in a new light and also started to feel bad for Adrian who was almost about to burst in tears.

Despite the obvious losing postion, Adrian's voice stammered as he stayed strong, continuing to berate every potential fictional life choice that Ceres had.

Some of the inners even secretly applauded Adrian for still being able to swear, knowing that if they were in the same position they would have forfeited anyway right at the start.

The duel ended after 3 minutes, which felt like an entire day to Adrian. The final score was 100-300, which was considerably an impressive achievement for Adrian as he managed to verbally insult Ceres a hundred times without breaking down!

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