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Imperium Aeternum

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Benedict

Entia

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It is almost midnight, but here at the heart of Aeternia the Arx is a hive of activity. On all the floors below me I can sense the hum of people coming and going. Drones collecting data, watching viewscreens, going about the business of the Imperium.

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I am secured in my quarters, alone until dawn. My lessons today concerned accounting and economy. And for once I was attentive. I was careful not to draw attention to my interest in the topic, for I know how my father reviews the classroom tapes, looking for signs. Signs of what, I am unsure, but signs I am unwilling to give him. Today I learned something of value. I am well aware that the Imperium is five trillion in debt, there is not one Imperial, citizen or drone who does not know it. Our client states know it.Our enemies know it. The thing I learned today is that the debt of the Imperial enterprise exceeds the value of its companies. This is a fact that could bring the Imperium to its knees. I am not sure if even my father is aware of this fact.

All the lumber, vehicles, minerals, food, products, luxuries. All the military apparatus. All services, power grids, construction, maintenance, schools, hospitals. All ticking along, somehow running on credit larger than the Imperium's, larger than our three client states’. Twice as large as its value.

Every last person in world is familiar with the shining star of our business conglomerate, Entia. Very few know how close it is to falling. And now I am one of the few.

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Benedict

The Arx Imperium

The Arx Imperium.

My home.

My prison.

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I do not understand my father.

He holds me here in solitude aside from a few retainers and tutors. I have no friends. My teachers and servants are fastidious in their wariness of anything that could be construed as friendship. I have learned to treat them as being far beneath me, not worthy of an ounce of my emotion. For this they are grateful.

They teach me warfare, economy, finance, ethnology, geography, history, politics, astronomy, poetry, religion. It is clear from my studies that my father is set on a destructive path.

The treasury is exhausted after a decade of reckless conquest. Investment in vital industries is spurned. We live on extension after extension of credit. Our client states fail to pay tribute year upon year. The inability of the army to force the barbarians of Gosember into submission is never spoken of. The repercussions, however, are felt acutely here in the heart of the capital. I see it in the furtive glances of staff as they check the skyline from these upper floors. I feel it in their cowed attitude as they complete their tasks. I see it in the tightness of my father’s face, words and actions.

I feel it in the question I ask myself every evening as darkness approaches and I watch my teacher for the day scurry to his quarters before curfew: what sort of Empire is it that I will inherit?

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