The Intellicator

Dolorez sat by the viewport, breathing deeply, and sighing with every exhale.

The prince had called her to counsel several hours ago, expecting her to set him in the right direction. That was, after all, her primary function as intellicator: to advise, steer, and guide her royal charge to his righteous victory. The problem was not in the execution of her duty. No, she had done everything she could do to nudge the young prince away from his suicidal tactics and stratagems. The problem now was that it was far too late for any of the advice that Dolorez could offer to have any effect at all on the future of the empire.

“Faith, intellicator.” The prince stood with his hands clasped behind his back and legs splayed, his body fully occluded by bright light glinting in through his chamber’s massive viewport. “A clear understanding of manifest destiny.” His silhouette was tall and broad-shouldered, and a wild mane of hair framed his head. “Bread and circuses.” He laughed, and Dolorez heard the resounding death-knell from the depths of his insanity.

Ornaments taken from a dozen conquests decorated the command chamber. Weaponry from the Tiarun colonies, tribal raiment from the plains of Ahz-dorah, and shining baubles wrought of precious metals and gems claimed from the beds and burial chambers of the vanquished. The prince’s boot-heels clapped the stone floor as he circled around his wide terminal and stood before Dolorez. “You think I’ve gone too far,” he said. It was a flat statement, and the words penetrated the air between them, boring into her skull like the swirling pinpoints of light that danced in the prince’s crimson-red eyes. “My dear, I’ve only yet begun. Do you know the story of Alexander? The Macedonian?”

“I know it, my lord.” She held his gaze, despite the sinking flush in the pit of her stomach.

“Of course you do. Do you think history will remember me with the same grand majesty? Centuries upon centuries after my glory, will they still utter my name in awe?”

“Yes, my lord.” Dolorez spoke with confidence, for she knew well the prince’s projected destiny. The impending destruction of his fleet at the hands of Defan Zedach, followed by the lines of history that unreeled madly out and away from that event, one of them terminating at a young student standing up in a lecture in some far-distant future and asking how someone with so much power and so many resources at his disposal could have made so many stupendous mistakes.

“Wonderful.” He clapped his hands in her face and she did not flinch, for she had known he would do it. “Most wonderful.”

An intellicator was bound by strict rules. As they could, in essence, see the future, they were forbidden to offer their opinions unless expressly asked. In the beginning of Dolorez’s relationship with the prince he had queried her often and at length, mining her for the future outcomes of his decisions. Yet as his power had grown, and his successes continued, he had asked for her with ever-decreasing frequency. He had become an egomaniacal psychopath. The man had tasted blood and had found no authority greater than his own, no peer to keep him in check. He had become the all-powerful hand of his own law and answered to no one. Dolorez, in turn, had become little more than furniture, a vestigial organ of the court. She was no more valuable to the prince now than any of the other relics that he had mounted in his command room.

How she had silently begged him to ask her, as he once had, how things would go. How she had screamed, soundless from the confines of her mind, for him to pose a question that would sober him out of his bloodlust. Thinking of her impotence made Dolorez sad, and so she spent her time by her quarter’s meagre viewport, gazing long and deep into the emptiness of the vacuum outside. There her breath formed small clouds that turned into thin films of frost as they burst upon the icy surface of the window glass.

She idly wondered, and not for the first time, how a death in the cold black of space must feel. The pilots rescued before complete decompression told horror stories of unimaginable pain as the crushing pressures burst organs and crumbled bones. Vaporization at the hands of an enemy would be better than a fate like that, she thought. She shook herself, shocked that her mind would take her down such a dark alleyway. Was it portent, some subconscious awareness of the inevitable consequences of the prince’s decisions?

2014.12.20 – 2023.07.22

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