The Galactic Empire had existed- well, forever. "As it was in the Beginning, so and shall it ever be...", or at least it seemed that way in the eyes of the people. The relationship of the Empire to the people could be described as gears in a clock; constantly hidden, integral to the design, and though not in plain sight, its purpose and utter beneficence were never, ever questioned.
It's probable the people knew they were living in a dictatorship of sorts. There were no elections- not for the governmental positions that counted, anyway. There was an Emperor, a Court, and various Ministers of this and that. Those Ministers that were expendable to the Empire were used as poster boys of sorts, and were skilled at giving enigmatic answers to inquiries about dealings which the Ministers really knew nothing about. These Ministers gave the people something to look at and reassure themselves that, yes, there still was a government in power and they were not abandoned. And, when mistakes were made, there was something for the people to blame- but mistakes happened rarely.
Those of significance to the Empire? They were swathed in secrecy, mystery, isolation. From behind a curtain of solitude, they ran things. And they ran them smoothly. And though the people knew not who their leaders were, and doubtless some suspected those portrayed as officials were in actuality not, nobody really cared. For the Empire had existed as long as anyone could remember, giving its citizens a comfortable, sure existence. Its ability to remain in control and working smoothly as the gears of a well-oiled clock was never doubted, and provided some semblance of security in the midst of a dark and empty universe.
And the gears of the clock turned, and kept on spinning, easily and without ceasing.
Jasmine was brilliant. Though she was only 21, she had managed to receive her Medical Degree and was legally allowed to- well, do whatever necessary to keep people alive. She pressed a small button on her Smartplastic bracelet, and instantly, a 3-dimensional, full color hologram of herself appeared before her eyes. She surveyed her appearance thoughtfully. Loose, long blonde hair, pale, almost translucent skin unmarred by even a freckle, and catlike green eyes offset by perfectly arched brows completed the picture. Her petite figure was obvious and displayed by a cleanly cut white dress, fashionable yet professional. She softly pressed the button again, and the display vanished. A small tear trickled down one smooth cheek. Jasmine angrily wiped it away, and focused on regaining her composure. Slowly, the walls she'd had so much practice building over the last few months appeared, and she took a deep breath. She needed to forget, she had to forget, this was her only defense against utter despair.
Jonathin glanced around him, staring at the only company he'd have for the next eight years. Jonathin was tall, about 6'1", swarthy, and very good looking. His startling crystal blue eyes had destroyed more than one female heart. He had no trouble picking up dates, but he couldn't seem to keep a relationship going for more than a year; Jonathin tended to hurt people simply by being himself. At the moment, though, none of this seemed to bother him. Scanning the crowd, he briefly caught the hazel gaze of a cute redhead, who, noticing his gaze, suddenly flashed a bright smile in his direction. She then turned slightly and wrapped an arm around the muscled, blond hunk standing next to her. Jonathin smiled ruefully to himself.
'Hey', he told his cynical side, 'on a ship transporting 1,000 of the Empire's brightest young minds- well, there'd be other redheads.'
Stooping to pick up his bags, he silently got in line.
Rayena tapped her foot rather impatiently. A playful breeze blew some of her loose hair into her face. She was in the process of tucking a strand of coppery curls behind her ear when she felt a man's eyes on her. Turning in the direction of her sixth sense, she saw a tall dark stranger who grinned in a self-assured manner.
My, but he was handsome! she thought breathlessly.
Well- but it wouldn't do for her reputation if she were to appear easy. Rayena always played hard to get. Moving towards the man on her right, she slipped her arm about his waist, and in a seductive whisper, inquired as to his name and occupation. The man, startled until he saw that his new acquaintance was exceptionally pretty, happily supplied the information. He was a little puzzled when, a minute later, his redhead sweetly cut him off mid-sentence and moved in with the rest of the crowd. Rayena smiled to herself as she thought of the dark stranger. If there were many more like him- what a pleasant eight years this was shaping up to be!
Xavier sighed and ran his fingers through his mass of dark, wild hair. His ebony skin stretched over taut muscles, which were the products of a laborious life on Venus. His step-brother, older than him by eleven years, had worked for the Venusian Penal Colony- a colony the likes of which most of the Galactic citizens had never even heard of. Except, of course, those lucky enough to reside there. Xavier scanned the crowd and locked eyes with Jonathin. This was so dangerous, but at least they, out of this sea of people, knew each other. Best friends for the rest of their- possibly very short- lives.
Far away on a distant moon, a man screamed in pain echoing across the barren, rocky landscape as purple robed figures looked on, their faces masked.