(Planet Cthelen- Hive City)

(Subsection Delta Quadrant- Private Residences)

The first day of the succession ceremony had ended. It was a day filled with blood, despair, broken dreams, and shattered bodies.

Cleo sat down quietly in the corner of the main bedroom and looked out of the window. The clear night sky contrasted with her low mood.

Sophie was currently training in one of the holosuite decks nearby and had offered for her to join but Cleo wanted to be alone.

The princess reached into her storage bag and pulled out several bottles of wine that she had been saving up for a special occasion.

Except she was not going to drink to celebrate.

Cleo rarely drank alcohol since unlike her girlfriend, her body did not automatically break down toxins so she could still get drunk on the stronger stuff.

Her usually vibrant green eyes were filled with a haze of sadness. Cleo unscrewed the top of the first bottle and poured its contents down her throat.

The liquid burned as it slid down her throat which for just the slightest moment numbed the pain that she felt in her heart.

The princess took another sip and then another until rows of empty bottles were messily placed on the table in front of her.

Her mind constantly drifted to what she saw today, and unwanted memories surfaced without her consent.

She remembered seeing her half sisters and brothers… the people who she had competed with her entire life being butchered in various ways.

Beheaded by swords, shot with plasma rounds, torn apart by combat beasts…

There was no mercy in the arena.

The competitive spirit between the offsprings of the Imperial Family had finally boiled over into hatred.

Each person was prepared to kill their opponents in order to be crowned as the next ruler of the human side of the Federation.

The bottle in Cleo's palm trembled slightly as she took in a few deep breaths and tried to steady her breathing.

Why did she feel this way?

Growing up in the Imperial Palace Complex meant that she had seen and experienced her fair share of the intrigue, bullying and vicious attacks between members of the royal family.

She had never gotten along with any of her siblings and the positive interactions that she had with some of them could be counted on one hand.

And yet…

She felt bitter as she watched them die.

No matter how much she drank, she could not escape the sickly cloying feeling in her heart that made her want to throw up.

In the back of her mind there was a voice that whispered softly. There was a question on her mind that haunted her.

If she had been stronger and had joined the succession ceremony… would she have behaved in the same way?

Would she have killed her siblings in her quest for power?

Cleo didn't know the answer to that question. No… she was afraid to find out the answer to that question.

What if she was no better?

For most of her life she had been told by her mother that she would one day become the next ruler of the Imperial Family.

Even though she had escaped her mother's grasp, it was difficult to get rid of her influence and the ambition that secretly burned in her heart.

The princess scowled heavily as she picked up another bottle and took a large sip of the burning liquid.

There was a warm tingling feeling spreading around her body and it made her feel good. She could feel her thoughts begin to slow down with every passing minute.

She needed to get out of here and take a walk.

The walls were closing in and the large bedroom suddenly appeared stuffy and too small. Cleo shakily put on her slippers and glanced in the mirror at her reflection.

She was wearing a simple black jacket and a pair of running shorts. A good enough covering for her body.

Cleo staggered over to the door and pressed the release button with trembling fingertips. She walked outside with a slight sway in her steps.

The princess wandered through the long and winding corridor and would occasionally stop to look at the portraits on the wall.

The paintings displayed the faces of the previous rulers of the Imperial Family, and they looked down at the drunk princess with expressions of disapproval.

"Bastards… the whole lot of you…" Cleo's words slurred as she walked over to one of the paintings.

Each portrait looked identical.

A self- righteous prick dressed up in fancy clothes trying to show the universe why they were so important.

Cleo scoffed and walked away from the paintings but not before giving them the middle finger.

She continued on her journey and took a few turns until she arrived at the entrance to the floating sky gardens just outside the building.

These gardens were shared by all the nobles staying in the various wings of the skyscraper but right now they were empty.

Well, that wasn't surprising considering that it was the middle of the night and there were plenty sources of entertainment inside the apartments to keep the nobles occupied.

Pleasure slaves being perhaps the most popular.

A disgusting practice.

No… this whole place was disgusting.

Genetically modified humans bred for obedience and servitude that would live their lives slaving away in this mechanical planet.

Generations that had been bred just to serve their masters. No free will… just mere puppets dancing to the tunes of the instructions implanted in their genetic code.

Cleo stumbled over to a nearby bench and sat down. A cold breeze brushed against her cheek, and she pulled her jacket tighter around her body.

There was a brief moment of peacefulness as Cleo looked up at the stars in the night sky and for the first time her bad mood felt a little bit better.

Being outside helped her to slightly sober up and she could feel her body slowly begin to recover.

She may not have Sophie's regenerative and detoxification abilities, but she was a qi tide cultivator so being drunk would not last for long.

Suddenly Cleo heard the sounds of footsteps coming from the distance.

She turned in the direction of the sound and saw a group of finely dressed men and women walking towards her while giggling and laughing amongst themselves.

"Did you see how Princess Juliana screamed like a bitch? Oh, my goodness that was funny as fuck! Haha! I nearly choked on my drink."

"I'm telling you… you missed out on the fight in the pit I was assigned to. One of the princes begged for his life before a sword chopped up his body piece by piece."

"Those spoilt royal brats… they never stood a chance. It's a shame really…"

"Oh please! They got what they deserved!"

The mocking laughter coming from the group echoed in Cleo's ears and for a moment she lost her sense of sanity.

All she could hear was the laughter.

"How dare you… HOW DARE YOU!" Cleo muttered angrily as she curled up her fingers into a tight fist with so much force that her fingernails pierced the underside of her palms.

Cleo furrowed her brows and waited until the group came closer. She prepared a sharp burst of mental energy to shock the laughing nobles unconscious.

Mental Spike- Field of Terror!

Cleo unleashed her attack but to her surprise nothing happened.

The mental energy that was stored up in her mind simply vanished as if it had never been there.

Then a deep masculine voice spoke in her mind with a presence that was so overwhelming that Cleo nearly collapsed on the bench.

[No outside fighting is allowed during the succession ceremony]

[This is your first and only warning.]