In which the god-Emperor plots to steal his brother's fiancée
He was on the prowl for a new mate.
No one suspected. It was too soon after his last Empress's death. Everyone who knew anything about the Great Djinn god-Princes of Tigron would expect him to grieve for the rest of his natural life, because everyone assumed that he had had the rut-rage with his young Empress and had fixed his affections on her for ever.
Though he had every right to mate again—and there were two innocent reasons why he should replace Djustine-Saturna as soon as possible—the chattering fool peoples of all the Communicating Worlds would call his haste indecent in the extreme.
What did he care what aliens and lesser beings thought? His broad shoulders already bore the blame for his father's final atrocity. His friends and his enemies could not possibly think worse of him than they already did.
Consciences were for Commoners. He was the greatest of all the Great Djinn. He was the god-Emperor Djohn-Kronos. By All The Lechers of Antiquity, he had gods-Right to any virgin he wanted, and he hadn't had sex in a gestate.
He flung himself into the pilot's seat, snapped the canopy shut, and chopped his beringed right hand into the cradle.
"I'm Djohn-Kronos. Open the force field."
A hot, blindingly bright cross-hatching of light yawned ahead of him. He accelerated out of the apex at the top of the Palace's West Pyramid and enjoyed the sensation of being slammed back in his seat by Tigron's heavy G-forces.
His racing craft's sinister double shadow scudded over the rough flowering desert terrain below, startling large lizards, stampeding small herds of hardy ruminants. Moving fast and dangerously low, now his shadows skipped the ridge-backed mountain range and swooped over crater-worlds. Some craters were volcanic in origin. Some were ancient asteroid-impact. Some were both: crater-upon-crater.
Each crater was a distinct eco-system varying according to their depth, geology, whether or not they were spring-fed, and the overlaps of shadows thrown by the distant small white sun and by the nearer Primary planet—the Body Imperial. While not quite a second sun, it made the Royal Side of its moon up to six percent hotter than the Commoners' side of Tigron.
Unlike his twin brother who thought that Tigron was doomed to crash into its gas giant, Djohn-Kronos loved his home-world.
There! Below him shimmered the forbidden paradise of which all Djinn Princes dreamed. Created in more fertile times, the school for Djinn princesses had been built on an island which was surrounded by a shallow sea. Light blue, inviting, but dangerous was that sea. Tigron's most precious virgins were guarded by sea monsters.
Since a rut-enraged Prince would not be put off by monsters, the school for princesses was also protected by an overarching biodome to keep the fertile scent of the full-Djinn princesses from escaping and maddening the Great Djinn males with lust.
Damn and Deca-damn! A spurt of savage fury caused Djohn-Kronos to bank sharply and roll in the sky, like some great reptile displaying his power and prowess.
Secluding princesses at the school was not an infallible system for maintaining public decency and a civilized society. A girl had to be at the school to be safe. His good name and reputation had been ruined forever because some slack-damn sentimental royal widow whose name he was still, a gestate later, too angry to contemplate had home-schooled her pre-pubescent daughter until the damn girl wasn't pre-pubescent at all. Now Djustine-Saturna was dead.
Despite her young age, with care—and she had had the very best care--Djustine-Saturna might have survived a singleton pregnancy, but not twin males. Djinn males were always bigger.
There weren't many virgin princesses left at the school, but his imagination ran wild as he circled. Below him, veiled from his Djinn-sharp sight by the biodome and shimmering white force field were naked girls floating in black, gravity-warping murk pools, which allowed them to grow tall and willowy and high-breasted despite the cruel tug of Tigron's gravity.
One could recognize a princess of Tigron at a glance.
His next Empress was down there. Helispeta! The one precious girl who didn't seem to mind his monstrous reputation…perhaps she was one of the rare remaining Djinn who hadn't lost their legendary psychic powers.
Perhaps Helispeta knew how magnanimous he'd been, and how much he'd suffered in trying to do the right thing for the adoring child, Djustine-Saturna, whom he had befriended, but who had never been his sweetheart.
He circled, yearning to swoop down and seize his happiness by force, knowing that he couldn't. A deadly dangerous tyrant he might be, but he would never again risk his senses being ambushed by a girl who chanced to be in the rut-rageous time of her cycle. This time, he'd take a mate of legal breeding age. One of his own choosing.
And if she was the mate his damned father had chosen for his twin brother, so what? One might say that all unconsummated mating contracts had been voided upon the old Emperor's violent and richly-deserved death.
The problem, and the solution, was that the fragrant Helispeta was still promised to his identical twin brother. By law she was still a virgin. Therefore, by law he had every right, god's Right, to her. Nevertheless, things were better done Djinn-style, by stealth if possible and by force only if absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, to keep his heroic, too-adventurous twin out of the way, there could be no more convenient time to provoke an ancient enemy and reignite an old war.