Art by Shuri
When the Karaithan supervolcano threatened to become active, the populace of the Empire of Smilidons was evacuated. Shortly thereafter the undersea supervolcano erupted, virtually obliterating the last vestiges of the once-massive Empire.
A generation later, the people of Earth started to reach into space. The first large-scale colony—Colony #7—was populated by the Smilodonians, who were still without a place to call home. Amongst the reasons were:
The original government of Colony #7 was much like that of the United States, with the sole exception of a monarch, who would hold a purely
cultural role. The Colonial Council, which designed the colonies' governments, however, failed to take a few things into account.
The result was Zaykar as absolute monarch of the resurrected Empire of Smilodons, now ruling over the moons of a gas giant and virtually owning the interstellar network of artifical wormholes.
Here he is at the height of his power with his three wives. At this time, Zaykar is in his 20s. He has done his best to turn Colony #7 into a copy of the Empire as it was back on Earth, with the fighting culture (illegal under the old government), libraries that stock Smilodonian literature in the original language, military training that is mandatory for all males and encouraged for females, Smilodonian theatre and cinema, and so on.
He's had a good amount of success, thanks to his allies in the Imperial Court. Certainly, he enjoys some personal perks more than his ancestors did—in particular, a law that allows him to have a one-night stand with any willing subject (yes, three wives, several concubines, and he's still notorious for sleeping around).
To his right (with her paw on his shoulder) is Rhanaarrh, the Head Wife. Old enough to be his mother, wise enough to be his top councillor and (it is joked) strong-willed enough to be his husband, she rules his harem almost completely. It is she who manages Zaykar's trysts—or cuts him off if she thinks he hasn't been spending enough time with his wives.
To Zaykar's left and holding a sword is that
almost. Anrha is the best fighter and the most aggressive of his wives, which leads to much friction with her elder wifesister. She refuses to be intimidated by Rhanaarrh, which leads either to the two being at each other's throats, or being a terrifying team when plotting together (the most notable example being engineering Zaykar's rise to supremacy).
Laying on the floor before Zaykar is Ranrrha. She is the only one of Zaykar's wives to be younger than the Emperor himself, and tries to keep some peace in the harem by being someone her wifesisters can dominate. It's joked she sleeps with Rhranaarrh and Anrha more than she does with her own husband (not that Zaykar minds. He gets to watch).
And yes—they DO dress like this in formal court; Zaykar doesn't need loads of fancy clothing to show off his power—instead, he shows off his body and, through doing so, makes the unspoken threat of what he personally do to those that make themselves unwelcome. The only real symbol of power he wears is his pendant: a copy of the Obsidian Flame, an ancient medallion as old as the Empire itself. Zaykar only wore the real thing when he was confirmed Chief of the PrideChiefs of the Smilodons. As Emperors are expected to have crowns, he wears a gold circlet. As for his scepter, as gaudily jewelled as it is, it HAS been used as a weapon before, to deadly effect.
Zaykar's run as absolute monarch would last only a few years, though. Many of his subjects pointed out that there were virtually no weapon control laws in the Empire of Smilodons, and insisted on being allowed to influence government through elections. With the not-so-subtle threat of force being used, Zaykar consented and reformed how the government was run.
Furthermore, a drive to set up wormhole networks NOT controlled by the empire shifted into high gear.
Eventually, the Empire was reduced to
merely running the biggest wormhole network and the 3 largest transport companies. Nor was Zaykar himself reduced to a figurehead. Instead, he was still a true monarch: he ended up with powers similar to the US President (though broader in some areas), with the added perk of not having to lie about trysts with interns.
Now, he rules over what is truly the resurrected Empire of Smilodons, and that nation—and Zaykar himself—remain a force to be reckoned with.
This is a pic by Shuri showing a scene of a possible continuity in the Basalt City Chronicles, occuring decades after where my story is currently (stalled). Apparently, this was his first-ever commission.
Bit of a note here: No, you cannot see tails. Smilodons had very stumpy tales, so they'd be hard to see—certainly, stumpy tails and unusually long tusks are a hallmark of the Naral Tribe.
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