The Galra Empire had been running just fine for the past nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine years. Quintessence was in good supply, numerous rebellions had been crushed and life couldn’t be sweeter for the mighty Emperor Zarkon. But he did not seem to taste it, and stared mournfully out the front window of his enormous battle cruiser. A lounge had been built here for this exact purpose – indulging Zarkon’s desire to view the vast expanse of his territory dotted with innumerable twinkling stars. A galaxy here, a planet there… It didn’t matter to him. He owned it all, had control of it all… and yet his shoulders bore the weight of obvious stress.
Hagar could tell something was amiss, perched on a floating ottoman that hovered just meters from where Zarkon stood. She had her arms and legs tucked beneath her body, dark purple cloak shaping her form into something of a lump with glowing yellow eyes and thin, stringy hair. Zarkon sighed, allowing himself a dramatic flop onto the nearby chaise. It was a beautiful thing, sleek silver metal with lilac padding and plump violet cushions… and many, many claw marks along the side. Sharp scratching could be heard as Zarkon dragged his nails over the seat, where he’d already dug rivets in the metal over the past few centuries.
Hagar raised her head, narrowing her eyes. Light above, that sound was annoying. Scritch-scritch-scritch. It made her want to fold up and die.
Zarkon turned, as did Hagar (who moved only her eyes) to see Sendak striding into the lounge, his loyal Lieutenant Haxus at his heels.
“I regret to inform you that Commander Thace has gotten into the tea again.”
Zarkon’s ears twitched, and he rolled his eyes so far back into his head that it actually hurt. “Oh, stars above. His status?”
“Making a fool of himself in the kitchens, Sir.” Haxus chirped, looking all too pleased with himself. Zarkon didn’t particularly appreciate the lesser Galra addressing him directly, and stiffened his posture. Hagar narrowed her eyes and peered over the edge of her perch, catching the attention of both Sendak and Haxus who stared right back at her. Together, they were a formidable pair both in battle and banter. Hagar wasn’t in the mood for either of them, so she bared her teeth and swiftly directed her attention to a spot on the wall, where a small dot had taken up residence. A red one. And it glowed.
By the door, Morvok snickered quietly and piloted his laser drone further into the room. It cast a lone dot just out of Hagar’s reach, and while she knew she could get it if she tried, she didn’t want to give in to her most basic instincts with people in the room. Zarkon used to make fun of her for being so weak to temptation, but she’d dished it right back at him by placing an extremely seductive box in his line of sight. Woe betide that the enemies of the Galra ever found that out. Zarkon would be shamed into hiding for weeks.
“Why, exactly, are you informing me?” Zarkon drew Sendak’s attention away from the dot, glad that his right hand man had the discipline to look him in the eyes when a laser was present. The things were banned around High Command, but someone hadn’t gotten the memo. Or they just didn’t care. Zarkon did quite like the stimulation that came from tracking fast moving objects, but knew how frustrating it was to never catch them. Not all Galra could steal the quintessence of an object and absorb it into their hands, after all. And Zarkon was a good Emperor who cared for his people.
Sendak lowered his big fluffy ears and closed his mechanical hand into a fist. “You see, my Lord… He is… ahem… slinky.”
Zarkon blinked. “Slinky?”
“Liquid, he… resists all attempts at removal and has puddled himself on the stove.”
“Turn it on, then.” Zarkon growled. “Stop bothering me with such trivialities.”
“Oh, I’m sure you have much important moping to get to, Sire.” Haxus drawled. “But you are the only one with the strength and willpower to move our most precious Thace. Won’t you please assist us, Emperor?”
Zarkon’s left eye twitched. Haxus had been overstepping his position much more often as of late, and he could guess why. Heat season was just around the corner and Haxus was an Alpha, just like Zarkon. It was only natural that they would butt heads at this time, rank and consequence be damned. Sendak however was a Beta, more inclined to keep a level head and calmly diffuse deadly arguments before they began.
“Please excuse us.” Sendak dipped his head respectfully, hand to chest in salute. Zarkon simply snorted and made his way towards the door, cape fluttering behind him.
“I’ll take care of it.” The Emperor flexed his fingers, claws out. “Wait here.” He reached the door and spotted Morvok at once, shaking his head at the sheepish little Commander. A sudden thump had him turn around and spot Hagar in a crumpled pile on the floor, one red dot plastered to her forehead. Zarkon sighed for the fifth time that hour. He needed a break.
In the kitchen, several Galra were huddled around the stove, hands extended for warmth despite the fact that they could warm up just about anywhere. Here, they had both heat and entertainment in the form of Thace lolling about on the stovetop, eyes unfocussed and ears limp. A dopey smile graced his fuzzy little face and both of his long arms were drawn up close to his chest, hands occupied with a ball of steel wool. He didn’t even care that his fingers were chapped from playing with it. It was fun.
“Thace!” Zarkon snapped, and all the observing Galra jumped up with hackles raised, eyes wide. They skittered out of the kitchen as Zarkon towered over Thace, reaching out to disturb him. He placed a hand on the Commander’s bare, fluffy chest and waited. Thace’s eyes slowly locked onto him, that stupid smile breaking into a white-fanged grin.
Zarkon grit his teeth. “Have you no dignity?” He’d had more than enough of Thace’s shenanigans – the bastard was always getting into his calming tea supplies at this time of year and it happened every single decaphoeb. Zarkon needed that shit to keep his impulses under control, for as old and intimidating as he looked, he was still Galra. He still wanted to claw Haxus’s eyes out every time the dude looked at him for too long. And oh, how he ached to fit himself in that nice new crate that had arrived last week, now empty of its volatile contents. Zarkon had been thinking about it for days, yet too many patrols passed its location in the supply warehouse and ordering people away would be suspicious and a waste of time. He snapped out of his reverie and found Thace mewling softly at him, hands still drawn close to his chest like a kit demanding attention.
“I’ll get you off there.” Zarkon muttered. “Ech. Look at you, you’re getting hair all over the stovetop.” Only the oven was on, but its heat radiated up and out most pleasantly. Thace looked like he was melting, so lanky and relaxed that he seemed almost Boneless. Zarkon absently petted his chest, before scraping his fingernails down the Commander’s stomach.
Now he was in for it.
Thace convulsed, opening his mouth as wide as it could go and aiming one fierce bite right in the middle of Zarkon’s hand. Due to his long body and lack of coordination, he whacked his head right on the stove’s ventilation unit and knocked himself out cold. A paragon of Galra supremacy, indeed. Why Zarkon trusted this one with covert military operations, he couldn’t remember. But he picked up Thace nonetheless, turned the stove off and walked back into the lounge where he set the poor lad down on a couch.
Haxus turned his head from his seat behind a shirtless Sendak, chirping merrily. “Ah, the Long Boy has returned!”
“Shut up.” Zarkon growled, making his way over to where he could see two gleaming eyes watching him from under a wide black sofa. He squatted, noting the eyes not move an inch except to track his motions. “Hagar, get out from under there.”
Hagar, thoroughly ashamed of herself, hissed. There was no way she was letting anyone see her now, not until Sendak and Haxus had left and were unable to judge her for giving in her laser-centric desires. Zarkon stuck his hand under the couch, hearing Hagar skitter away and out of his reach.
“Rrgh. Fine.” Today was turning out to be one shit day, and Zarkon felt the pull of that crate call him once more. He could just imagine its cool sides closed around his lean form, which would undoubtedly fit like it always did when he needed a good, soothing sit. He stood up and stretched, side-eyeing Sendak who had his eye closed and was purring quite loudly. Haxus sat behind him with a brush, gently grooming him as best he could without using his tongue. Zarkon wondered what was going on with those two, and remembered a moment later that he fully well knew – he just didn’t like it.
‘None of my business.’ he told himself, swiftly exiting the room and nearly tripping over Morvok, who had loafed himself right in front of the door.
“Oh, get in.” Zarkon gave the little Commander a swift kick, and Morvok rolled into the lounge with his eyes wide and watery from being booted like a sack of dirt. So too did he blush for a tick – Zarkon, who he adored, had actually paid attention to him for once. NICE.
Everyone got out of the Emperor’s way once they saw him coming, and it was through his mad intimidation skillz that Zarkon had the supply warehouse all to himself. This was where all the spare crates were stored, and Zarkon found his crate of choice soon after entering the room. He shut the door behind him and scanned for biorhythms – not a living soul accompanied him in here.
Ever so carefully, Zarkon dipped one toe into the crate and made sure he could bend his knees without his long limbs getting caught on the sides. His cape draped over the top of the crate as he settled in, keeping him hidden from any intrusive eyes. Of course, the whole Empire could recognize him by his cloak alone. Not that they would dare interrupt him here. Folding up his arms and then hands, Zarkon tilted his neck so that his chin rested on the edge of the crate. Then he felt it. The perfect sit.
‘Oh… yes.’ A deep, rumbling purr started up in his chest, and Zarkon’s eyes slid shut as utter relaxation washed over him. He fit. And all was right once more.