The Italian Parliament building was packed. All of the near one thousand seats were occupied on the main floor of the chamber. The upper level, usually devoted to spectators was also taken up by men and women of great importance. Rather than the Italian parliament, the massive room was filled with world leaders from all over the planet.
Liakos could hear the cameras clicking as he, and eleven other men followed Zao through the main doors of the Parliament hall. The personal guard, which had grown to over eight hundred armed men in the last two days, had been instructed to stand in formation outside the building. Only Zao’s command council would follow him in, which was what had happened.
More than a thousand heads turned to look at Zao as he strode toward the focal point of the room. Tall arches lined with decorative wood gave the great hall an austere feel. There was a world’s worth of atmosphere between them and the high ceiling. An enormous chandler hung from it’s painted surface, cascading down warm illumination. Liakos kept his eyes straight ahead as he followed Zao’s confident gait. He didn’t much like being stared at, especially considering that those staring were the most powerful people on the planet.
There was no applause at Zao’s slow processional toward the center of the chamber. In fact, the air felt thick with tension. Zao had convinced the people he had touched with his miracles, if he could call them that. Liakos was still wrestling with the word. These dignitaries, however, remained unconvinced. Liakos knew that even the eight hundred men standing outside with guns, could not protect them if the world’s militaries turned their attention on Zao.
They passed by a large bank of news cameras huddled into a tight wad near the curved front of the chamber. Liakos, along with the rest of Zao’s council took the front twelve seats of the gallery. He was glad that they had been reserved, because it was standing room only in the rest of the building. Zao ascended the steps leading to the top of the pedestal. He stood tall and looked around the entire room from where the speaker normally stood. He was not in a hurry, even though the world’s eyes were on him.
“My dear children.” The room filled with a light murmur of translators whispering to their respective dignitaries. Liakos cringed, knowing that even the opening greeting Zao had used would send ripples of discussion throughout the world. After a long pause Zao continued.
“I first visited this world many years ago. In my time here I came to love those who dwelt on the Earth. In the time since then, how high the temple of humanity has built itself. How immeasurably great has man become. I am proud of you for your achievements, and I love you all deeply.
“It is because of this love that I have come. The things that I must share here today will alarm you. They will strike fear into your hearts, but it is fear in the heart of man that drives him to greatness. This day will be remembered as the day that the world stood together against tyranny and injustice.
“I come from a world so far away that I can not begin to explain, nor can you understand how I have come. Your curiosity will drive you to know more about me, and that will come in time, but there is a much more grave matter that is the priority for which I have come.
“The ruler of my home world is truly powerful. In his billion year reign, however, he has grown blood thirsty. He requires blind obedience from all those who live under his iron fist. It is a growing empire void of freedom. Those who do not align themselves to his purposes are removed and tortured. This King is so mad that he does not allow death, but instead keeps his prisoners alive in order that their torture may be endless. Many of my fellow countrymen, even now, are enduring the torture of this mad King.
“Seeing that his fury and wrath had grown to unimaginable heights, I began to oppose his purposes. It was not an open rebellion at first, I tried to reason with this mad King, for I was one of his trusted generals. As an advisor I spent eons attempting to show him what he had become. However, my efforts were ineffective.
“After swallowing up millions of worlds, his attention has now turned to Earth. This world would be only as a small trinket among his uncounted conquests. Because of my love for this world, I begged the mad King to reconsider. I had seen him dominate innumerable planets throughout the universe. I had turned my eyes away from his impossible cruelty for too many epochs to count. When he would not relent, I had no choice but to openly rebel.
“I staged an overthrow, knowing that it could cost me endless torture if I was unsuccessful. Many of those who were under my command stood with me. We battled with the rage of a thousand stars. The war that was waged is impossible to explain in language. There are not words to make you understand what this skirmish cost those involved.
“The mad King thundered in battle. Although his forces were weakened by our assault, he ultimately prevailed. Most of the brave warriors who had fought by my side against his tyranny were captured and placed in torturous dungeons.
“In the battle I was left desperately wounded even unto death I fell. It was because I was defeated that I was not taken to be tortured. In my state, the endless love I have for you brought me here. I do not know how long I was dead, maybe a millennia, maybe minutes. It is said that the dead do not dream, but I dreamt. I dreamt of you – the people of Earth. At my resurrection, I awoke to the faces I loved; human faces.”
Zao paused. Liakos leaned forward in his chair remember the day that he had fished Zao out of the sea. He was moved to emotion himself. Tears streaked Zao’s cheeks. The power in his voice was not compromised by the show of emotion, but it was clear that he deeply cared about those who sat before him. Zao whipped the wetness from his eyes and continued.
“I have come to warn you, my loved children, that the mad King is coming. Even now, he is at your back door. He has under his yoke a star that is dipping closer to Earth every second. He rides the blazing stallion of fire to make war on the world. He comes to bring Earth under his dominion. I have seen his ways, and I can attest that the slaughter will be great.”
The room buzzed with chatter now. Liakos turned to look at those in attendance. Among the thousand dignitaries, some sat stunned, others were talking with translators as if they had misheard. Regardless of the reaction, it was clear that Zao had their attention. He hushed the room as his speech went on.
“My children, I have not come only to deliver a warning, but to offer hope. Not one hope but three. My assault on the mad King has greatly weakened him. In that day of battle there were thousands that stood with me against the mad King. I was able to free many who are still loyal to the cause of the race of men. These loyal ones are coming and shall soon arrive. This is the first hope.
“A second hope awaits still. The weapons of this world are nearly useless against such a great warrior as the mad King, however I have come with knowledge that will even the scales of justice. I will reveal to mankind the weapons of my world. I will teach you to build them. These weapons are the second hope.
“A third hope awaits still. As his insanity grows, his strategy becomes more futile. He is fueled by blind conquest. I know the mad King, and although he be mad, he is predictable. No other has made more war by the side of the mad King than I. I will show humanity how to prepare for the coming war. To be sure, there will be losses, but we will overcome. I am the third and final hope.”
Zao allowed his words to sink in. The room remained quite at his pause. Liakos was stunned. Each time Zao spoke, more impossible things seemed to spill out. Zao raised his voice for the first time. The walls shook with the sound of his enormous power.
“Men and Woman, you are assembled here today because you are charged with the protection of your own people. It is, however time that we stand together not divided. We are falling into dark times, but I can shield you from the rain and storm that is to come. However, I can only shield you if we stand as one.
“Those who choose to go their own way, are allowed to do so. For, I do not believe in tyranny, but in freedom. It is for freedom sake that I ask of you an impossible thing. I ask for you allegiance, your loyalty, and your trust. As one we can fight this impossible warrior. We can prevail in the day of battle. We can win!”
Zao thundered the last line. Chills ran down Liakos’ back. He knew that the Zao had done it. He could not imagine anyone turning down such an offer. He tentatively looked around the room, and then at the other councilors who he had walked in with. Applause broke out from somewhere in behind them. Before he knew it, they were on their feet. Clapping, and shouting. Zao let them cheer for a few minutes before he put his hands in the air. The room fell silent.
“Some of you remain cautious I can see, as you should be. If there is nothing to support my claims, then you should not trust me. So I give you this charge. I will give a short recess in order that you might corroborate my story. There is a small star that has recently entered your solar system. It has been documented by a small number of scientists, but because of the the world’s preoccupation with the current war, it has gone unnoticed by most.
“Have your experts look to this star. If you have found my words to be true, then return to this chamber and commit to this hallowed alliance. However, be warned if you do not return to join this alliance, your path is doomed to be a dark one.”
Zao again let a long pause soak the room with anticipation. He spoke softly now, almost in a whisper.
“Be courageous, take hope as you make this most momentous of decisions. My commanders will take tally of your allegiance on your return. Thank you.”
With that, Zao stepped down from the pedestal. The room immediately began to roar. The leaders tugged at pockets pulling out phones. Liakos knew that they would verify Zao’s statements and return. He felt the momentum. He could taste the outcome.