Rite of Assassination
The Rite of Assassination is an archaic Imperial law and ritual providing for leadership succession according to the dictates of power politics.
- And by power politics, what is meant is might makes right, the law of the jungle.
- It is both a right in a legal entitlement sense and a spiritual rite in a religious sense.
- It is also known as the Right of Assassination.
Although the right of assassination has fallen into disuse, it is generally agreed that for the method to be a valid route to the Iridium Throne, certain precedents must be followed:
- 1.) The assassin must be a high noble;
- 2.) The assassin must kill the Emperor by his own hand in the presence of witnesses;
- 3.) The Moot must approve of the new Emperor; just as with any successor.
Thus, the reason for the assassination must be well founded, or Moot confirmation will likely be denied. Moot confirmation can make all the difference - depending on what the Moot says, the assassin could be hailed as a courageous hero (...with legitimacy) or prosecuted as a seditious murderer (...without legitimacy).
The first Third Imperium emperor to be shot by his successor was Cleon III, also known as Cleon the Mad. Selected by lot in a secret meeting of the High Moot, Porfiria shot Cleon III in his council chambers in 245. Porfiria was subsequently proclaimed Empress by Moot confirmation.
- During the Civil War period, several usurpers attempted to claim the throne by the right of assassination - few succeeded... in receiving a coerced Moot confirmation.
Origins of the Right
Cleon III was a paranoid schizophrenic with a mercurial temper who ascended the Iridium Throne in 244. He surrounded himself with a hand-picked bodyguard rather than members of the Imperial Guard, a court made up of favorites and sycophants, and he routinely carried sidearms for his own protection.
Cleon considered himself and his office to be above the law and saw it as his right to "remove" those who displeased him. When he was calm he was rational and courteous and followed normal procedures such as the withdrawal of privileges or banishment. But if he became enraged he lost all reason, drawing his weapons and gunning down all in his sight. The killings were justified as self defense against murderous plots and explained away by his lackeys as foiled conspiracies. But this, in turn, further fueled the Emperor's paranoia.
Information regarding the deaths was arbitrarily released to the public along with grisly 3V footage and incriminating profiling of the victims. The releases were accompanied by ranting accusations from the Emperor himself, along with demands for reprisals and retribution.
By the end of the year society on Capital – and within Core Sector as news spread – began to unravel. Fear and uncertainty reigned as everyone saw (largely non-existent) plots and traitors all around them, and arrests – and worse – inevitably followed. Worlds began dividing into panicked factions and Subsectors began to polarize into petty alliances.
In fact, a conspiracy did exist.
All of the conspirators were members of both the High Moot and the Imperial Court. All were high-ranking nobles and military officers descended from pure Sylean stock and each held a legitimate, if distant, claim to the Throne. They wielded great power and influence within the young Imperium but their roles required them to be in close proximity to the homicidal Cleon. As such, their numbers were diminishing fast.
During the early part of 245 the group drafted and signed the Agreement and Understanding, detailing their manifesto and justifying their actions. It was based in part on the Maar Ki Zon, the "Book of the Way", an influential religious work dating from the pre-Vilani Sylean Empire. In particular, it drew heavily on a rite of exoneration associated with judicious regicide. This ritual was important to early Sylean society and was once very formulaic with many steps and customs, many of them considered both magical and spiritual.
An escort of trusted officers was assembled, drawn largely from the Imperial Guard, to serve both as protection and as witnesses to the act. The Guard were sworn to protect the person of the Emperor but had been slighted as a unit by Cleon. In addition, a number of their senior officers had died by Cleon's hand and been decried as traitors. Volunteers from among their ranks were not hard to find.
The conspirators met in a private suite within the Moot Spire and drew lots to determine who would actually do the deed. Porfiria literally drew the short straw, but she gained the promise of the Iridium Throne, unchallenged by her peers, as her reward. She and her escort set off for the Imperial Palace while the other conspirators dispersed into the Moot.
Porfiria was easily able to access Cleon's personal wing of the palace: he was engaged in planning his festivities and his suites were unusually busy, filled with flunkies and designers and technicians. She gained personal attendance of the Emperor within his council chambers on the pretext of bringing him gifts. A short gun battle ensued, during which Cleon and a number of his staff were fatally wounded. Porfiria and her escort barricaded themselves within an antechamber to await events within the Moot.
Upon receipt of the news the conspirators within the Moot acted, presenting their Agreement and Understanding for the member's approval. An unusually large number were present within the Moot Spire in anticipation of the coming Imperial celebrations: being absent could have been seen as a sign of disloyalty and no-one liked the idea of being dragged before Cleon to explain themselves.
The delivery of the document was deliberately timed to coincide with the confusion and panic unleashed by the assassination. It offered an immediate and timely solution to the unfolding crisis and it was sanctioned by an overwhelming majority of the members, for the most part without their understanding its full implications. The Imperial Guard immediately declared for Porfiria and retrieved her from her makeshift redoubt within the Palace.
The Agreement and Understanding framed the legal process of what eventually became the Right of Assassination. Under its terms Porfiria was declared the legitimate Empress, assuming the Throne and reestablishing the Lentuli Dynasty.