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Love Conquers All is an Izeran operatic performance originally written in 3455. Though it was illegal in its time, it has since enjoyed an enormous resurgence in popularity and has been adapted into a film (several times), adapted into a stage play, adapted into a musical, novelized and, as of 3551, adapted into a popular anime series. Its creator, a Terran immigrant named Gaston Lemieux, described the work in his memoirs as a story of "love, obsession, madness, betrayal, the horrors of war, and the fact that we must never forgive those who wage it." Lemieux is described in historical records as a "radical anti-military activist," and having the opera performed caused him to be arrested and charged with Conspiracy to Commit Treason. He spent 35 years in prison and later died while desperately poor and living on state welfare.

Plot SummaryEdit

The performance is set in a galaxy on the verge of another Galactic Dark Age, wherein the Known Galaxy is divided into two coalitions that have been warring for over a century. One side is headed by the King of the Verandi Empire, and the other is headed by the Izeran Emperor. The opening scene takes place on a space station described as "neutral ground." A peace treaty has recently been signed, and diplomats from both sides celebrate together. During the party, the Izeran Emperor reveals to the audience that, while he despises the Verandi King and everyone who has ever stood with him, he is fascinated by his daughter, though she is much younger than him. They meet on a balcony, and the Emperor tells the Verandi Princess that he loves her. She tells the audience that she isn't sure how she feels about the Emperor, and that she finds him both terrifying and incredibly alluring. She tells the Emperor that she is engaged and that there can never be anything more than friendship between them. He reacts poorly and, consumed by rage, tells her that he will make her love him. He grabs her and drags her away with him, intent on kidnapping her. The Izera-aligned diplomats watch and do nothing, while the Verandi-aligned diplomats are too drunk to care. The aftermath of this sets up the central conflict of the performance.

The Emperor has already returned to Akanda by the time King Taeran hears about his daughter's fate. Initially, he is too drunk to fully understand what has happened, but eventually becomes outraged after servants explain the situation to him multiple times. The King summons up diplomats of the Verandi-aligned coalition and tries to rally them to go back to war. His speech is ineffective and the diplomats' lack of enthusiasm is obvious. They later meet in secret and discuss how to take advantage of the situation, largely at Verandi's expense. Meanwhile, the Emperor torments Princess Maria, chasing her around the palace, referring to her as a new doll to be played with and telling her that he intends to raze Cathedral City to the ground.

The two of them soon bump in to diplomats from the Izera-aligned coalition. The diplomats initially question the Emperor's decision to kidnap the princess, but they are soon intimidated by his mad raving. He chases Princess Maria out of the room, leaving the diplomats to discuss whether or not betraying him would be easier than facing Verandi's forces. The story resumes a few days later, with Princess Maria being alone in a dining room. She tells the audience that, as much as the Emperor seems to enjoy frightening and tormenting her, he hasn't actually hurt her. She compares him to her father, whom she accuses of neglecting her when she wanted attention and controlling her when she wanted independence. Maria bemoans her situation prior to her kidnapping as "true misery" and cries about being forced to marry Martin De La Costa, whom she despises for allegedly being "a depraved womanizer." She calls her marriage "the greatest possible harm" and decides that she would rather live with the mad Emperor than ever return to her "wretched home, miserable father and despicable husband."

The second act of the performance opens on Siria, a few years later, where a Sirian general celebrates the return of war with a few of her officers, stating that she is eagerly looking forward to "a great deal of gore," torture and death. She praises warfare as an inherent good and orders that any deserters be immediately shot as sacrifices to the War God, whom she later admits to having made up. On the battlefield, a Sirian soldier is shot to death, and in her last moments, laments to the audience that she has never known anything but war, and believes that armies fight each other for all eternity in the afterlife. Later, on Akanda, Princess Maria walks in on the Emperor celebrating "the inevitable genocide of the Sirians." She celebrates with him, but they are interrupted by news that the Verandi-coalition fleet has reached the system. While the fleet has captured much of the system, Akanda itself is too heavily fortified, and no progress can be made. Yet somehow, a small strike team manages to infiltrate the palace, led by Martin De La Costa and the king. They find Maria alone in a hallway and begin congratulating each other for rescuing her. Maria calls for the guards, however, and tells them that she hates the both of them. King Taeran is heartbroken and begs her for forgiveness, De La Costa tell her that he was a fool to think of her as anything less than his equal and professes to truly love her.

They try to convince Maria to flee with them, but are interrupted the Emperor, who boasts about his "conquest" of Maria and tells them that he has married her and she she is carrying his child. De La Costa draws a sword challenges him to duel, with the winner taking possession of Maria. Although she protests, the Emperor accepts, believing he will easily achieve victory. While De La Costa and the Emperor fight, Maria is outraged and tells the audience that she will not allow anyone to control her fate any longer. King Taeran draws a hidden gun, intent on dishonourably shooting the Emperor in back, but Maria grabs the gun from him and then kills him with it. The shot distracts the Emperor, and De La Costa stabs him when he isn't looking. De La Costa then rushes to the king's side to try and ascertain what has actually happened, refusing to believe that Maria killed him. Maria then shoots De La Costa in the back of the head and, to the audience, declares that she is now the rightful ruler of the entire Known Galaxy.

The final scene takes place an indeterminate amount of time later, as now-Empress Maria gives a speech from a palace balcony on Akanda. Her speech implies that the Verandi fleet was eventually destroyed, but that both sides are now severely weakened and the Dark Age is still imminent. It is also implied that she is struggling to maintain order on Akanda, much less around the rest of the galaxy, and that several factions previously aligned with either coalition have betrayed her upon hearing of the deaths of the King and the Emperor. The story ends as Maria goes back into her palace, stealthily followed by several hooded figures that the script refers to as "assassins."

CharactersEdit

  • Emperor Ssera: a cruel, intense man prone to wild mood swings. He lives alone in his palace and rules with a iron fist. Usually portrayed somewhere in his 40s.
  • Princess Maria: a naive, spoiled young woman who flaunts her responsibilities as a royal and resents her father for forcing her to marry. Originally 16, later works portray her as being between 18 and 21.
  • King Taeran: a fat, dunk, hedonist who bumbles his way through life on the backs of the taxpayers, just looking for a good time. He was handsome and capable, long ago. Usually 50-something.
  • Martin De La Costa (De Tetas y Idiotas): A petty, greedy young nobleman who only agreed to marry Maria for the dowry and the prestige. He becomes very jealous when she is captured. Usually 20-something.
  • Verandi Noblemen of various houses, each with a deliberately absurd name and motto, appear through the play, usually in the background. Most go unnamed, simply referred to "Nobleman" plus a number, with only mention being King Taeran referring to the various houses' names and mottos during a drunken rant.
  • Sirian Soldiers of various ranks appear in only a small handful of scenes throughout the play, and none of them are properly named. Emperor Ssera and others refer to Sirians and the the Sirian Union in general quite rarely, and usually only in passing. Most speculate that Lemieux knew very little about the SU, but wanted to include Sirian characters regardless, to illustrate his feelings towards "warlike attitudes."

ReceptionEdit

Seeing as the play depicts the Izeran Empire and an Izeran Emperor as villainous, and eventually depicts his murder, along with the murder of the Verandi King and several other Verandi nobles, it was banned in Izera for decades, though the law became only loosely enforced after 3460. Although it had largely drifted out of Izera's collective consciousness, it experienced a slow resurgence in popularity from about 3545 onward. It remained technically illegal even as it was remade and adapted into several new forms of media, usually under one of an enormous list of alternate names, until Empress Tanis lifted the ban in 3553.

Modern-day Izeran critics often state that the opera has deeply sexist themes, as the Verandi princess - the primary woman amongst a vastly male-dominated cast - is wholly controlled by men for most of the story, and that its depiction of soldiers, generals and the like as incompetent, corrupt or sadistic is disrespectful. Nevertheless, many Izerans have come to consider the play a kind of historical, cultural milestone, with analyses and debates about its themes and merits still taking place in many Izeran classrooms.

King Omar III of Verandi, on whom Taeran was ostensibly based on, found the play amusing, though wondered how someone as fat as Taeran could take part in the strike force on Akanda. He had no daughters and was not offended by Maria's character. The play was banned nonethless due to pressure from Izera. Privately Omar was delighted by the depiction of certain lords being portrayed negatively. The ban was never vigorously enforced and was lifted after the death of the Izeran emperor.

The reaction in the Sirian Union was one of indignant anger - indeed, an opinion piece penned in the Union at the time condemned the play for "a blinkered, small minded view of Sirian society that seems to take a perverse joy in misrepresenting everything that we stand for". Nevertheless, the play avoided a ban. As one official put it, "We do not ban media - in fact, exposure to this travesty shall reveal it for the barely thought out mess it is". Aside from a brief scare about rebellious teenagers watching recordings of the play, it quickly drifted out of the Sirian public consciousness.

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