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Riesstiu IV the Second
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Emperor Riesstiu IV the Second, also known as Khaldeesh II, was the last Emperor of the Taiidan Empire (406 BHL-0 AHL) and certainly one of its most infamous. Throughout his reign Riesstiu seized more and more power, all the while orchestrating disastrous policies that would ruin what was left of the corrupt and declining Empire. Most notorious of these acts was the Kharakian Genocide and the heavy handed tactics used to quell both political and civilian dissenters at the start of the Taiidan Rebellion.
Riesstiu was born in a cloning facility several centuries BHL. He was a genetic copy of the Emperor Riesstiu IV, the previous emperor who had recently died. His predecessor had been paranoid and had, out of fear of assassination, massacred what remained of the Imperial Line and initiated the Clone Doctrine by which it was determined that the Emperor, upon death, would be cloned and succeeded by his genetic replica.
Yet Riesstiu would prove to not be a perfect replica of his "father." While his father was certainly not a wise or powerful ruler Riesstiu's policies would betray outright insanity and depravity, making him a deeply hated figure amongst both reformers and conservatives and feared by all for his murderous rages.
It could not be said, accurately at least, that Riesstiu IV the Second had a childhood. He was, upon birth, an adult biologically as he was intended to immediately succeed the dead Riesstiu IV. Riesstiu was immediately thrust into state affairs, educated only with the memories of the man he was cloned from. However, whilst the Assembly of Lords had experienced some difficulty negotiating things with Riesstiu IV due to his paranoia, Riesstiu IV the Second was outright untameable.
Faulty cloning machines had produced a man that was, in mind and body, as old as the Emperor that had preceded him. As a result Riesstiu was, mentally and physically a crippled old man. Wildly unpredictable, deranged, and paranoid the new Emperor quickly proved he would be no weakling, upon learning of any minor plot against him, took control of the government and ordering the execution of people he saw as disloyal or treacherous to him. Riesstiu was well known for lying in court by several of the aforementioned 'treacherous people'.
The Emperor's mood swung erratically and while he may favor an official one day, the next he might turn against them and have them publicly executed, often in a gruesome fashion.
More and more rumors spread of the Emperor's many horrors until even his hand-picked Assembly ordered him confined to a life support chamber, long before he even needed one. From that point on he would usually only emerge for official events, often closely watched by security guards. Yet even trapped inside his life support system Riesstiu the Mad wielded enormous power and gathered loyal counselors. Furthermore, there is evidence that extensive time in the life support system gave him limited telepathic abilities, although none on the scale of an unbound. It is perhaps through this that he managed to continue ruling, even while those around him did everything they could to separate him from power.
The Beginnings of RebellionEdit
Still, even for one who had near total control over his Empire there were still those brave enough to challenge the Emperor. Although normally in opposition to one another, the tyrannical rule of Riesstiu united the people that supported these rebellious factions who now began to organize a coordinated rebellion. Unfortunately for the Empire, Riesstiu's policies only made it easier for the rebellion to gather supporters.
In some years the Empire placed a heavy tax on all trade moving through the city world of Triistara. This cut deeply into the local economy and planetwide protests were heard in opposition to the Empire's new tax. The rebels seized this chance and escalated the situation, inciting riots which reached the point of merchants opening fire on military installations. The rebellion hoped that the Assembly of Lords, which was split secretly between pro-Rebel and pro-Imperial factions, would act too slowly to prevent a revolution from occuring on Triistara.
The rebels had, however, underestimated the power Riesstiu still wielded. While the Assembly debated over the issue the Emperor deployed into action three fleets with orders to crush the rebellion by any means necessary. The following event is the Imperial Naval Fleet would pummel the Triistaran populace into obedience, killing at least two million.
All across the Empire there was outrage, outrage against the Emperor who had, without hesitation, ordered the deaths of millions of his own people. The only difference of opinion now was whether he was justified or not. The Assembly itself was split on the issue and some members opted for outright rebellion. Predictabely these insinuations of rebellion resulted in Riesstiu taking drastic actions, beginning yet another hunt for 'traitors'. Within a few months the rebellion seemed all but crushed.
Riesstiu however failed to realize the longterm consequences of his policies. While the rebellion would be silenced for a dozen years he had turned the people of the Empire against him, as well as a fair portion of the Assembly. The rebels returned to carrying out their plans in secrecy, waiting for another and better chance to strike.
The incidents even wore down the Emperor himself and his sanity was completely broken at last. What remained of the Assembly did its best to ignore him, hoping he would not on a whim decide to kill them. This situation would remain in stasis for several more years until one event that would push the entire galaxy into war.
In some time there, an Outer Rim Taiidan listening post detected a hyperspace jump within the Kharak System, a backwater system nominally considered a part of the Empire but that was functionally independent, its inhabitants not even aware of the Empire's nearby presence. Were it any other system on the edge of Imperial space it would have been a trivial issue. However, the Kharak system was the official relocation site of the Kushan Exiles, who had been ordered deported three millennia before and forbidden in a treaty long-forgotten to all but historians and men of law to redevelop hyperspace travel. Their return had long been the subject of myth and legend and it was normally associated with the collapse of the Empire.
As a result Riesstiu panicked and in an ironic turn of events contributed to the most notable instance of self-fulfilling prophecy in galactic history. Riesstiu's orders were to wipe out the Kushan race and prevent them from leaving the Kharak system. The Outer Rim Imperial Naval Fleet, as well as a Turanic Raider fleet, stepped up to the task and together nearly wiped out the Kushan species, burning the surface of Kharak.
Shortly after the Emperor's propaganda ministers broadcast the images of the genocide to Imperial citizens galaxy-wide, aiming to increase awe of the Emperor's power by demonstrating the Empire's ability to wipe out an entire civilization without even draining the Imperial economy. Yet the broadcast had the opposite effect, turning the Emperor's people completely against him. To many it was a confirmation of how soulless the Empire had become. Here were a people who had done nothing to incite the Empire's wrath but violate a long-forgotten agreement. Yet the Taiidan Imperial Fleet had blindly obeyed the Emperor's orders and massacred hundreds of millions. It was not simply a matter of replacing the Emperor. Now, people were convinced there was something wrong with the Empire itself. The Rebellion had begun.
Rebellion spread like wildfire throughout the Empire. Those who had secretly supported it now openly declared their allegiance to this new Taiidan Rebellion. Yet the Rebels had again underestimated how prepared for an insurrection the mad Emperor and his ministers were. The Emperor executed martial law across all the worlds of the Empire and deployed military troops as police forces throughout the Empire. Official edicts declared that no act in defense of Riesstiu and His Throne would be judged in civilian courts.
Massacres followed. As more and more military units defected to the Rebellion twice as many committed acts of brutal savagery. Governors unwilling to remove protesters were killed and those that would follow the Emperor's orders were promoted to take their position. Rebellious colonies were destroyed, often brutally. Asteroid cities were cut off from life support by Imperial guns, the inhabitants' deaths by asphyxiation recorded and broadcast as an example.
Furthermore, the Imperial Fleet was not lacking in military talent. Although many brilliant commanders were on the side of the Rebels the Empire had a near monopoly on tactical genius. This was best demonstrated at the Battle of Vorshan's Rift during which the Imperial Fleet decimated a Rebel task force. This was seen by many as a last blow to the rebellion and confirmation of an inevitable victory for the Empire. Yet things were not all as they seemed.
The Turanic flagship dispatched to the Kharak system to take part in the genocide had failed to wipe out the Mothership, a Kushan colonization-based ship aimed for Hiigara, the Kushan's ancestral homeworld. In addition to the rebellion Riesstiu had focused a great deal of attention on eliminating the survivors of Kharak after they reemerged and destroyed the Taiidan garrison charged with destroying them.
Yet the Kushan had eluded his search for them, traveling through the Great Nebula which was, due to the presence of the Kadeshi, unguarded by the Imperial Fleet. Then, after several victories against the Empire, the Emperor recieved word that the Kushan had now officially allied with the Bentusi. It was the deepest insult possible to Riesstiu and destroyed what little dignity and restraint he possessed. In his rage, he ordered the Imperial Navy to attack a Bentusi Exchange which had been seen assisting the Exiles.
Determined to put an end to the Exiles, the Emperor took personal control of the Imperial Fleet, surprising many. This was perhaps one of his worse decisions, as it was undoubtedly in part his lack of tactical genius that led to the disastrous defeat that was the Second Battle of Hiigara. There, above the world of Hiigara the Emperor and his Elite Guard made their last stand against the rebels and the Kushan and Riesstiu IV the Second finally met his end.
Riesstiu IV the Second had continued the Clone Doctrine of his predecessors and would have been succeeded by a clone. However, rebel agents on Hiigara, taking advantage of the chaos caused by the battle in high orbit, infiltrated and destroyed the Imperial Gene Bank and Imperial Cloning Facility, thereby preventing the Emperor from being cloned. The Imperial Line had technically and officially come to an end.
- In Homeworld the villainous Taiidan Emperor is left unnamed and serves the purpose of the Empire's evils and corruption incarnate. In the Homeworld: Cataclysm Manual the Emperor was given the name "Riesstiu IV the Second," the title being "IV the Second" because he is a clone of the first Riesstiu IV. In Relic Entertainment's official backstory section for Homeworld: Cataclysm, however, the Emperor is referred to as Khaldeesh II. However, in the Homeworld 2 backstory, the name Riesstiu is again used, this time in reference to the Taiidan admiral who defeated the Kushan during the War of Sajuuk.
- It is likely that Riesstiu is inspired by several other fictional emperors of Space opera, most notably perhaps Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars. Both were aged, exhibit abnormal powers and are insane, are reputably pure evil and had clones. On the other hand, it is also a bit likely that Riesstiu is inspired by the God Emperor of Warhammer 40,000 who has lived for millenia over an ancient and galactic-spanning empire. It is also possible that the emperors of Dune and Foundation played a role in influencing Riesstiu's design as both universes contain corrupt galactic empires on the brink of collapse, ruled over by ruthless or weak emperors.
- Riesstiu IV is rarely in most sources given credit for telepathic abilities Riesstiu exhibits perhaps the most explicit demonstration of psychic abilities in Homeworld canon (with the exception of Makaan). He does, for example, communicate directly with Karan S'jet from across the breadth of space during the pre-mission cinematic for the last mission of the Homeworld campaign ("Karan. You took one step too close to me."). Shortly after Karan is disabled and the Mothership Fleet uncoordinated.
- Homeworld: Cataclysm Manual
- End of the Imperial Era, Relic Entertainment's Cataclysm backstory
|Emperor of the Taiidan Empire|
406 BHL – 0 AHL
Title abolished, eventually Makaan