Here’s another idea I had. It’s probably not a secret that I like swords – think they are very… elegant. In addition to my personal sense for aesthetics, the sword is probably the most iconic weapon mankind invented – the only other ones that come close are a nuclear mushroom cloud and perhaps the AK74. The associations with each of these differs vastly, though – Mushroom cloud only gets associated with utter destruction and the madness that is MAD; and the AK74 stands for revolutions and communism.
The sword, on the other hand, is far more symbolic – we associate it with knights, king Arthur (Excalibur), justice, even with slaying dragons. In Somnium, the sword symbolism is used by the Sword Worlds, a group of worlds all named after famous swords from myth and history.
But Empire also uses swords. It’s an empire, with an Emperor (well – Empress) as the head of state. It’s gotta have knights in shining armor, right? And knights have got to use swords. These are probably mostly ceremonial, although I imagine that melee weapons are used alongside very low-powered sidearms in ship-board combat. You really don’t want to use anything too destructive on board a spaceship – it’s far too easy to cause damage to the life-support or, on unarmored vessels, even the hull.
If the sword is used as a ceremonial weapon in the Empire, it is conceivable that it is also used in the Imperial coat of arms. The image above is a quick sample; and to be honest I think it’s working quite well – probably because it adds some contrast to the dragon and red background.
Update, a few hours later:
I’ve reconstructed the basic seal because the center star and the circle of stars just weren’t completely symmetrical. They’re still not “perfect”, but especially the circle is now much better. Here are the three variations:
I did not notice that the sword’s hilt was partially covering those two stars – I still need to fix that. Other than that, this is probably as good as it’s going to get without professional help.
Edit: I also need to center the dragon. That’s why I should not post after a night without sleep.