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Swamps of the Fifth Network
Date: Jan 3, 900 A.C.
Zee Turncoat leaned back in his exquisitely carved throne. He was what his namesake betokened him. By numerous acts of treachery, he had made his way to the top of the ranks. Signing alliances with other petty warlords, then attacking them when they least expected it was how he had gained control of the Fifth Network. Actually, it never was called the Fifth Network. He had named it that because it had taken him five years to conquer it; if his treachery could be considered conquering.
“Sir,” an Elite Guard said, as it bowed its way to the throne.
“Thai ti sw?” Zee Turncoat asked, in a slimly smooth voice.
“He asks what is it,” the translator mechanoid standing beside Zee Turncoat translated.
“The grimalkins you ordered are here sir.”
“Ha,” Zee breathed in deeply the toxic naarcal fumes that rose from the burner before him. The fumes were like incense to the addict but they simply burned the nostrils of the Elite Guard as it stood uncomfortable before its master. “Yhera ert ehew?”
“Where are they?” The translator said. Zee Turncoat understood Gul (Galactic Universal Language) easily but he chose to speak in his native language, feeling that it made him more dignified.
“They are in the detainment level sir. I put them in confinement chambers fifty-six, to seventy-one.”
“Et owt oogethei H ropn?”
“He hopes that you put no two grimalkins together.” The metallic voice rang out again.
“Oh– Uh– Yes, my lord, that – That shall be remedied immediately.” The Elite Guard said, wincing. He knew exactly what was to follow. How many time had he witnessed this same scene?
“Uei,” Zee said waving his fat, chubby index finger in the air. “Ss thalb lr eemedieb, dun tob ty yoy!”
“Yes, it shall be remedied, but not by you.” The same even voice spoke up.
“Slitg Euarde! Rrresh tia mnt dhroh wit mt ohv eerg yrimalkint shah tl eocket dogethea. Ry oon uok tnof, woon,” Zee said, drawing the shivering Elite Guard towards him. Zee was surprisingly strong for his flabby arms, and the Elite Guard was surprised that he was even able to realize such a thing, when he was certain he had signed his death warrant. “Levet rp out twg orimalkint sogethed?”
“Elite Guards arrest him and throw him to the very grimalkins he put together. Do you not know, fool, never to put two grimalkins together?”
The Elite Guards grabbed their confederate by the shoulders as Zee pushed him away. Their faces remained stolid. They had grown used to such situations occurring daily. Now somebody else would be appointed as keeper of the grimalkins, and if he did not do his job better, a worse fate awaited him.
The keeper of the grimalkins had a dangerous job. The real danger was not from the grimalkins themselves; for unless he made them discontented, the grimalkins would greet him open-armed. The real danger came from Zee who adored his pets. Any specification that was not obeyed for their comfort and the keeper of the grimalkins could expect death. It would not be an easy death either. The last keeper had been roasted partially, then fed alive to the grimalkins, just because he had forgotten to clear out one of the containment chambers devoted to the grimalkins.
A grimalkin was a cougar-like cat with teeth strong enough to scar fortisteel. Its muscles were like Quartrolian Iron and it could rip open com armor easily. They could see in the dark as clearly as daylight and could walk on dry leaves without so much as turning one over. Overall, the grimalkin was a silent predator and killer, a capable assassin. The best trained grimalkins could even be told who to target. Thus, the grimalkin was the perfect pet for Zee Turncoat who enjoyed nothing more than assassinating his arch enemies.
Zee was so overweight that he could barely walk. Thus his preferred method of movement was his throne which had tiny but powerful servo-repulsors used to move it along the ground. Some of Zee’s more discontent captains would sometimes say that if Zee was not assassinated by some forgotten enemy, he would have a stroke and die. It could easily be told that these captains were slightly overeager than was healthy for the demise of their pudgy ruler.
However, no one voiced their opinions publicly in the court of Zee Turncoat; at least no one with an ounce of sense in their head would. So, despite the numerous cases of discontentment, many more of Zee Turncoat’s followers adhered to his method, and though his favorite maxim, “survival of the fittest,” could not really be applied to himself personally, Zee boasted that in the whole galaxy, there was no network as well managed as his.
Despite this, deep in his heart, Zee knew that he was disliked and distrusted, so that when he was told that his brother wished to speak with him, he was quite shocked.
“Greetings, Great and Almighty Zee Turncoat, ruler of the Fifth network, glorious leader of the Fifth Columnist Organization,” Karkamnoba said, as a holographic image of him appeared from the holo-projector that Zee held in his thick, leathery hand.
“Snougw hitt hht eitlee,” Zee said, waving the compliments aside. “Rhah tavy eoc uomh eerf eow?”
“What have you come here for?” The translator said into the holo-projector.
“I have come here, O Great and Mighty Zee, my brother, with news of high importance, for your illustrious ears alone.” Karkamnoba continued.
Zee waved the translator away and turned to face his brother. “What brings you here, my brother?” Zee asked, speaking in Gul.
“I have come to tell you of a powerful ally I have sent to you. He goes by the name of Imperetor Malvolent.” Karkamnoba said, leaning back in his seat casually.
“How powerful?” Zee asked, raising his eyebrows. He knew that Karkamnoba, his brother, was not ready to give external opponents the title of ‘powerful’ unless they really were.
“Much more powerful than you or I can ever be. He controls four networks and his mechanoid armies are enormous. He has way more Destroyer-class Spacecruisers than I have– though he does not know that. He even has the resources to build a supercruiser. My spies inform me that that supercruiser is called the Dark Menace. More than that, my spies inform me that this said Imperetor Malvolent is said to be readying himself for the destruction of the Galactic Regime. I have sent him to make an alliance with you in the hope that both of us could take the prize whilst the said Imperetor did all the hard work. My only warning to you is not to anger him. The Vilth fuel themselves on anger and he would kill you if you are not careful.”
Zee would have spoken but just as he opened his mouth to speak, he was interrupted by the hurried entrance of an Elite Guard.
“Sir, sir!” The Elite Guard said, prostrating himself before his master. “There – The – Otuside – Sodlers – Menoids – Spacruisirs – And – And –”
“Calm down man!” Zee said, slamming his fist on the engraved handle of his throne. “What is it?”
The Elite Guard gulped, trying desperately to talk past the lump in his throat. “Sir,” he said desperately. “Outside your palace sir, thousands of mechanoids. MBMs (Main Battle mechanoids), Sabotage-mechanoids, and others that I was unable to recognize. And in the air sir, thousands of GI 85 T-swoops and hundreds of Destroyer-class Spacecruisers.”
Zee’s eyes widened as he visualized this impressive array. Karkamnoba chuckled quietly to himself. “I have one last word to say, Zee. This Imperetor can be a powerful friend or a devastating foe, be careful how you tread.” At this, the holographic image of Karkamnoba disappeared and Zee was left to his thoughts.
Then he snapped his fingers and gave a flurry of sharp, short orders. His throne room became a flurry of activity as Elite Guards and Servo-mechanoids bustled about.
However, before half of Zee’s orders were completed, the quiet swish-swashing of the cloaks that Imperial Warlords wore, and the clanking made by mechanoids, announced the arrival of Imperetor Malvolent.
Imperetor Malvolent was not favorably impressed by Zee or his throne room or his Elite Guards. Used to his own huge contingents of mechanoids and Imperial Warlords, Zee’s small gathering of Elite Guards and scrappy mechanoids did not improve his own personal appearance. Then, on second thought, he had come upon Zee without any warning, and Zee still did control an entire network. Just the same, it would seem that Karkamnoba had sent him on a wild goose chase.
Zee endeavored to stand up, wobbled, and fell back into his throne. He could hear quiet snickers and grew decidedly hot, if it was possible in that hot, humid climate. Facing Imperetor Malvolent and making a slight bow with his head, Zee said:
“Treetingo, G sreaa tnm dighte Ymperom Ralvoleng.”
“Greetings, O Great and Mighty Imperetor Malvolent.” The translator mechanoid said.
The Imperetor acknowledged this title with a slight nod. Then he faced Zee and returned the greeting. “T ig mlat ds oey eol, Uort Durncoaa.”
Zee’s blubbery eyes opened wide at Imperetor Malvolent’s knowledge of his language. Then, as he realized how he was giving himself away, he quickly changed his demeanor to one who was absolutely disinterested in the Imperetor. But Imperetor Malvolent saw Zee’s momentary surprise, and smiled, though from the shadow his hood cast, the smile could barely be seen. Still, Zee detected it and it made him feel even more uncomfortable.
“Rhah tavy eoc uomh eerf eow?” Zee asked, threading his thick fingers together.
“You know the answer to that, Zee.” The Imperetor said quietly. “Your brother contacted you just a few minutes before my arrival. Also, he mentioned something about how anger fuels the Vilth, and he was right. I am fueled on anger and hate, and I will be very angry if you do not get down to the point.”
Imperetor Malvolent followed up his threat by opening up his mind slightly to Zee. But though he revealed his mind only for a short period of time, Zee screamed aloud in terror at what he saw: for the Imperetor’s mind was permeated with the screams and cries of millions of people in agony – And for a moment Zee’s vision went red, causing him to be so stricken as to be unable to react to anything that was going on around him.
Attendants hurriedly rushed to Zee’s side, fanning him and placing smelling salts before his nostrils to wake him from his stupor. Despite all their valiant efforts however, a medic eventually had to be called and even then, it was a while before that personage revived Zee, who sat in his chair, stunned.
“I – I,” Zee felt the Imperetor probing his mind and before he knew it, words he had not meant to say were out of his mouth. “I wanted to ask you for an alliance.”
Zee’s retinue fairly gasped with amazement, was this their proud leader, asking another man for an alliance? He had never bowed before any man before. They had never before seen Zee so humble, yet they had just heard him begging Imperetor Malvolent for an alliance.
“An alliance, hmm…” Imperetor Malvolent said, as if in deep thought, whilst in reality, he was preparing himself to manipulate Zee’s mind again. “Why should I make an alliance with you?”
“Because I will give you control of half my network.” Zee replied, quiet unexpectedly. Everybody gaped in astonishment but Imperetor Malvolent did not even move.
“I want control of all of your network.”
Zee managed to break off from Imperetor Malvolent’s spell just long enough to understand what he had just said. In a flash of anger he managed a firm “No. I –” Zee’s voice broke as he fell under the Imperetor’s control again.
“You what?” The Imperetor asked coolly.
“I’ll give you control over half of my network but no more.”
“Fair enough,” the Imperetor assented. “Unfortunately for you, I do not want control over half of your network. Instead, I want you to do certain things for me…”
“Oh?” Zee asked. “So long as the things that you want me to do are in my range of ability, you may be assured I shall do them, my lord.”
The Imperetor released his hold on Zee. He knew that Zee no longer would or could break away from his will. Imperetor Malvolent had gained a powerful, albeit sloppy ally, one that would be of great assistance in his full-scale conquest against the Galactic Regime.
******End of Chapter 3******
Hope you enjoyed! 🙂
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne
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