His Royal Majesty - The Eternal Emperor - hereby requests and requires that all his subjects join him at Arundel Castle on Prime World, March 15-17, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of his empire. Special guests to include Sten, Alex Kilgour, Ian Mahoney and oceans of Stregg.
NOTE FROM ALLAN: I'LL BE ON VACATION FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS. THE ETERNAL EMPEROR'S TALE WILL RESUME JUNE 20 WITH "THE PRICE OF MORTALITY."
"I used to get things done by saying, 'Please.' Now I dynamite 'em out of my path." - Huey Long
ONE WAS THE prime minister of a commonwealth. He represented the big families. One was a businesswoman, a member of the board on two thousand blue-chip firms. Another represented Big Money. He controlled the skim on two-thirds of all electronically transmitted cash. The last was labor chieftain of three continents
“Most of the military is behind us,” Labor said. “The rest will follow if we do a deal.”
“Amazing how timid generals can be,” Kea said.
“They would have come,” the prime minister said, “but they were worried—despite our assurances to the contrary—that they might be spotted… They send, however, their humblest apologies and warmest greetings.”
Kea snorted. “Like I said… timid.”
Big Money cut to the bottom line. “But still with us,” he said. “You know we wouldn’t be here, Mr. Richards, if we didn’t have all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed.”
“The point is,” the businesswoman said, “the Federation’s presidential election is upon us. Time is short. We need to know now if you’ll be our nominee.”
“I’ll have to be honest with you,” Kea said. “The other side has come to see me as well.”
Labor laughed. “If you didn’t figure we already knew that, Mr. Richards,” he said, “you wouldn’t have let our shadows fall upon your doorstep.”
“We’re not amateurs,” Big Money said. “We came prepared to substantially increase the offer.”
“I think we had better stop right here,” Kea said, “while I explain my position.”
“Explain away,” Labor said.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I told them. I don’t need this. I’m richer than anyone has a right to be. I’m forty-seven years old. I was thinking of taking it easy for a while. Resting on my laurels, as it were.”
The businesswoman clapped. “Lovely speech. We’ll see the spin doctors use it.”
“The mink-piece writers will devour it with relish,” the prime minister said. “I can see the Op Ed headline now: ‘Hero who saved civilization spurns all offers from grateful public.’”
“We let that kinda thing bounce around for a week or so,” Labor cut in. “Then play up the mess the fat cats and back-room boys have got the Federation into. Before you know it, folks will be beggin’ you to save ‘em again.”
“Then you reluctantly… and humbly… agree to a draft,” the prime minister said.
The businesswoman graced him with her most charming smile. “Is that what you had in mind, Mr. Richards? More or less.”
Kea laughed. “The others believed me just a little longer than you people,” he said.
“That’s why we’re number one,” Big Money responded.
“Number one… but without a candidate,” Kea said. “Which is the same boat your competition is in. At this rate, both parties will wind up in a tie out of sheer electoral boredom. And even if you win… The Federation is in a mess. You guys have put it in the crap house. What are you going to do about it? What are your big ideas?”
Dead silence greeted this. But Kea believed it necessary to drive his point home. “The current state of the Federation is no fantasy, my friends,” he said. “The economy is in shambles. You’ve got twenty wars of various sizes. Famine. Drought. Industry is stalled. Inflation running amok. Interest rates sky-high… if there was anyone with money to borrow. Besides that, lady… and gentlemen, you look in fine shape to me.”
“You must be interested,” Labor said, “or you wouldn’t have bothered to fill up your stone bucket before we got here. If you get my point.”
“I got it,” Kea said.
“Which brings us back to the price,” Big Money said.
“What could I want?” Kea asked. “I’ve got AM2. Which means I already control everything-—-from the stars on down.”
“You tell us, Mr. Richards,” Labor said. “What do you want?”
Kea told them. Unlike the first group, there was no quibbling. No negotiation.
The deal was cut right there.
NEXT: THE PRICE OF MORTALITY
STEN #1 DEBUTS IN SPANISH!
Told in four parts, Episode One now appearing in Diaspar Magazine, the best SF&F magazine in South America! And it's free! Here's the link.
Sten debuta # 1 en español! Narrada en cuatro partes, Episode One ahora aparece en la revista Diaspar, la mejor revista de SF & F en América del Sur!
Relive the fabulous four-day Stregg-laced celebration. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. New recipes from the Eternal Emperor's kitchen. Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever. Sten's thrill-packed exploits at the Emp's castle. How to make your own Stregg. And, did I mention, Alex Kilgour's Worst Joke Ever?
Two new companion editions to the international best-selling Sten series. In the first, learn the Emperor's most closely held cooking secrets. In the other, Sten unleashes his shaggy-dog joke cracking sidekick, Alex Kilgour. Both available as trade paperbacks or in all major e-book flavors. Click here to tickle your funny bone or sizzle your palate.
The MisAdventures began humbly enough - with about 2,000 readers. When it rose to over 50,000 (we're now knocking at the door of 115,000) I started listening to those of you who urged me to collect the stories into a book. Starting at the beginning, I went back and rewrote the essays, adding new detail and events as they came to mind. This book is the result of that effort. However, I'm mindful of the fact, Gentle Reader, that you also enjoy having these little offerings posted every Friday to put a smile on your face for the weekend. So I'll continue running them until it reaches the final Fade Out. Meanwhile, it would please the heart of this ink-stained wretch - as well as tickle whatever that hard black thing is in my banker's chest - if you bought the book. It will make a great gift, don't you think? And if you'd like a personally autographed copy you can get it directly through my (ahem) Merchant's Link at Amazon.com. Click here. Buy the book and I will sign it and ship it to you. Break a leg!